Category Archives: Harvest 2006
All good things must come to an end. The annual cycle is complete. Now comes rest. Rest for the plants, rest for the soil, rest for the workers and rest for the wine, until the springtime air begins to stir things to life again. The grapes have all been harvested. Our last fruit picked was 96-clone Chardonnay from the Durant Vineyard in Dundee on October 27 th . A beautiful golden hue to the berries with spots of sun-tanned brown. Delicious!
The tanks are almost all emptied. There are still some fermentations slowly bubbling away in the now colder temperatures of the cellar. Chardonnay barrels and Riesling tanks slowly fizz, releasing a nectar-like aroma into the air: peaches, pineapples, apples and sweet spices. These will continue at an intentionally slow pace until the late winter or early spring. They are fun to taste now though, kind of like being in a candy shop.
It has been only one month since we began harvest, although it feels like much longer than that. The team has worked very hard day and night without much rest and I am sure that they look forward to taking some days off and resting in the warmth of the indoors. But alas, it is not to be. The compost needs to be spread and tilled under before the winter frosts and our last Biodynamic sprays need to be applied to the soil, vine canes and leaves before they lose all of their foliage. New compost needs to be built for next year and new vineyard blocks need to be laid out for an early spring planting. I used to tell people that December and January were great months because we could rest, now I tell them that they are great months because the cycle starts again.
Due to a larger harvested than was foreseen, I am waiting for a container of 140 new French oak barrels which are on a ship heading our way from Burgundy. We will be busy taking new wines to barrel until the middle of December now. The good news is that the wines merit the special attention. The 2006 Pinot Noirs will be aromatic, sleek and, if I may say..sexy. The wines have elegant structure and great fresh fruit appeal and will probably be for near to mid term drinking upon release. Could be a great year of approachable and delicious wines (while we wait for the monstrous 2005’s to mellow.)
Thank you for tuning in to see what happened day to day here at Bergström Winery. We have a lot of fun doing what we do and it is nice to share our experience with you the consumer, the critic, the aficionado or the curiously lost web surfer looking for directions to the Bergström Air Force Base in Texas. No matter how you found us on-line, I encourage you to come and visit us in person. Our tasting room is warm and friendly and we are always eager to share a cup of cheer with fellow Pinot Noir fans. Maybe you can tell us one of your stories.
Have a nice winter and we’ll do it again next year! Cheers.
Today I woke up to a much different skyline than the one I have seen over the several past busy weeks. One of my favorite skylines in the world..San Francisco. Sunrise over San Francisco ‘s Bay is second only to a sunrise in the vineyard on a cool fall day when the leaves have turned golden. The small islands, the still water reflecting the towering bridges and buildings and the little white sail boats bobbing about all seem to be in perfect unison, like out of a stylized painting of what you would hope for in a San Francisco sunrise.
No, I haven’t gone crazy and fled Oregon for some serene harvest-rehab center.Caroline and I are in San Francisco, joined by my sister Kim and my brother in law Alan for the Wine Spectator’s California Wine Experience where we were invited to showcase our wines alongside a dazzling line-up of California, Oregon and Washington wineries. We are pouring the 2004 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir and it is tasting pretty darn special right now.
Pouring wine to hundreds of frenzied wine enthusiasts is always a pleasure and it is an honor for us to have been included in the list of notable wineries for this year’s event. Probably the only good excuse to escape the winery for a few days in the middle of harvest is a working vacation like this one. The event spans three days and includes some great wine tastings, and meals. I highly recommend the Wine Experience to all of you. Last night alone I had the opportunity to try great wines from such names as: Cayuse, Kosta Browne, Siduri, Au Bon Climat, Aurojo, Dalla Valle, DuMol, Aubert, Kistler, Harlan, Shafer and more.
Back at the winery, Jorge and the guys are working busily pressing our last white grapes that are arriving from the vineyards and taking new wines from tank to barrels (Playing winemaker over a cell phone is not as much fun as one would envision.) The early harvested Pinot Noirs are finishing up fermentation and my early word is that they are of high quality. As we begin to fill the barrel cellar with wine, it is fun, if not premature, to taste and try to see the future. These wines are extremely aromatic wines with good deep red hues (some leaning towards purple) and fleshy weight in the mouth. The tannins this year are ripe and soft and non-obtrusive. The word to best describe the vintage thus far is “delicious” (or “Yummy” if you want the correct wine jargon.)
