Category Archives: Harvest 2007
Well another year is drawing to an end. The fields are all empty of fruit and the winter rains have now started to show up. Snow is falling in the Cascades and we are gearing up for the Thanksgiving weekend open house.
It is a wonderful feeling to look at a cellar full of new wine. The cellar still smells of primary fermentation aromas which are similar to aromas of candy and fresh fruit and flowers. The barrels are almost all filled. Only a few tanks need to be emptied. The Rieslings and Chardonnays are bubbling away madly and add their lifted floral and citrus aromas to the room. A fruit fly floats by almost like it’s staggering.
We’re all happy, even the fruit fly. Another year is done and now the fun begins; watching each cuvee develop over time to become the wine that will be pourred at family celebrations and in great restaurants and at wine festivals throughout the summer months. I feel good about the work we have accomplished.
The 2007 Pinot Noirs are dark as ink and extremely fragrant with fresh fruit and spice notes already. They will be structured and dense and will need time to develop but I think they could be some very fine wines. Funny how that happens, the rains make you wait and wait and before you know it, you realize that the sun may never come back again, so you have to harvest and what you find is that the fruit has hung on the vine for so long that the physiological maturity is extraordinary and the berries, although lacking sugar, are delicious and ripe and ready to make another unique vintage. I would say that this vintage reminds me of something similiar to 2005 or 1993 with more muscle.
People are already lining up to pan this vintage in Oregon because of the rains we had. But isn’t that why we are here making wine in Oregon? We’re here because the weather is unpredictable and it does rain and even sometimes it’s too hot. And sometimes the vines get get attacked by vicious mildew pressure or voles or birds or deer and sometimes wind storms destroy canes and frosts freeze buds and hail ruins leaves… yet sometimes there are winemakers in this world who love a good challenge. We love vintages that are not decided by how much we irrigate vines in the desert heat. We love vintages that taste and age differently because that is what makes Pinot Noir greater than any other red varietal on earth: it’s ability to shine in the most adverse of conditions.
No, 2007 will not go down as the greatest vintage Oregon has ever seen. But it sure will remind all of us who make wine here why we love doing what we do and why we are here doing it. Come taste the wines and wee what I mean.
Thanks to all of my crew and family for another hard year’s work. Now it’s time to celebrate.
See you around the winery sometime soon.
We returned from New York City to beautiful blue skies in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The colors in the trees and vines is simply amazing right now. The air is crisp and the mornings are frosty. The pumpkins we carved for halloween are looking a little scarrier now due to the wide array of molds growing on them. I can’t believe it’s November and we still have fruit hanging.
Bergstrom Wines brought in the last of our Pinot Noir on Tuesday October 29th! Old vine Pommard and Wadenswil from Hyland Vineyard. This vineyard has always benefited from hanging longer than others and I wasn’t quite sure when the rains began if we would ever even harvest this fruit this year. It came in looking a little ragged around the edges and we had to sort out a fair amount of clusters for botrytis but the sound fruit was amazingly sweet and ripe. I couldn’t believe the lab report; Brix of 24.5, PH of 3.35…perfect! no, Astonishing!! After more than a month of rain ( over 7 inches total) and cool weather, this fruit had improved dramatically and might even shine as one of the better wines of the vintage if all goes well in the fermentation.
Riesling begaon to come in soon after that and looked good. There was, of course, much botrytis to sort through but a little of the noble rot can benefit high-acid Rieslings. The Dr. Bergstrom Riesling program looks very promising this year. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, we are expecting our last fruit of the year tomorrow morning: old vine Riesling from Chehalem Mountain Vineyard. Very exciting. Probably the latest we have ever harvested fruit here at Bergstrom.
There are still 16 fermentations going on in the winery (and two cold soaks) as I write this. We have filled over 400 barrels of Pinot Noir so far and have more than 85 Chardonnay barrels peacefully bubbling away/ We are far from being close to packing up and saying goodbye for the winter. In-fact Im betting on pressing out our last tank just prior to the Thanksgiving open house weekend if all goes as expected. And I haven’t even touched on the 400 tons of compost that we need to build before it starts snowing!
