October 06, 2010

Ready to pick

Got a report last night that our Ribbon Ridge site, Armstrong Vineyard, was closer than I expected to harvest. Grape sugars in the 23 range and acids in the 3.3 to 3.4 pH range, still very bright but the way I want them. I had to take the day off work and visit both of our sites, to see and taste things for myself.

First stop, Zenith in the Eola-Amity Hills. This is such a great site and I'm always happy taking the Wheatland Ferry across the Willamette to get there. Without a bridge across the rive between Newberg and Salem, we take the old car ferry, turn off the engines and glide across the water for a few minutes. It's lovely.

Then to Zenith to check out block 6-G, where I get Pommard clone Pinot noir. As I got to the ferry I received an email from vineyard owner Tim Ramey with tons of numbers for various blocks, including this one. Sugars were 21.3 and pH was a teeth-rattling 3.03. I walked the rows and took my own sample. Fruit tasted close but not quite there. Things look great so we should have no problem waiting another week, though as is the case everywhere this year, bird pressure is high. Lots of birds eating the ripening grapes.

As an aside, is this the year of the critter? Last year the fruit crops from cherries to grapes were huge. This year, the mosquitoes were rampant, the raccoons wrecking havoc in my garden, the birds everywhere, at least it seems.

Then up to Armstrong on Ribbon Ridge. Bird pressure is strong here too. Happily, we're about to pick. I took samples in all three of my blocks, clones 115, 667 and 777. Sugars had been reported in the 23 range, with pH in the 3.3 to 3.4 range. Flavors are generally great, with a few less ripe berries. That's fine. I'm not looking for huge ripeness and my readings below suggest plenty of sugar development. Acids remain bright though, which I'm excited about.

Today got up to the low 80s around the northern Willamette Valley. What an absolutely gorgeous day, nearly 15F above the norm this time of year. Certainly our last day at 80 and we'll be happy to hit 70 a couple more times. The season is nearing the end, but the grapes will hang and continue to ripen even with weather in the 60s. What we don't need is a lot of rain. Some is on the way, but apparently good weather is on tap for next week.

Back at the winery, the grapes samples I picked came out sweeter than expected. Pommard from Zenith was 22.1. From Armstrong, the 115 came in at 24.5 brix, the 777 at 24.3, and 667 at 23.8. All at or even above what I'd hope (23.5 if you're wondering). Number don't tell the whole story. Still, things are clearly ready at Armstrong and I'm excited for the vintage. You can see the juice above. Things smell and taste great.


Florida Jim said...

And here I thought the vintage was practically a wash out up there. Sounds like nice numbers, if the flavors are there.
Much the same here in Sonoma; biggest brix so far for pinot is 24.2.
Best, Jim

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Jim, I'm lucky, this is an early site. Last year it would have been tough in the heat. This year it's ideal. That said, for all the low brix fruit up here, this may be a great year for bright, energetic Willamette Valley Pinot noir.

Re: flavors, I'm not a big flavors guy. Don't get me wrong, but I want wine flavors, not fruit flavors. Seems like wine flavors happen earlier and without the explosive intensity that so many people look for in the vineyard. By then, all you're left with is froot. At least, that's my theory.