Our last Pinot Noir (Maresh Vineyard) was picked last Friday and our last Chardonnay fruit arrived yesterday from Carabella Vineyard. We still have about 6 tons of Riesling hanging on the vine and I believe we will havest that this weekend. Overall quality has been great and quantities are still much higher than in the past three years.
Okay, so the harvest gods were not rooting for the Oregon Ducks as much as I was.big deal right? So I lost a bet and if you want to see me wearing Cal Bear gear around ..say.Thanksgiving Open House, I have a brother in law who went to Berkeley who will most assuredly make it happen.
(Webmaster note: Josh forgot to add that his brother in law does a lot of the web editing on the side to help out…)
We are two days away from finishing the Pinot Noir harvest. The past days have been a tempest of fruit, pressure-washer mist, honey bees and yellow jackets and coffee/donuts/white burgundy/fill in the blank pleasure beverage/food. The winery is full to the gills. Does anyone out there have bathtub space to lease? Fruit is immaculate, ripe and tasty, tasty, tasty! The dehydration and dessication we were worried about turned out to be less of a worry and more of an ingredient. Fruit is turning up plumper than it looked in the field 5 days ago and flavors are fantastic. The early wines that we have barreled down are very pretty with amazing fresh berry aromas (vs. the pruny and tired aromas I was fearing once dehydration started in the fields.) We have had to add acid and a small amount of water routinely as sugars are off the charts and PH’s are a little higher than I would like to see in must readings. This, like 2003, will be the year of the winemaker. Those who are willing to help the wine do more than what the wine wants to naturally, will benefit this year.
First of all, no juice above 26 Brix can ferment to dryness and leave a balanced Pinot Noir. This year we are seeing Brix readings of 27-28 because of dehydration in the vineyard due to East winds and warm temperatures in late September and early October. This must be compensated for in the winery with a small amount of water added to the must to lower the sugars in the juice to a fermentable level for our yeasts. No..adding water to grape juice does not dilute the final product. Just think of it as making your Pinot Noir 14.5% alcohol vs. 18%. When water is added early enough in the cold-soak process, we are merely compensating for the dehydration which happened in the field and the wine will still be astonishingly ripe and rich (without the burning alcoholic finish that you love so much in late harvest Zinfandel.)
We will finish the Pinot Noir harvest on Friday. The past few days have seen the Hyland Vineyard, Temperance Hill Vineyard, Elton Vineyard, Cherry Grove Vineyard, Lea’s Vineyard, Vigna Giovanni Vineyard and the last of the Bergström Vineyard come in. The Pinot Noirs from 2006 are showing ripe flavors with good color, beautiful aromatics and medium to high density (mouthfeel.) I think it is too soon to say how long they will age or if they will be for immediate consumption until malolactic fermentation is done in the spring but he overall quality is high. We have also seen Chardonnay from Eyrie, Anderson Family Vineyard, Elton Vineyard and Durant vineyard. The earliest Riesling has arrived from Vigna Giovanni and the juice itself throws off astounding aromas of apricots as if you were in the orchard from where they grew. This will be an amazing vintage for Oregon white wines..and you can quote me on that. The white wines will have amazing aromatics, good acidity and I think good density. Whether or not they will age is yet to be determined of course but I am very excited about the quality.
Stay tuned to the next entry as we will finish the Pinot Noir harvest and get into Riesling territory. There are still over 200 tons of red wines cold-soaking in the winery waiting to start their fermentation which means lots of late nights, lots of decision making, lots of Martha’s Tacos and white Burgundies/fill in the blank pleasure beverage (I don’t know..maybe there are some people out there who don’t drink white Burgundy.)
Thanks for reading.
