Category Archives: Harvest 2005
Halloween already? Usually as I carve pumpkins with my son, the winery is clean and quiet with a cellar full of new wine. This year however, proving to be one of the longest harvests in recent memory, the winery is still full of fermenting tanks and even cold soaks which have not yet begun to ferment yet. There are empty barrels everywhere waiting to be filled.
Wow! What a harvest, to say the least. What started out as a very challenging viticultural year, from start to finish with enormous mildew pressure and various weather circumstances, turned into an extended “waiting game” with mother nature. This is one of those harvests the Old School has been waiting/itching for. The cool climate of Oregon “shined” this year with rain, wind, fog and, fill in the blank, bad weather event. But I have a feeling that Oregon vintners rose to the occasion and the Pinot Noirs and white wines will be spectacular with amazing acidity, soft tannins and longevity to spare.
This year we were fortunate to be able to work with some great vineyard sites and farmers. New to the lineup this year we had Maresh Vineyard, Wren Vineyard, Chehalem Mountain Vineyard, La Collina Vineyard, Cherry Grove Vineyard and Parish Hill Vineyard. The fruit from these sites did very well and will make for some interesting additions to the Bergström lineup. Of course we also saw some amazing fruit from the vineyards we have been working with for years: Palmer Creek Vineyard, Hyland Vineyard, Shea Vineyard, Broadley Vineyard, Bishop Creek Vineyard, Eyrie Vineyard, Wahle Vineyard, Vigna Giovanni and Five Mountains Vineyard.
The Estate vineyards (Bergström and de Lancellotti) really rose to the occasion this year and we are now beginning to see these sites’ true colors as they start to perform more and more like older vine vineyards. We also saw fruit from our new and third estate vineyard from just next to the winery building on Calkins Lane .
This year I took great pleasure in trying all sorts of different fermentation styles and techniques. The great natural physiological ripeness meant that the chance for harsh tannins was minimal and skins were bleeding amazing color with little intervention. We fermented several lots of fruit in new French oak tanks which gave the wines a lush and broad mouth-feel with intense aromatics. We fermented several lots using large percentages of whole clusters (no de-stemming) which forged wines of wonderful old world flavor and spiciness. We relied on native yeast strains to guide the majority of our fermentations this year as we usually do, but we also selectively experimented with some Burgundian yeast strains. As I walk through the full barrel cellar now I can’t help but be thankful for another year as Bergström Wines ‘ winemaker and vineyard manager. I am blessed to be able to work with my family, with great vineyard sites and farmers and with the forces of nature to craft these wines which will be enjoyed on dinner tables around the world. So let’s take a sneak peek at what the wines are like from the 2005 Vintage:
Bergström Vineyard: Amazingly soft and supple with great color intensity and aromatics. The acid profile on these wines is high but balanced and this should be a very nice vintage for this vineyard. Characteristic aromas of red fruits (cherries and raspberries) are starting to appear and the wines have very fine grained silky tannins already. Already showing very deep with layers of complexity.
de Lancellotti Vineyard: Could be the best year yet from this young site! Great color from all four blocks and wonderful textures already with cool dark fruit profiles, nice high acidity and fine grained silky tannins. Still a youngster but I think there is solid potential here.
Bergström Winery Estate: New wine from a new vineyard to be released sometime in 2007-2008. Fermented in a 100% whole cluster style in a French oak fermenting tank, this wine has enormous aromatics similar to a northern Rhone Syrah with black olive, pepper, big black fruits, dried herbs and minerals. Already this wine shows huge potential.
Shea Vineyard: Big, big and big. Black color from all four lots with the Oak block showing it’s characteristic dusty tannins, the 828 clone having great red fruit liqueur appeal and the Block 5 is, as always, big and soft with enormous fruit character. This should be a very impressive blend.
