October 23, 2006

Harvest Update

I pressed my ½ ton of Wahle Vineyard Pinot Noir last Friday, a few days after the brix fell below zero. Like many Pinot Noir makers, I wanted to give the new wine a chance to macerate on the grape skins for a few days before pressing to give more complexity.

Pressing took hours, as I had a small rented basket press that drained into two tubs that I rotated, one to catch the new wine while I took the other to the makeshift barrel room to pour into my barrel. You might be shocked at home much air exposure wine can see during pressing, but I think some oxygen exposure is good for the wine at this stage. I filled the 228L barrel with mostly free run juice and then two carboys with press wine, all of which tasted delicious if a little alcoholic.

On Sunday I tasted the wine after it had a chance to settle in the barrel just a bit. Still a vibrant purple color with some haziness, the aroma showed more winey fragrance and in the mouth the wine shows sweet fruit, less alcohol than before, and some nice acid that will decrease through secondary fermentation in the coming months.

Overall, I think the wine is quite good. Clearly leagues above what I’ve made to this date. Of course it’s early so there’s no congratulations yet. But I know I’m on to something here, and it honestly feels real good.

Meanwhile, life goes on at the winery where I’m working harvest. Things are definitely winding down for the season, with only some late harvested whites coming in later this week. All of the reds should be pressed and in barrel by then, so my last day will be next Monday.

The weather has been a little rainy, but with nice sunny days in between. No serious botrytis in the grapes still hanging, but there should be some nice dessert wines this year, noble sweet or not.

It’s been quite a season for me, with some serious ups and downs. But in the end, I think I find myself in a very good place, with more experience, with good wine in my cellar, and no less interest in continuing down this slightly insane path of winemaking. Who knows where it will lead.

By the way, one of the first days of harvest, some dudes from the University of Oregon stopped by the winery for a story they were doing for the college newspaper. Their story is here, sort of choppy but give the college kid a break. What's really cool is the video story that's linked here. Check it out. I’m in a few pictures, the guy in a white t-shirt with green silkscreen, misidentifed at one point as the winery owner raking grapes out of a bin. Sure, that would be nice.

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