Harvest 2011

Harvest 2011 begins Thursday for Vincent Wine Company. We’re picking everything from our blocks at Armstrong Vineyard on Ribbon Ridge and Zenith Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. I am so excited. After this crazy growing season, where historic cold weather delayed budbreak until May and flowering until July, we’re near the end of October and finally we pick grapes.

How is the quality? We won’t really know until we have the fruit in the fermenters, but sugar levels are in the low 20s brix and pHs are in the 3.2 to 3.3 range. Just where I want them, for making wines with ripe flavors but energy, life, acid balance. Flavors are mixed, meaning some pretty explosive tasting berries and others with some bracing qualities that I prize. Let’s remember, we’re making wine, not fruit juice or eating grapes. I think grape flavors are overrated. Wine is a curing process. We’re taking raw meat and making bacon. There’s a big difference in the two. I’m looking for something in the final product that you can’t necessarily see in the raw material. What I want now are healthy, ripe grapes from a successful growing season. We have that.

And what a crazy growing season it was. A good indicator of a growing season here is at least 100 days from flowering until harvest, maybe 110 or longer depending on the season. Our early July flowering meant 100 days would be around October 12. In many years, we’d finish picking at that time. This year we knew we probably wouldn’t even begin until then. Crazy. Harvest is an outdoor activity. Does anyone think that outdoor events in the Willamette Valley in mid-October or later is a good idea?

Now, on the eve of October 20, we will finally pick. The grapes have had a long season after all. Turns out we’ve gotten the weather we need and things are turning out. I wouldn’t advise more seasons like this. Don’t plan an outdoor wedding this time of year. But for now, it looks like we might get lucky.

Stay tuned for more on harvest. Now I need some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long, and I hope great, day.