September 01, 2009

September, and launching my new wine project

It's September, and my first harvest making wine commercially is nearly here. It's an exciting time.

I've written here and over on Wine Berserkers to announce the launch of my wine project Vincent Cellars. This fall we'll be crushing 3.5 tons of pinot noir from the Zenith and Domaine Coteau vineyards, both in the Eola-Amity AVA. My wine is being made at the Portland Wine Project in downtown Portland, home to Grochau Cellars and Boedecker Cellars and a few small projects like mine.

Right now, it's the calm before the storm. I still have several things to do, but most are administrative. Finalizing the custom crush contract, licensing, insurance, setting up a business bank account. Nothing too severe. I have already lined up grapes, barrels, racks, fermenters and everything else I need to make the wine. Soon, the grapes come in and all hell breaks loose. This year I'm not making much wine as commercial producers go, though I'm sure I'll pay way too much attention to what I'm doing. Beyond this fall, things will get more and more complex as I try to sell the wine to happy customers and figure out ways to build a business. This is the easy part.

The grape crop is in great shape all over the Willamette Valley. If anything, there's been a bit too much summer heat. Growers measure heat in "degree days," or the cumulative peak temperature each day of the growing season over 50 or 55 degrees. Here's a cool app to track things in lots of major growing regions. You can even compare years. Right now in the northern Willamette Valley we're tracking with hotter years, but the crop is big and that spreads out a vine's energy. September could still be cool. I'm feeling really good about the potential quality this year. Stay tuned. I'm planning to write lots about the harvest as it unfolds.


Dudley said...

I checked out the heat days index app. Pretty cool, although 2009 it is directly on track to mirror 2003. I hope we get more moderate temps over the coming weeks and not another heat spike.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Yes, we're hot in degree days. However, the crop is bigger which provides more sugar balance (made up term). The leaf canopy makes the sugar. If you have 1.5 or 2 tons of grapes per acre vine, that's one thing. If you have what we're looking at this year, 2.5 tons per acre or more at many sites, you spread out the plant's energy over more fruit. That I think can mitigate things better than in comparatively warm years. Again, how hot or cold will the rest of the season be? The quality is made in September. Everything's set up nicely, I think.