Category Archives: Harvest 2004
The rain is now falling steadily and the temperatures are struggling to reach 60º F. Hard to believe that less than a week ago we were enjoying the tail end of almost 3 weeks of warm weather with temperatures in the low 80′s. Now it feels like fall. The leaves turned color weeks ago and are now falling to the ground with the rain. The only consolation to bad weather this time of year is that the cellar is filled with new wines of outstanding quality.
We harvested our last fruit on the 6 th of October. The last few days of harvest saw the white wines arrive at the winery: Pinot Gris from the Wahle Vineyard and Five Mountains Vineyard, Riesling from Vigna Giovanni and Chardonnay from the Eyrie Vineyard. These were gently whole cluster pressed into settling tanks for an overnight clarification before being racked into new stainless steel barrels for their fermentations. Bergström Wines has moved away from older French oak barrels for white wine fermentation and will now do all of our white wines in stainless steel vessels. This is in an effort to keep our wines fresh and fruit driven.
We are excited to be working with Chardonnay from the Eyrie Vineyard this year. After not releasing a Chardonnay in 2003 because of its elevated alcohol, we have switched gears and are now focusing on a higher acid, lower alcohol, stainless steel fermented chardonnay from vines planted in 1967. This wine will be slowly fermented and aged on its lees for up to 2 years before its bottling where it will again be aged before its first release sometime in the next 3-4 years. Our goal is to create an ageable chardonnay from Oregon , one that is focused around acidity (not oak) and will pair well with the local restaurant fare.
After the white wines were in barrel we harvested our last Pinot Noirs of the vintage. Bishop Creek, a new vineyard for Bergström Wines this year, came in right before the older vines of the Hyland Vineyard.
As I write this note, we have close to 60 barrels filled from earlier fermentations now resting quietly in one corner of the winery building: Shea block 5, Shea Oak Block, Bergström 4-acre block, Bergström 115 block, Palmer Creek 115/Pommard. Today we are preparing to press out several fermentations including: Bergstrom Pommard block, Bergström Wadenswil block, de Lancellotti front block and de Lancellotti back block. We still have upwards of 15 tanks actively fermenting including a few which have only begun their fermentations.
Next harvest journal will see the completion of the vintage with a first take on wine quality lot by lot and potentially insight into the blends and single vineyard wines of 2004. Until then…. Stay warm and dry.
10/19/2004 – Showers
Wind: NE at 8mph
There is an early morning cloud cover as we prepare to harvest the de Lancellotti Vineyard. The picking bins are in place as the long steady line of headlights pour into the winery driveway. The picking crew is ready, although weary after 4 long days of harvesting our estate vineyards.
We have enjoyed a week of beautiful sunny skies with average temperatures in the mid 70′s to low 80′s. Nighttime temperatures are in the upper 40′s to low 50′s, the perfect cool climate for extended pinot noir hang time.
Who would have thought 7 days ago when—it looked like the worst was at hand—that we would be enjoying such ideal weather now? It feels like one of those Oregon Indian summers we all know and love. And the 10-day forecast is filled with sunshine.
We have finished the early fermentations which were picked before the rains almost 3 weeks ago, and they are surprisingly full of potential: dark colors, large mouthfeels of big sweet pinot noir fruit and lovely acidity (the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1999.) 20 barrels of Shea Block 5, Ayoub and Bergström Vineyard now sit quietly behind tanks filled with cold fresh fruit.
The last few days at the winery have been busy. We have 47 tons picked now with 80 more to go. We have picked the rest of the Shea Vineyard as well as the Bergström Vineyard and Palmer Creek. The fruit is well-balanced, having recovered very nicely from the rains. Acids are high and sugars are balanced. Pardon the expression, but it seems like a Burgindian vintage so far…
9/29/2004 – Fair
Wind: N at 6mph
Since the past entry we have waited through two weeks of stormy weather. The weather turned sour on the 10th of September and remained cloudy and rainy with cooler temperatures than average for the next 10 days. Several vineyards began to lost their nerve and picked in the rain, fearing the worst. Others picked because they had to, as the fragile young fruit that split during the August rains would not make it through these heavy downpours.
And when it seemed that we were on the brink of a catastrophic vintage with low sugars, high acids and poor flavor development… the clouds broke and the sun came out! On the 19th of September the storm subsided, and the weather forecast read like a dream come true–the miracle everyone was hoping for: 10 days of sunshine!
