Category Archives: Harvest 2009
Today is a cold and rainy November 9th….my oldest son’s birthday! And while we celebrate with cake and festivities (and a new hamster….yikes!) we are also finishing the last work at the winery that will finally put the 2009 vintage into the history books.
Our final fruit to be harvested was Riesling from the Hyland Vineyard. It was pressed about a week ago and put into barrels to slowly ferment over the next several months.
Our last Pinot Noir fermentations are finished today and we are pressing those and putting the fresh wine into tanks to settle and the wine will be taken to barrels over the next three to four days.
The barrel cellar is full. Probably the most full it has ever been, with towering stacks of barrels freshly stained with sweet dark fresh Pinot Noir. The Chardonnays are all still slowly fermenting on the other side of the winery where the temperatures are still cold enough to ensure that none of these wines will be finished with their primary or secondary fermentations until next spring.
2009 in retrospect was a long harvest with several chapters. The harvest began early as we scrambled to deal with the heat and dehydration of our youngest vineyards This small percentage of our harvest has yielded pleasant wines with dark color and low acidity which will make for early drinking wine. As time progressed, the cold weather returned and blue skies remained, giving way to a longer hang-time under more ideal conditions for our older vines. These wines are incredibly dark and intense with vibrant aromas and flavors and good acidity. Our oldest parcels were harvested in the final days prior to the big rains that came at the end of October and these wines have tremendous potential to be some of the finest wines that we have ever crafted at Bergstrom! Wow.
Our Chardonnay program grew by leaps and bounds this year with our first ever estate harvest from the winery estate block and several smaller blocks in the de Lancellotti Vineyard. These wines are all still fermenting but the quality looked to be very good to excellent.
My team worked very hard this year and I am proud of everyone’s efforts and thankful for their support. My dad did not miss a day of work over a forty-five day work period, leading the charge as he has his whole life..At 73 years old he is still a Swedish work-horse!! Jorge and Rodolfo and their team worked tirelessly as they always do, never asking for anything other than “how can I help?” Are there really still people out there who are just happy to be working towards a common goal? I am proud to say that there are and glad to have them on our team. And this year we had a new face at the winery; Cory came to Bergstrom from several years of working with Tony Soter at Etude and Soter and he was a very hard worker and a pleasure to have around.
Bergstrom Wines are a team effort and every bottle that you drink from Bergstrom represents over 1,000 days of our lives. We spend one year farming a wine, one year or more making a wine and one year or more taking that wine to the marketplace. There are a lot of faces and names behind our product who may not end up on the pages of Wine Spectator or quoted in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, but believe me, they are here, family and staff, every day working tirelessly to help bring our vision to bottle. And I thank them all for another great year!
After 7 long days of picking frantically, we are finally finished harvesting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Now only Riesling remains in the field. The team has worked tirelessly for three weeks straight now and everyone is tired and feeling good about the work that has been done so far. But only the picking is finished. The 2009 vintage has yet to be written into the books as good, bad or other as most of the wine is still in juice form, either cold soaking or fermenting.
The sorting crew has now left for the year and some of the picking crew we will not see again until pruning time. We are now just 10 people working in the winery to finalize the fermentations, do punch downs, press out wines etc… There were two great feasts in a row on Thursday and Friday to say thank you to the men and women who have helped pick and sort fruit for the past three weeks.
After a long, hot and dry summer, the 2009 vintage finished up with very typical Oregon fall weather. We enjoyed a week and a half of cooler weather with sunny days and cold nights which helped to build flavors in the berries, lignify the stems and seeds and preserve the acidity levels. The old vines from Temperance Hill and Hyland Vineyards yielded delicious fruit with a crisp snap of flavor. The last pickings off of the Bergstrom and de Lancellotti estate vineyards were spectacular, some of the best we have seen to date.
We have crafted two “whole cluster wines” this year which means that we may release the first “whole cluster selection” since the 2006 vintage. There was no “whole cluster selection” released in 2007 and none will be released from the 2008 vintage. Early tastes make me think that these will be great wines.
Also exciting this year is the fact that we have Arcus Vineyard fruit at Bergstrom for the first time since 2003. Many of you remember the early Arcus bottlings that we fashioned between 2000 and 2003 as some of our most impressive bottlings. We will keep you posted on this one!
We have also invested more commitment, time and finances into more fruit from the Temperance Hill Vineyard. We have helped the Temperance Hill team to plant 2.5 acres which will be farmed exclusively for Bergstrom and we have added to our existing one acre of fruit by contracting 4 acres of old-vine Pinot Noir from the “Short Rows” block which sits high atop the hill in an ancient volcanic caldera. This is a very exciting development and the 2009 vintage looks to be a great year to introduce you to more of this wine from Bergstrom’s cellars.
While the business of picking is now over, we now need to focus on making sure that our fermentations go the right way. This is the most crucial time for winemaking as whatever we decide now will seriously alter (for better or worse) the path of the wine that we are making. It is important to be dilligent and exact in how we operate to ensure that the fermentations proceed without problems. It is an exciting time but also fatiguing and sometimes very drawn out period that can take a month or more to finalize.