We are now into the third week of harvest and the pace is quickening. Over 160 tons of Pinot Noir have come through our doors and the busiest time of the year is beginning. Now, as fruit continues to come in, we are continuously punching down and pumping over over 40 tanks of fermenting fruit and cold soaks all the while monitoring twice daily the sugar content and temperatures of the fermentations. We have begun pressing out early harvested ferments and taking the new wine to barrel. Monitoring early white wine fermentations in barrel is crucial to ensure a slow and cool process which will create full bodied and balanced wines. As well, we are walking through vineyards where fruit is still hanging on the vines to see the ripening process first hand so that we can calculate the best day to harvest. The work-days start blending together and we need to look at the daily “to-do” board to remember what day it is. Work days are roughly 14-16 hours long and the work is now 7 days a week for the foreseeable future.
With only 30-40 tons of Pinot Noir left to harvest and 30-35 tons of Chardonnay and Riesling still hanging on the vines, we are nearing the end of the picking. As the picking and sorting processes end we can focus on the cold soaks and fermentations in-house. To adequately deal with a vintage like this, you need to be well prepared. Bergström Wines has had a large and dedicated crew working long hours to optimize the vintage. We have a full time sorting crew of 6 people, a full time punch-down crew of 4 men, two forklift/truck drivers, two interns, two ladies taking temperature and sugar measurements, 4-5 friends helping out and Jorge and myself to manage the operation. Daily we see 20-21 people in the winery which makes it seem like a beehive sometimes more than a winery.
The estate vines have almost all been harvested. Thursday saw the entire de Lancellotti Vineyard (our Chehalem Mountains estate planted entirely to Pinot Noir on sandy sedimentary soils) come in as well as the 0.4 acre Bergström Winery Estate (our super high-density block of 115 and 667 Pinot Noir which sits just adjacent to our winery building). Both vineyards show enormous promise this year as sugars are off the charts but with balanced acidities, very ripe seeds and stems and delicious flavors. The Bergström Winery Estate is traditionally fermented in a French oak tank as a 100% whole cluster fermentation. The de Lancellotti vineyard is now mature enough so that we can ferment individual clones separately and in-fact create several fermentations from the same clonal blocks to experiment with the appropriate winemaking technique for each clone/rootstock configuration. Very exciting fruit from the estates this year and abundant quantities compared to previous years!
Almost 5 acres of Bergström Vineyard (our Dundee Hills estate planted entirely to Pinot Noir on red volcanic soils) still bears fruit. We plan to bring the rest of this fruit in on Monday and Tuesday of this upcoming week. The quality here is apparent and this is the latest we have harvested this 8-year old site in a dry and extended year such as this one. Sugars are soaring around 27 Brix with acids beginning to fall but the flavors which have developed are astonishing and I believe this will be a tremendous vintage for this vineyard.
The white grapes out in the field look to have tremendous quality! This will be an outstanding vintage for Oregon white wines, especially Chardonnays and Rieslings. Acids are still balanced with PH’s around 3.1-3.25 and sugars are reasonable with Brix readings around 22-23. What is more important is that this long extended hang time has allowed for superior flavor development. This year we will bring in Chardonnay from some of Oregon’s great vineyard sites: Eyrie Vineyard (42 year old own-rooted Draper clones in the Dundee Hills), Anderson Vineyard (10 year old own rooted Dijon 76 clone in the Dundee Hills), Carabella Vineyard (8-10 year old Dijon 76 clone vines on Nekkia soils on Parrett Mountain), Durant Vineyard (15+ year old Dijon 76 clones in the Dundee Hills), Lea’s Vineyard (formerly Jacob Hart Vineyard with 15+ year old Wente clones on the Chehalem Mountain) and Wren Vineyard (10+ year old vines in the Coast range.)
Today I write my harvest journal from home where I am spending my first day off with my family. The crew is busy cleaning the winery and organizing for the next picking day tomorrow. During harvest I usually pick one or two strategic days to re-charge and see my family before jumping back into the fray. The strategy usually revolves around whether or not the Oregon Ducks are playing football or not. Happy Saturday and Go Ducks!
If you were to ask any winemaker to describe harvest in 10 words or less I’m sure that many would have trouble finding the best words to best recreate what happens during this time of the year. Words like Frenzy, chaotic, madness, stress, jubilation, celebration might float to the top of the list. The truth is that harvest is a ritual, a rite of passage and best described by the individual who endures and experiences it. It is a subjective journey which lasts 2 months (give or take) and is unique to each winery.