I’m off to Florida on Monday for a sales trip. Maybe the sunshine and ocean breezes will help me decide where in the world I’m going to put all of that cow manure.
Drastic change from the Willamette Valley’s sunny skies and golden-leaved vineyards, we are in New York City under (once again) rainy skies. We have come to this great city for Wine Spectator’s bi-annual New York Wine Experience located in the heart of New York’s Times Square which we are so proud to be part of.
Pouring wine along with Angelo Gaja, Chateau Margaux, Latour, Beaucastel, Guigal, Dom Perignon, Penfolds and others is thrilling. Seeing friends who I have met over the past few years out on the road selling wine is also a lot of fun: Siduri, Loring, Kosta Browne, Chateau Palmer Elderton and others. We are also here pouring alongside many of our good friends from Oregon who were also invited: Beaux Freres, Domaine Serene, Archery Summmit, Ponzi, Argle and Domaine Drouhin. What a great event!
What I really wanted to share with you was the highlight of this trip: a dinner at Per Se Restaurant (owned by Thomas Keller of the French Laundry.) We ate there on the night that we arrived from Oregon and what an experience it was! After a glass of Champagne in the comfortable lounge area we were seated at an amazing table looking out on Columbus Circle with the lit up fountain and Central park as the backdrop. The restaurant informed us that we did not need to order off the menu as the chef was going to prepare a special meal for us.
I had heard great things about Per Se and I must say that our expectations were very high going into this evening. What I wasn’t expecting was that we were about to have our minds and culinary expectations totally blown out of the water by what was by far the greatest dining experience of our lives! We enjoyed over 15 courses that night with highlights such as:
A “Sapayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Iranian Sevruga Caviar
White Truffle infused custard with a “Ragout” of Black Winter Truffles served in an egg-shell.
Risotto with copioius amounts of hand shaved white truffle flown over from Alba Italy
Butter poached Nova Scotia Lobster tail with melted leeks, “Pommes Maxim’s” and red beet essense.
Sauteed Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras with flowering Quince marmalade, confit of chestnuts, spiced shortbread and Roquette leaves with Saporoso Vinaigrette.
The meal was simply divine and redefined for me what a great dining experience can be about. The service was impeccable, the quality of the food was absolutely top notch, the environment was gorgeous and the wine list and wine services was absolutely the best I’ve seen. Bravo!
We were full until about 4pm the next day when we went to a little kosher deli down the street and had a burger and fries…wow, what a let down that burger was.
Well, one more night of pouring our wines and then we are off to Oregon to harvest the last of our Riesling which is currently enjoying a week of beautiful sunny skies with cool nights. Take Care!
It always happens. Fruit starts coming in, fermentors start to bubble and barrels need to be filled with new wine and before you know it, more than a week has passed since my last journal entry.
All is well at Bergstrom Wines. The rain stopped for a four day period last week which allowed us to harvest over 70 tons of Pinot Noir from many different sites. Most of it looked very promising. Some of it did not. All of our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is in now. We are now waiting for the Riesling and it looks like we are going to get more than 7 days of beautiful weather starting tomorrow which should allow for a fantastic Riesling harvest! The highlight was some beautiful late hanging Pommard at the Shea Vineyard which only got better with the rains and cool weather. The low point was some Chardonnay that only hit 18 degrees brix but had to be harvested due to encroaching botrytis bunch rot. With the good comes the bad I guess. But surprisingly this year, there is less bad than we feared.
Early on in the harvest, I believed the worst possible outcome was on hand. Let’s face it, it didn’t look good for a while there. But you know what? The fruit is surprisingly nice. Flavors picked up and acids came down. The fermentations look and small very healthy and, actually, intensely fruity!
The wines that we are bleeding off from the first fermenations are incredibly dark and rich with beautiful aromas and lovely structure. The acids are high and the alcohols are low while the wines are flirting between lush and lithe. This could turn out to be very interesting.