Broadley Vineyard: Perhaps the darkest wine I have ever made. When I swirl the glass it stays stained purple for up to 2 minutes. Huge aromatics characteristic of Broadley: blackberry, raspberry, cherry and earth. Kind of unruly and youthful for now but shows a bright (I mean dark) future.
Nysa: Classy stuff. Very nice Dundee Hills soils profile in the nose and mouth. Not as flamboyant as some of the others now as Malolactic fermentation has begun in this wine so the nose is muted but very elegant and shows great Pinot Noir style.
Our last Pinot Noir was Maresh and Temperance Hill Vineyards, on the 21st of October. The last white wines to be harvested were Wren Chardonnay and Cherry Grove Riesling on the 22 nd of October (2 weeks later than in 2004!) The last vineyards to give up their fruit to the winery were showing signs that the year was quickly drawing to an end and that winter is definitely on its way. Fruit fell from the stem with a light touch of the hand and every part of the grapevine which is usually green (stem, seed and branch) have long been brown and lignified. Botrytis and other molds were now growing in places where we did not want them to grow. Yet flavors, colors and technological numbers (Brix, PH and TA) were all staying balanced and attractive. Now that the sorting table and destemmer have been sanitized and put to rest for the year, the press is now busy every day and stained a dark purple. Fermentations are finishing up and the new wine is being bled off of the skins and stems into new awaiting French oak barrels in our new barrel cellar. These new wines are showing great promise for the future. So far, we have pressed off all of the Shea Vineyard, Bergström Vineyard, most of de Lancellotti, Broadley and Parish Hill. We still have several Palmer Creek , Hyland, Vigna Giovanni and Nysa tanks to go. The next 10 days will see the completion of most fermentations and the barrel cellar will be filled.
Meanwhile, the white wines are slowly bubbling away. It has been a cool enough vintage that I have let the white wines ferment outdoors. The cold nights and cool days will ensure a long and complex fermentation for all of these wines. We should see the Chardonnays finish fermentation first in the next couple of weeks and then the Pinot Gris and Riesling which won’t finish their fermentations until January or February!
Yesterday, our harvest intern, Matt Evans from Gibbston Valley in Central Otago New Zealand , left for home, after two and a half long months of working at Bergström. This is the second year that Matt has worked for us as our assistant winemaker at harvest time and he has really been a key part of our family operation. Thanks Matt! If any of you readers get a chance to visit the Central Otago region of New Zealand , make sure that you swing by Gibbston Valley and say hi, they are making some real world-class wines there.
The next harvest journal will be the final entry for the year. I will list the wines which were made and give initial tasting notes and my thoughts on where they will end up one year from now. It has been a great year but a long and challenging one. We can’t thank enough all of the men and women who help to manage our vineyards and vineyard contracts. It was a difficult year in the vineyards and the hard work paid off. Also, friends and clients who helped out throughout the harvest with sorting help, punchdown talent, and of course food and company. Cheers.
Today we are harvesting the mighty Hyland Vineyard. These old vines have always made up the strength and power of the Cumberland Reserve. The thick Pinot Noir skins on this site allow a longer hang time and later harvest to ensure optimal physiological ripeness. We willharvest roughly 12 tons from Hyland today including Jimi Brooks’ fruit from Yard 5 Wadenswil clone and Yard 2 Coury clone. Jimi and I both shared an affinity for the Pinot Noir from this wonderful old vineyard site and it is a pleasure and an honor for me to be able to help tend to his wines to help keep the Brooks label alive in his absence, as many of his friends are helping to do in other wineries around the Willamette Valley. The spirit of this industry is strong and harvest time always reinforces our love for each other and for what it is that we do.
