November 08, 2010

Harvest 2010 wrap - part one

We're back after a busy month bringing in grapes and making new wine. Rather than detail the events just in words, let's try a more image-based approach, starting back in the middle of the growing season.

Here were are in late July at Armstrong vineyard on Ribbon Ridge, well past flowering so that the grape vines have set their crop but well before veraison where the grapes turn color and begin to ripen. All looks good, as we'll see, things continue to go well despite strange spring, summer and fall weather that makes even jaded Oregonians think twice. Cold and wet in spring. Mild in the summer. Ultimately perfect in the fall.

Speaking of perfect, here's my bride at Armstrong on that gorgeous late July night, walking in the paddock with our daughter, chasing neighbor horses. Life is good on Ribbon Ridge.

Our son Martin in the vines this same night. Looks like a future Oregonian vineyard hand and cellar worker if you ask me, not that I'm pushing the kid too hard.

Meanwhile, down at Zenith Vineyard the Pommard clone Pinot Noir in Block 6G is looking good in mid-September. Leaves completely pulled to promote good airflow with our cool and occasionally downright humid late summer conditions. Veraison has come and gone but harvest is still weeks away yet.

Up at Armstrong, the grapes are looking better and better. You can even see a little dehydration, not something we look for but something that indicates the exceptional ripeness this vineyard achieved in what was a challenging year in many sites.

Daughter Dolores in the vines at Armstrong, late summer. We are on a vineyard walk talking about ripeness, what it looks, feels and tastes like. She is pretty interested. One of the highlights of my summer for sure.

Yours truly, in a rare appearance on these pages. Enough.

Early October now at Zenith. Lower leaves starting to yellow, fruit more than completely exposed but looking fabulous. Tim Ramey and company at Zenith do an incredible job.

That same day, up at Armstrong where leaves in the 667 block are also starting to turn. I pull cluster samples at both sites to see for myself how things measure out and taste.

Back at the winery, those samples provide the first look at 2010. Juice coloring up pretty quickly, definitely a sign of ripeness. Flavors sweet with strong acidity. Sugars higher than expected and the call is to pick two days later at Armstrong, the following week at Zenith.

That means it's time to wash picking bins. Harvest is on.

Friday morning, October 8 at Armstrong vineyard for the first harvest off this site planted in 2007. The crew works fast and clears all 12+ acres in half a day. Amazing work.

The sun comes out after the clouds burn off, and the grapes arrive at the winery. Now the real work for us lazy cellar people begins. Meanwhile the pickers are undoubtedly drinking beer. Well earned.

Jennifer on the sorting line, smiling because this is just the beginning. And because this is great looking fruit. After several hours of sorting through each cluster, it's not so fun. But she even looks great then too.

The final shot of part one - a pump over of the newly crushed grapes to mix them well before they sit until fermentation begins naturally. That means no punching or pumping for a week or more. Nothing until things get going really well, then twice daily punchdowns to mix things well and aerate the fermenting grapes. We'll see next time how things proceed.

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