The crew is weary. We are really only at halftime now. Today I counted over 65 cold soaks in the winery and only 12 active fermentations. The early harvested fruit is now pressed off and being put into barrels but that only accounts for 118 barrels out of the total 450 barrels that we will fill this year.
My next entry will probably be from New York City as we are leaving on Tuesday for our bi-annual pilgrimmage to the Wine Spectator’s New York Experience for 3 days. Stay tuned. This could get hairy.
This afternoon, for the first time in what seems like weeks (wait a minute…it has been weeks) the clouds have parted and the sun is out in full force. Four days of nice weather are predicted. The colors in the trees and fields are gorgeous. The sky has a lighter shade of blue than when we last saw it. Where did fall go?
For the past 10 days we have been dilligently harvesting between rainstorms and walking through countless rows tasting berries looking for those elusive flavors that we love so much in Oregon Pinot Noirs. For a while there we didn’t know if we were sad or actually suffering from S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) The harvest had a strange feeling to it, slow, lacking energy, gloomy. But then I remembered something…no, it wasn’t the sign at the local pharmacy advertising antidepressants at 2 for the price of 1! It was this: It isn’t about the rain, nor is it about the sunshine. It is about the flavors! And the flavors are coming on strong!
Surprisingly, we still have more than 40% of our harvest to go. I have decided to let most of the older vines’ fruit sit through the rains in hopes that they would develop better flavors. And you know what? They did!
Throughout 15 days of heavy rain, light rain, sideways rain and as Forrest Gump once said “big old fat rain” our Pinot Noir has actually progressed. We have moved away from herbal aromas and flavors, through the green banana stage and even through the simple red candy character of just barely ripe fruit to a very nice level of physiological ripeness where the berries have good acids and mouthwatering flavors of cherry and strawberry and cassis and even some red plum. Now is the time to pick! We have four days of nice dry weather ahead and we are attacking with gusto!
Armed with bellies full of warm food and enough caffeine in our veins to kill a herd of small oxen, we are off to finish this harvest in a strong way! Wish us luck.
Since Thursday it has rained close to 2 inches in the Northern Willamette Valley. Sunshine is not in the forecast. Close to 2 more inches are predicted for the next 24 hours. This is it. Here we go.
In my conversations with winemakers from around the valley and with vineyard managers of other fields than our own I have heard much talk comparing this vintage to 2005 (if it stops raining soon) or 1997 (if it keeps raining). Most winemakers who have been around the block are not worried. In other parts of the valley, trucks are rapidly hauling large amounts of fruit from fields to wineries.
This is when each individual winemaker’s experience, philosophy and nerve come into play. Whatever decisions are made now will permanently affect quality. Do we pick at the cost of potential future development or an unseen break in the rain? Do we wait and risk dilution and rot from the 2-3 more rain events forecasted in the next 15 days? Do we really trust the weatherman? Do we have any more cold beer?
Here, at Bergstrom, we have harvested almost 70 tons of fruit from a predicted total of 250 tons. The fruit that has been processed so far looks promising and I think the wines will be delightful. There are, however, many vineyards’ crops sitting in the rain and not progressing. Some vineyards may not get picked by our team this year. It all depends on the weather and the disease pressure (botrytis) at this point and in the days to come.
Cold and damp days like this allow our crew to get together in the warmth of our office where we can enjoy warm home cooked meals and conversations over a glass of wine. Everybody is tired and wet and muddy. But harvest has only just begun. There are many late nights and long days to come.
Today is a small reprieve from the storms and we are picking our Wadenswil block at Shea Vineyard and our 115 Pinot Noir from Bergstrom Vineyard. The picking schedule for the next five days is clear. Nothing schedule yet. I’d like to wait and see what happens.
It is a cold and foggy morning. Picking crews are busy all around the valley trying to bring in more Pinot Noir before the predicted rains tonight and tomorrow. We had our first heavy showers on Thursday night and picking on Friday was muddy and cold. The positive side is that the temperatures are cool and the grapes are holding up. This is what “cool climates” really look like.
