September 29, 2008

Another vineyard visit

Recently I had the chance to visit an out of the way vineyard I had previously never heard of. It’s on the west slope of the Portland hills, northwest of downtown some miles out near North Plains. Twenty year old pinot noir vines, own-rooted Pommard clone, with some ten year vines as well. Volcanic soils. High elevation. Organically farmed. Healthy vines but maybe needing some TLC to show their best.

The shoots aren’t carefully positioned or tied up on the trellis wire. Some hedging would be in order. Second crop needs to be removed. This time of year, leaves should be pulled off the morning side of the grape clusters for light exposure and better air movement. Maybe on both sides, to maximize ripeness in this challenging spot. Clusters still weren’t fully colored, and harvest was weeks away. The weather’s turned warm again, but this vineyard probably still has a long way to go.

I’m technically still looking for grapes for this harvest, though I think I have a line on the vineyard I purchased from in 2006. It’s my first choice, though it’s not cheap. I’m a homebrewer who’s going after vineyards otherwise in commercial production. I don’t have priority. I went up to this vineyard thinking maybe I’d have it as a back up, and it still may be if I need it.

The real discovery though was the thought that next year, when I’m planning to make a small amount of wine commercially, I might rent a few rows at this promising, out of the way site and take care of them myself. The owner has a crew that sprays and does other work. Clearly more is needed to see what this site could produce. The raw materials are there. I’d love the opportunity to get out in the vineyard and get my hands dirty. I drove away excited about next year, about working with vines after so many years focused on the wine cellar.


Anonymous said...

A few years ago I lived in North Plains. Didn't realize there were vineyards out that way.

If you need a hand out in the vineyard give me a call. I'd love to help you out and get my hands dirty.

Ruben Ramos

Vincent Fritzsche said...


I didn't either. Driving up there the other week, I saw a few vineyards and seemingly many sites that look terrific for planting. My focus now is tracking the climate in that particular spot. I'm loving how weatherunderground has so many personal weather stations available online. For the vineyards I'm interested in, I'm seeing stations essentially right where I'd want them, allowing me to track the climate very closely.

I'll keep you in mind for some labor should I have the chance to get dirty. Glad you're interested.