The last entry I made, I talked briefly about food. Harvest wouldn’t be harvest, and wine wouldn’t quite be wine, if it weren’t for good food. Around the world as the grapes are being picked and fermentations are starting and new wine is going into barrels, harvest crews are all rejoicing with food. Maybe good food during the workday helps inspire great winemaking. Maybe it just keeps us warm and awake. Whatever the case, we have enjoyed wonderful nourishment this harvest season whether it be fresh chanterelles in a creamy risotto, herbed lamb on the barbecue, fresh steamed King Crab, Foie Gras and various terrines of pate, stews, soups and native salmon..all of a sudden I am very hungry. Our executive chef for the season has been David Bergen of Tina’s Restaurant in Dundee . David and Tina share our love of winemaking and food pairing and have thoughtfully and caringly nourished our crew with fine meals over the duration. Thanks guys.
Back to the winery.
Last night we harvested Nysa Vineyard Pinot Noir, La Collina Pinot Noir and Vigna Giovanni Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling. The fruit from each site was beautiful and fully intact with little traces of damage from the weather. The juices were concentrated and the flavors were impressive. These should make nice wines! The Riesling had a very nice percentage (10-15%) of noble rot which should bring the sugar levels up some and add some nice texture to this vintage. Tomorrow we will harvest the last fruit from the de Lancellotti Vineyard and all of the Pinot Gris from the Wahle vineyard. Then we will take Wednesday and Thursday to concentrate on pressing out some Pinot Noir fermentations which are finishing up before we harvest our last grapes on Friday and Saturday, almost two weeks later than last year.
Today is Saturday and the rain is once again falling hard and slightly sideways as there is a strong wind accompanying it. The past few days have been busy with harvesting and processing fruit and the weather was almost cooperative. On Wednesday we brought in the last fruit from the Bergström Vineyard in Dundee ; the Wadenswil and Dijon 115 blocks. The fruit was small and concentrated with an almost negligible percentage of botrytis and little bird damage (which for this time of year is great news!) Earlier on in the year I might have added more whole clusters into these fermentations but now with the risk of bunch rot inside the clusters and molds on the rachis of the cluster, we will carefully sort and de-stem 100% of this fruit.
On Thursday we harvested the first fruit from the de Lancellotti Vineyard and all of the fruit from Palmer Creek . The Palmer Creek fruit is grown by Janet and Larry Richards down in the northern part of the Eola Hills and is always gorgeous Pinot Noir which has made up a great percentage of our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir over the past few years. The de Lancellotti fruit looked to be in
excellent shape with a small percentage of botrytis, which was easily sorted in the field, and no signs of dilution. This wine should be a great example of the 2005 vintage as the brix level was 23.1 and pH was 3.3 (excellent numbers for balanced Pinot Noir with acid and low alcohol!) We also harvested the Eyrie Chardonnay on Friday. These old vines planted in 1966 by David and Diana Lett had very low yields this year and we were thankful to have received 1.5 tons of good looking fruit. Our good friend Jason Lett even hand delivered them in his pick up truck two bins at a time (his harvest truck broke down.) The Chardonnay is whole cluster pressed for 3 hours with no tossing of the skins and stems. It is then racked to tank where it will settle cold for 48 hours before being racked into stainless and oak barrels for fermentation with 5 different yeast types.
On Friday we harvested the Cherry Grove Vineyard which is a new vineyard we are working with near Forest Grove, Bishop Creek and Canary Hill. The fruit that is arriving is showing some wear and tear from such an extended hang time but the flavors are great, the skins and seeds have ripe tannins and the berries are leaching out dark color almost immediately.
Today is Saturday and we are not harvesting fruit because of the rain. Sunday through next Wednesday is forecasted to be very beautiful and dry so we will resume picking tomorrow and finish up most everything by Wednesday of next week. We still have Hyland, Nysa, Maresh and Temperance Hill Pinot Noir to come and Wahle, Vigna Giovanni, Chehalem Mountains , Cherry Grove and Five Mountains Pinot Gris and Riesling as well as the Wren Chardonnay. For now though, we are going to spend the day cleaning up the winery, racking new wines to barrel and feasting! Our good friend Michael Denton from Merenda Restaurant in Bend Oregon is bringing us fresh king crab, shrimp bisque, crab cakes, crusty bread and Champagne for lunch. After all, all work and no play..