Overall the fruit looks to be in fine condition. We have seen no signs of botrytis or deteriorating fruit from the long season we have had which is a great sign, especially considering that the 10-day forecast is for more rain showers. At this point it is either a waiting game for potential dry conditions in October, or a scramble to bring the fruit in before too much rain falls. The good news is that we have had over 110 days of hangtime in most vineyards which puts us ahead of 2005 in physiological ripeness. Seeds are brown, colors are bleeding rapidly from the skins and flavor profiles are beginning to get interesting in most precocious sites. The old vines still have a ways to go.
Yesterday we picked the Oak Block at Shea Vineyard. The fruit looked and tasted great! I particularly like Shea Vineyard in cooler vintages such as this one. The higher acids and lower alcohols can make for very intense wines.
We also harvested from Cherry Grove Vineyard which is very unique site out near Gaston in the foothills to the beginnings of the Coastal Range. Both the 777 and Pommard blocks looked very nice in good sound condition. Early on in the day we harvested our youngest block from the Durant Vineyard in Dundee. That fruit looks to be of good quality as well.
Today we will begin to harvest the de Lancellotti Vineyard, more of the Bergstrom Vineyard and our second of 5 blocks at Shea, as well as the Gran Morraine Vineyard in Carlton. Then we will wait and see what kind of storm system comes in and how much actual precipitation we get. At this point I do not think that we will get the kind of sunshine that builds sugars anymore. We will just try to push the envelope on hangtime to build more physiological ripeness and flavor development.
Welcome to the Bergstrom Winery Harvest Journal for 2007! Here you will get to read my thoughts on the harvest and the vintage year as it unfolds on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. This is a fun opportunity for me to share with you what we go through as wine is made during the tumultuous, stressful and exciting days of October and November. Harvest is a wonderful experience, filled with great meals, hard work, long days and late nights, camaraderie, and lots of bubbling tanks of fruit and juice. Soon we will know how an entire year’s worth of hard work will end up.
First some thoughts on the 2007 season so far. I think it is fair to say that the 2007 farming season has been one of the toughest in recent years. A good flowering brought on another abundant crop, much like in 2006, which meant that we were very busy in the fields trying to drop green fruit clusters to get our yeilds down from the natural yield of 5-6 tons to the acre to a more reasonable and quality-driven 1.6-2.5 tons to the acre in each of the 17 fields we harvest grapes from.
This year saw some of the strangest weather patterns that I can remember and really reminded everyone who farms here that we do indeed live and work in a “cool climate”. Late July and all of August saw below average precipitation and temperatures with several weeks of cool and cloudy conditions. August did not see more than 3 days in a row with temperatures that hit or peaked over 80 Farenheit. Relative Humidity was higher than normal from May until August which made for one of the worst years in recent history for mildew infection in vineyards. Our team had to work harder than ever to keep our fruit clean and out of harm’s way.
And now that we have worked so hard to get to where we are, we are experiencing a very late year with cool temperatures and the threat of heavy rainfall. Most vineyards are just on the verge of ripeness. Some vineyards have developed good fruit flavors with very ripe seeds and skins and stands to make some interesting wines. Other vineyards still have green and pink berries in the clusters and the juices taste more like green bananas than Pinot Noir. Some vineyards need at least 2 more weeks of hangtime to get sufficient physiological ripeness to balance the lower than normal sugars.
On Tuesday we harvested our first fruit of the year; ripe Pinot Noir from the Bergstrom Vineyard (Dijon clones on Riparia Gloire ruitstock from blocks 1 and 2.) It looks to be of very high quality and is currently cold soaking in three French oak tanks and one stainless steel fermenter. We also harvested some young vine Chardonnay from the Carlton are that looks to be very high quality as well.
What will Mother Nature give us this year? Stay tuned. Tomorrow we start 5 long days of harvesting under threatening skies.