At Bergström Wines, Harvest is a family affair and a time to share with the best of friends and colleagues. We take the time to enjoy what is happening around us. Up on the top of Calkins Lane you can see the dust rising from the hazelnut orchards, the fruit trucks hurtling down the highways, the colors changing in the fields, forests and skies, the pumpkins ripening in the garden. It is truly the best time of the year for us.
Today marks the 6 th day of harvest and we are already 120 tons into it. The past day has seen more fruit than we know what to do with. The 2006 vintage can definitely be summed up as abundant. If we could ferment fruit in empty bathtubs…well, we wouldn’t go that far but you get the point. The fruit is extremely ripe with brown seeds, gorgeous flavors and exotic statistics. Funny how Mother Nature compensates for short years. Shea Vineyard is almost all in now, the 828 clone comes in tomorrow and is more than ready. The colors are dark, the berries are dimpled with dehydration and the flavors are extremely exotic. Very impressive stuff. Could be another fantastic year for Shea Vineyard.
Nysa Vineyard was harvested today and looks incredible. Acidities have stayed reasonable with high sugars and intense flavors. As well, 5.7 tons were harvested off of 4 acres which is higher than in past years (1.4 tons per acre vs. 0.4 tons per acre in past years.)
Bergström Vineyard is still hanging with over 120+ days of hangtime since bloom with enormous potential. I am pushing the envelope on the weather with this site this year and will harvest it when the weather threatens to change for the worse. In years like these it is best to tempt fate with patience. We have seen Palmer Creek , Pelos Sandberg and Anderson Family Vineyard come in with fantastic flavors, numbers and appearance. Five tons of de Lancellotti vineyard was harvested this morning. The leaves are yellow and falling out of the fruiting zone. Remaining is the rest of Bergström Vineyard, de Lancellotti Vineyard. Only small amounts of white wine have started to appear at the winery but the bulk of the Chardonnay and Riesling will hang for 1-2 more weeks. Stay tuned.
Another blazing hot day around the winery. Is it really almost October? The temperatures neared 90 degrees today in the vineyards and on the crush pad. Fruit had to be processed quickly to avoid the hot afternoon temperatures. I keep thinking how this year is beginning to remind me more and more of 2003. Heat and East winds over the past three or four days has dehydrated grape vines and fruit has gathered sugar at an alarming rate. Potential alcohols have moved from 12.5% on Sunday to 15%+ today! Acids are slowly precipitating but are still reasonable. The positive side is that flavor development is coming on strong and seeds are very brown in most vineyard sites meaning that the tannins should be ripe.
Today was our third day harvesting fruit. On Monday we harvested part of the Bergström Vineyard. Tuesday saw the arrival of the first fruit from Shea Vineyard and block 2 and the front yard from the Bergström Vineyard. Today we harvested Bishop Creek (Yamhill-Carlton District), Black Hole Vineyard ( Parrett Mountain ) and Hidden Rocks Vineyard (Eola Hills.) The fruit looks very nice coming in the door and little sorting has been needed save for the occasional leaf or sunburned berry. Our vineyards worked very hard early on eliminating any green or sunburned berries so that our sorters would have an easier job at the winery. It is always easier to eliminate flawed fruit in the vineyard than on the sorting table.
Tonight the sorting ladies are preparing a traditional Mexican meal of Flautas and beans fried over chiles. Tomorrow we will not pick any fruit. It will be a day of organization and examination of the fruit which has already come in. The whole cluster tanks will start to ferment soon and we will start to punch them down by foot.
Today was the first day of picking for Bergström Wines…always a celebration. The beginning of harvest is a wonderful feeling of achievement and anticipation. The farming season is drawing to an end but the time for winemakers to shine is now. The crew assembled in the dark under the stars in the Bergström Vineyard this morning. The fruit bins were taken off of the flatbed truck and placed in Block 1, a south facing block of Dijon clones 777 and 114 on Riparia Gloire (always one of the ripest and first blocks to be picked and one of the blocks responsible for the “Whole Cluster Selection.”)