After several days of rain, fog and cool weather, the sun has peeked through the clouds and we are starting to harvest fruit again. The forecast calls for a week of fair conditions with little rain and more sun than we have seen in a while. The weather forecast cannot be trusted from here on out. We will probably not see the kind of warm and intense sunshine which will create a rise in sugars and a decrease in acids but the fruit will have a chance to dry out from the rain and build some more flavor and complexity. Normally in October we have reasonably nice harvest conditions until about Halloween and then the chance of sunshine diminishes greatly and the temperatures drop considerably. So now our harvest window is limited to the next three weeks. We have approximately 50 tons of fruit inside of the winery and roughly 100 tons to go. It is going to be a busy few weeks to come.
In the vineyards, the soils are wet and the cover crops which were carefully drilled into the rows last month are starting to emerge; sweet peas, rye, fescues, and other legumes will grow during the winter months to control erosion and will be tilled under in the spring, giving the soil lots of rich organic matter to fuel its microbiological population which help feed our vines. The leaves of the vines are now turning brilliant colors; reds, oranges and bright yellows. It is apparent this time of year where the wet spots in vineyards are because the canopy is still bright green and full of leaves whereas the thinner soiled vineyard blocks, which lack water, have almost lost all of their leaves in the fruiting zone. The birds are swarming through the vine rows filling their bellies with precious wine-grapes before their long journey south.
In the winery it smells like sweet fermentation (the closest I can come to defining the smell of fermentation is: a big warm jelly doughnut or fresh baked pie laced with the sting of carbon dioxide gas.) We have taken our whole-cluster fermentations to barrel already and we will be preparing several more barrels today and tomorrow, as we get ready to press out several more tanks from our initial picking two weeks ago. Over the last week we have harvested the last fruit from Shea Vineyard (Block 5 and the 828 clone block.), Black Hole Vineyard, Ayoub Vineyard, Hidden RocksElton Vineyard, Ortman Vineyard and today we are bringing in two tons of Pinot Noir from Meredith Mitchell. Even after sitting through one and one half inches of rain and several days of cloudy and cold weather, the grapes are full of great flavors with nice acids and ripe skins and seeds.
The new wines are surprisingly dark and rich with enormous flavors. The wines are high in natural acidity and lower in alcohol than previous years and show wonderful potential. As the fruit hangs longer, acids will begin to fall to levels which may need additions of tartaric acid to correct PH’s and keep fermentations sound. I have not seen a vineyard yet needing a sugar addition (chaptalization,) which is often common in cool and challenging vintages, and we have not had to bleed any of the cold soaks due to over-bloated berries. In summation: so far, so good. This week will see the final fruit from the Bergström Vineyard, de Lancellotti Vineyard, Eyrie Vineyard Chardonnay, Canary Hill, Durant Vineyard, Cherry Hill and others before we start on the Old vines from Hyland, Maresh and Nysa and the majority of the Pinot Gris and Riesling the week after that.
The clear skies and mild weather have left for now. The sky is gray and dark and the rain is falling steadily. It has rained over 1.5 inches in the past 24 hours which is a new record for Oregon , not seen since the 1940’s. The forecast is for more of the same over the next three days and then a lightening in the front which has temporarily stopped harvest. Over the past three days we have harvested close to 30 tons of fruit, mostly young vines, which were ready to harvest and some vineyards which had sustained injury due to high mildew pressure during the course of the growing season and would not fare well during the rainy days to come. We still have the majority of our fruit hanging on the vine. Flavors still need time. This year seems to be marked by lower than normal PH’s , which indicates unripe acids, while sugars are slowly but surely creeping up. Flavor is king though, and it is taking a long time to develop. The grapevines in several vineyards are shutting down and losing their leaves or starting to turn brilliant fall colors. Older vines are still slowly working and sport woody canes and rich green foliage. The fruit in most vineyards is a brilliant and picturesque blue/purple.
