September 29, 2010

Harvest approaching

When you make wine, everybody always asks, "so, how are the grapes?" Every year there's a story to tell, and this year the story is more unusual than normal. Some years are wet, some dry, some hot, some cold, some with early bud break, some with late flowering, and so on. This year has had it all. Dry, warm winter that's typical of El Nino years in the Pacific Northwest. That meant budbreak, where the new vine shoots begin to grow in the spring, was in late March and early April, two weeks early. Everyone was concerned a late season frost would kill all those shoots, and while we got close, it never happened.

So it's an early year, right? No. After budbreak, the skies opened and the temps plummeted, with record spring rains, swollen rivers locally and instead of flowering early, we were two weeks late with flowering happening in late June into early July. Talk about reversals. Then summer came and while we had dry weather for nearly two months straight, temps only rarely turned hot. This was the bummer summer, good for those of us without a/c but bad for tomato growers and, it seemed, grape farmers. Then came September and the skies opened again. Things looked gloomy, we really needed a stretch of warm, dry weather, and wouldn't you know it. It's here. We've had days in the 70s and 80s lately with some unusual humidity that's passed, and the short and long term forecasts are very positive. All told, this was one crazy year that on the one hand I wouldn't want to repeat, but on the other I actually prefer to the torrid heat last year. Pinot noir doesn't like all that heat, and though it doesn't like cold summers, if we can keep this beautiful fall weather going, things could be at least good if not great. We'll see.

Here are some shots from recent vineyard visits, so you can see for yourself some nearly ripe fruit and leaf canopies that are still nicely green and able to turn that sunlight into grape sugars, aromas and flavors.

Pommard clone Pinot noir at Zenith vineyard last week. These grapes look great as usual, and aytpically they are more advanced then most of the other clones in the vineyard. Good this year.

The view from the southeast corner of Armstrong vineyard on Ribbon Ridge the other day. These vines are young Wadenswil plants, that might get ripe and go into one of my fermenters.

Higher up at Armstrong, some nice looking clusters, healthy, getting sweet and tasty, just needing a bit more time. Don't they just look like they'll make good wine?

The real nemesis this time of year. These trees to the north of Armstrong are positively screaming with birds, which like to eat ripe grapes. The netting is up on many vine rows but the birds are smart. They're an old sign of ripeness. When the birds eat, we're close.

In sum, things look great for Vincent Wine Company grapes in 2010. We may have the first fruit in next week or weekend. Then it's time to make wine.


Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Great Pics... let me know if you need help with harvest/crush.. I'd love to take some time off to help you.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

You got it. Help on the sorting line is always appreciated. We'll see what else there is to do.