Unlike other vineyards, Bergström Wines does not pay our crew by the bucket but by the hour so that we can carefully select the best clusters and sort out unwanted clusters or berries in the field before the fruit reaches the winery. That said, the fruit is then carefully picked over one last time upon the sorting belt to ensure that only the best clusters are being used for our wines. Having
studied in Burgundy and seen harvests in the old world, I believe in a slower paced careful study of the fruit as it is being harvested rather than a frantic race to fill buckets with fruit, leaves, rocks, pruning shears etc. Our vineyard men work hard all year long towards a qualitative goal so I prefer that we finish the year on the same note. The crew members slowly made their way through the block and filled roughly 18 bins, singing, laughing and celebrating the end of a year. The fruit was then whisked away to the winery for final inspection and de-stemming. Sorting went into the afternoon hours. I chose to use 50% whole clusters with the Dijon 777 clone and I put the must into a 2-ton French Oak fermentor. The 114 was destemmed at a slightly higher rate of 90% and put into a stainless steel temperature controlled tank. This fruit will now soak on its skins to extract color and aromatic precursors for 3-10 days before being inoculated with a native yeast strain.
As usual the lunch was prepared by David Bergen of Tina’s Restaurant in Dundee . David has been cooking for our harvests since 2003 and is a great component of our harvest celebration. Today we had Beef stew with carrots and skillet fried potatoes toppeed with sour cream and a Chile Verde with plenty of Tina’s homemade bread to soak up the rich broth. It is important to stop during the day and rest and fill the belly with soul-food and breathe in the change happening around us. Fall is here and colors are appearing in the trees and in the vineyards and the sky is changing from a deep blue to a pale fading color.
The temperature soared today to what felt like 90 degrees but probably measured out at 85-87F. The 10 day forecast is beautiful with clear skies and temperatures in the mid to upper 70’s. So far this vintage is presenting itself to be a mixture of 2003 and 2001. Large crop with full cluster sizes like 2001 yet very ripe with high sugars and lower acids like 2003. The fruit we saw this morning was beautiful and the picking schedule is filling up quickly as fruit is ripening at a very fast pace now. 6 tons down…200+ to go.
I think that all harvest journal entries have historically begun by stating; “Is it already September?” Well, yes, it is already September and this year has once again flown by and we are busily preparing the winery to receive our first fruit sometime late next week. The machinery is being cleaned and barrels are being carefully prepared as we rack our last 2005 Pinot Noirs from their French Oak to tanks for bottling before the end of the year. This place will soon be as busy as it has ever been.
It has been a hot and dry summer to say the least. We have already surpassed 2003 in heat units and have seen over 20+ days where temperatures soared over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Flowering was efficient under ideal conditions in June so we are looking at one of the biggest crops since 2001. In some vineyards we have had to drop 84% of the crop just to arrive at a more reasonable 2.0 tons to the acre (rather than 12+ tons to the acre!) Ripening has been uneven in most vineyards forcing us to make several extra “green-thinning” passes to remove green clusters and in several cases, individual green berries from ripe clusters. This has been difficult, delicate and costly work but I feel that our countless hours in the vineyard this year will be rewarded with high quality Pinot Noir.
This year we will be working with several new vineyards: Durant Vineyard, Anderson Family Vineyard, Carabella Vineyard, Kalita Vineyard, Pelos Sandberg Vineyard, and Wool Blanket Vineyard (formerly Jacob Hart Vineyard.) These farmers and their management teams have been working diligently all year long to ensure the highest quality for Bergström Wines this fall and we are very excited to be working alongside them this year and into the future. As well, this year will also see familiar vineyards turn one year older. Our estate vineyards; Bergström Vineyard, de Lancellotti Vineyard and Bergström Winery Estate enter their 8 th and 6 th years respectively. Shea Vineyard, Nysa Vineyard, Hyland Vineyard, Cherry Grove Vineyard, La Collina Vineyard and Chehalem Mountain Vineyards all continue to produce strong wines of great character and have found a happy home at Bergström.
I look forward to sharing our experiences with you this harvest. Harvest is always a busy and stressful time where workdays blend into each other and fatigue wine-stained hands feel heavier with each passing hour. But harvest is also a time of great joy and tradition where a long year in the vineyard is brought to fruition (pardon the pun.) Many of my great winemaking memories revolve around happenings during harvest. I hope to share some of those with you as we begin.