We started the 2005 harvest with the Oak block and block 9 of the Shea Vineyard followed by our 115 clone block at Broadley Vineyard. Both sites looked and tasted ripe and are now cold soaking in tanks, slowly bleeding out ripe color. The second day of harvest we brought in the 4-acre block as well as the high-density blocks and Pommard block of the Bergström Vineyard. This year the stems look ripe and seeds are not giving us astringency when cracked, so we are doing several whole cluster-fermentations in our new wooden fermentation tanks to optimize the aromatic and textural appeal of the vintage.
2005 is the first vintage for our new Bergström Winery Estate Block which is a 0.5 acre high density planting of 115 and 777 clone Pinot Noir vines just adjacent to the winery. We have called it the Horse-shoe block since it’s inception in 2001 since we found 4 horseshoes (but no horse) buried in the soil as we cultivated it prior to planting. This block was picked and put directly into tank with no destemming for a traditional 100% whole cluster fermentation. The fruit was inoculated the next day with a Burgundian yeast selection and will be manually punched down by foot. This block will yield a precious 4 barrels of wine to be released sometime late in 2006. The fruit, which is in the winery, is sound and ripe and tastes like potentially very successful wine and that makes us happy. But our eyes are now to the skies for the next few days as we will be walking through vineyards and paying close attention to the health of the remaining fruit which needs to be picked. This is shaping up to be a very interesting harvest. This is the kind of weather which brought so many winemakers to Oregon . And the kind of conditions which still brings so many winemakers to Oregon . In this marginal climate we are making wine at the edge of quality and disaster. That is always what has drawn us closer to each other as a community and as a region. Pinot Noir is not what vacations are made of; sunny and clear with hot temperatures forecasted.. Pinot Noir is a year by year experience which is often at its best after the most difficult of weather.
Last year at this very time we were charging into the fields to pick after having diligently waited through two and a half weeks of straight rain and cool temperatures. Those wines are now resting in bottles or in tanks waiting for the later bottling in November. 2004 was a challenging year in every aspect but, as predicted, the wines are showing great character and definition and promise. We are proud of these wines. Hard to believe that it is already time for the 2005 harvest. This year has been a blessed year for our family. A new Bergström son was born, our great aunt Mathilda who sponsored our father to come to the new world from Sweden turns 100 years old, construction is finishing on our new barrel storage building and tasting room and yes, we have worked hard and patiently in the fields to bring forward another great year of wine to our friends.
2005 is presenting itself very well. After a very dry winter and early spring, we found ourselves in a drought situation with snowlevels in the mountains 200-300% below normal. A very wet March, April and May saturated our soils with replenishing rains and gave the vines plenty of stores to grow healthily through the hot and dry summer months of July and August. Once again we suffered influorescence necrosis (when the grape cluster flowers shrivel up and die instead of bearing fruit) in the Dundee Hills and yields will be much lower than usual. This was a year of tremendous mildew pressure and we had to be much more attentive in the vineyards, often times having to spray sulfur every 5 days instead of the usual 7-10 day interval. As Biodynamic certified farmers, we have to be strict in the vineyards during periods of high mildew/botrytis pressure as we cannot and will not use systemic or synthetic fungicides.
It is now September and we are experiencing lovely cool days with high temperatures in the mid 70’s and cool nights with lows in the mid 40’s to low 50’s. The grapes are beautiful in almost every vineyard we work with. The color is vibrant and the acidity is still very strong and holding. Sugars are reasonable at 20-23 Brix and are very slowly rising. This will be a great year for flavor (if the weather will hold of course!) We will begin to harvest the younger vineyard sites next week and will move into October for the estate vineyards, the older vine Pinot Noirs and the white wines. I hope that you will join us as we document another fun and exciting, hopefully informative, year of making wine at Bergström. We wish all of our friends and associates who make wine around the world our very best this harvest. Stay safe and work hard.