13 Oct 2014 Harvest
What a great year for harvest! We’ve had almost summer-like temperatures and sun accompany us through this entire harvest season. This was one of the warmest Summers on record.
Matt started checking out the grapes in August. Vineyard crews start dropping fruit, or cutting off smaller clusters from the vine, to give you the tonnage of grapes you ask for. Generally we look for about 2 – 2.5 tons of grapes per acre of vineyard. This gives us a ripe crop with the most concentration of flavors. In August Matt is looking for veraison (color change) in the grape clusters.
In September he starts taking samples of the clusters, from throughout the vineyard. He smashes these up to create a juice that we can measure sugar (in brix) and acid levels. While deciding when to harvest the grapes we check the sugar and acid levels of the juice from every vineyard every couple of days. We also check the seed and stem color. The grapes are not truly mature until these turn from green to brown. Once these are brown we have most of the flavors in the grapes and it is time to harvest!
This year, because of the heat, the sugar levels were spiking higher, quicker than we preferred. Mother Nature gave us a little rain, which helped to add water back to the berries, lower the sugars and allow the grapes to stay on the vine a longer period. This helped us tremendously!
Our first grapes arrived on our wedding anniversary, September 16th. These were surprise grapes, Chardonnay from Open Claim Vineyard who had some extra grapes this year. The Chardonnay was left overnight, while we enjoyed dinner at Recipe, and then pressed off of its skins the next morning.
The next grapes were pinot noir, clone 777, from Yates Conwill Vineyard in the hills just west of Carlton. This Dijon clone ripens earlier, we took the 777 while my Dad was here and he helped to sort the grapes. Though really, none of the grapes needed sorting this year. The fruit all came in looking fantastic! We found one cluster with boytritis….ONE.
However, there were some bees. The yellow jackets loved the grapes as much as we did. Matt got stung 3 times one day.
We next brought in Syrah from Walla Walla, Summit View Vineyard. The Syrah looked great and we actually crushed a bit of the fruit instead just whole berries like we do for the Pinot. Syrah has a thicker skin and so you need to extract some juice in the beginning or it will be impossible to punch down.
Our last grapes came off on October 7th, both Pinot Noir from Beacon Hill Vineyard and Riesling from Chehalem Mountain Vineyard. The Riesling vines were planted long ago by Dick Erath and the trunks are now super thick and have grapes have great concentration of flavor.
Now Matt gets to make wine!