In winemaking it is often those who push the envelope that are rewarded with the greatest wines. In Oregon it is our cool climate that we depend on for cutting edge Pinot Noirs. After several hot vintages in a row we were all starting to believe in global warming. Now we finally have a vintage that screams classic Pinot Noir!
Yesterday, the 22nd of September, we harvested our last block of Shea Vineyard–13 days after the first Shea block was picked before the rains. Unlike Block 5 which was dessicated by berry splitting and insect damage, the Oak Block had sound fruit which looked beautiful on the sorting table and tasted great. Meanwhile, the Shea Block 5 has started fermenting as we inoculated it with its own native yeast strain on the 20th. The winery is once again filled with aromas of fermentation–a sweet unmistakable type of perfume.
Today we will see fruit from Palmer Creek in the Eola Hills. We will pick and co-ferment the 115 and Pommard blocks in one of our new 5-ton stainless steel fermentation tanks. Oddly enough the Palmer Creek fruit seemed to gain in ripeness and flavor during the stormy weather and did not lose integrity to dilution.
The picking schedule for the next week will see the two estate vineyards, Bergstrom and de Lancellotti, as well as Nysa towards the beginning of the week. We will also start bringing in Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
The winery is getting to be busy now. Friends and family as well as winery and vineyard crew are poised for another great harvest. The flavors of the pinot noir berries this year are terrific! Fresh, intense fruit profiles with very lively acidity should make for some very nice wines.
9/23/2004 – Fair
Wind: NW at 6mph
After perhaps one of the most challenging growing seasons in recent memory, harvest has snuck up on us again! We’re entering our vineyards one last time before the big rains, picking shears in hand, to bring a year’s work to fruition.
The 2004 vintage has been a year of extremes. We experienced a cold winter with snow and a 3-day ice storm which left 1-2 inches of ice on all the vines. The spring was marked by extremely hot days in March, which is rare if not unheard of in Oregon, with daytime temperatures reaching into the nineties. At budburst we saw some shoots that were far shorter than others due to nitrogen problems and mites feeding on the foliage. Around flowering, temperatures dropped and the vines’ circulatory systems were inundated with unusable nitrogen, causing them to begin aborting flower clusters. This phenomanon mixed with poor weather and a very long set left us with a small crop. In many areas we had a potential for 0.5 tons per acre only.
We were then blessed with a hot, dry summer which blazed with over 20 days peaking at 95+ degrees in the vineyard. It looked like harvest would be 2-3 weeks early with the small crop. But in late August we experienced 2-3″ of very unseasonable rains. Suddenly our hot, dry summer became the second wettest August since 1967! The soggy soils meant that the vines would soak up excessive moisture, and with this feeding came thousands of small berries which started bursting, leaving entire clusters succeptible to mold growth.
And then, as if the vintage seemed to be the greatest of our worries in life, the Oregon wine industry suffered a terrible loss: Jimi Brooks, one of our native sons, a bright star and a close friend, died suddenly at the age of 38 of a heart attack. He will be missed greatly…
Now it is the ninth of September and ideally harvest would be 2 weeks off, but the skies are once again threatening rain, so we have begun harvesting the younger vines which may not be able to hold on to their small fragile crop.
Today we picked Shea block 5, but we’ll wait to pick the Oak block until after the rains. Tomorrow we will pick the younger vines in the Bergström Vineyard whose sugars are very hight but whose skins are thin on the berries– I worry about botrytis setting in.
The exciting thing for me about Pinot Noir is the variation in vintage character. As pinot noir is the perfect vehicle to taste the differences in soil, so to is it the perfect vehicle to taste and remember certain years. I am excited to taste and experience the wines from such a melancholic year full of ups and downs. We hope you will joun us as we delve into our sixth vintage at Bergstrom Wines.
9/9/2004 – Fair
We’d like to welcome you to our new online harvest journal, where you’ll find weekly updates straight from the vineyards! Check this page frequently for new pictures and information such as harvest dates, weather reports, winemaker notes, and all impressions of the harvest as it happens. This year, harvest will begin on Thursday, September 9th. All of us here at Bergström are excited for you to join us for our sixth harvest season, Bergström’s harvest 2004 !
The Bergström Family