Stay tuned for more. We have Riesling on the way, a small crop of Sauvignon Blanc this year and the “Dr. Bergstrom Gewurztraminer” looks to be tempting….
I know that technically it is already Fall. That is what the calendar says. But right now it feels like the dog-days of Summer. The mornings are cold but clear. The sunrise is amazing. Usually we only glimpse the sunrise if we are lucky enough to be on our way to the airport for an early flight, or the baby couldn’t sleep or we are stuck in traffic on the way to an early job. But when you take the time to pause and look at the event itself as it happens, it is quite breathtaking.
We have been lucky enough this harvest to see several inspiring sunrises. The Willamette Valley is usually drenched with fog and the Douglass Fir trees poke up through the mist like ships at sea.
The days right now though are warm; in the low 70′s. And it feels like summer is still with us.
We have harvested all of the Bergstrom Vineyard and the fruit was magnificent. We enter the de Lancellotti Vineyard on Saturday and Monday to hand-harvest the remaining fruit off of 12 acres and it looks very very promising.
Shea Vineyard still has the Pommard and Dijon-828 blocks to pick which will happen on Monday. Hyland, Temperance Hill and Nysa are still hanging fruit and will probably hang through the next rain event to further build their flavors. No Riesling has entered the building although we are almost finished with our Chardonnay. Anderson Family Vineyard Chardonnay came in yesterday and looked and tasted absolutely gorgeous.
It is early on the morning of October 7th. We have now harvested just over one hundred tons of fruit from most of our vineyards. What remains to be picked is roughly half of the Bergstrom Vineyard, half of de Lancellotti Vineyard, half of the Shea Vineyard and most of our old vines from Temperance Hill and Hyland as well as some key Chardonnay blocks from Carabella and Wren.
We have definitely seen another example of how Oregon Pinot Noir vintages have become more and more a tale of two vintages. For example….This year we saw big summer heat which really dehydrated and stressed out the younger vines. These vineyards needed to be harvested early because the fruit was shriveling up rapidly. The sugars were sky-high and acids were fairly low for our taste. These wines which were harvested in the third week of September will make robust, round fleshy wines with higher alcohol levels much like 2003 and 2006 vintage wines. The vineyards that remain to be picked, however, have benefitted from cooler weather and will definitely yield wines of a different nature, almost as if they were wines from a different vintage. These older vines have been able to withstand the heat and make it into the cooler part of our Pacific Northwest Autumn and are holding on to their acidities while they build tremendous flavors. This is definitely an exciting vintage!
Today we are going back into the Bergstrom Vineyard to pick the Pommard block, our best block of fruit. We picked our high-density blocks and the Dijon-115 block at Bergstrom yesterday and we will let the surly old Wadenswil block hang a little longer as it usually benefits from the longest hang-time possible.
The mornings right now are breathtaking. The sunrises are vivid orange and pink and the waning moon (almost full) is still high in the sky as the sun comes up. The colors are exploding across the valley in trees and shrubs and meadows. This is why we live here. I was joking yesterday with Paul de Lancellotti that this is the time when we need to take mental images and save them so that we can upload them in January as mental screen-savers when the weather is gloomy and wet and cold.
The mood at the winery is good. People are tired from long days but we are working hard towards a common goal and having fun doing so.
Talk to you soon!
One month ago it looked as if this vintage would be an “off to the races” type of a year. We had experienced so much heat and sunshine that an early and uber-ripe vintage just seemed inevitable. I am not a big fan of those types of years as the wines tend to show more alcoholic prowess rather than complex flavors. Sure, they have their place….and they are fun to drink young. I prefer the slower vintages that take time and build flavor and complexities through several weather events.
It’s a tortoise and the hare type of a scenario but there is really no real clear winner, only a different outcome. The hot and fast vintages for Oregon Pinot Noir usually make wines that will also drink fast and age fast. These are hedonistic fruit-driven wines that should be drunk fairly quickly (2003 and 2006 come to mind.) The slower vintages that creep along into October and even towards November tend to give slower wines….or wines that take a while to come around and will drink/age well for a long time. 2007 and 2005 come to mind. These are my favorite and oddly enough, 2009 is beginning to show some promise of slowing down.
In a strange turn of events, the hottest year on record which gave us over 25 days above 90 degrees fahrenheit and dehydrating East winds, has now cooled down and we are settling in to a fifteen day trend which is much more familiar for our area. We are expecting some showers now and some cool daytime temperatures in the mid to high 60′s as well as very cold over-night lows into the 40′s. The sugars in the vineyard have stopped spiking and now perhaps we can have some positive hangtime where these high sugared grapes can begin to build some complexities and deep flavors.
We have harvested roughly 20% of our harvest so far. I have no picking scheduled for the next five days. We have harvested the youngest vines which have come in very ripe and surprisingly rich. Unlike 2003, these wines have better structure and more integrity. These first picks remind me of 2006 for sure. But looking to the fields where we have the majority of our estate fruit still hanging and all of our older vines still hanging, sugars are great, acidities are hanging in there and flavors are really starting to come on. With the extended forecast calling for cool and slow, we may be in store for a very special kind of a year here.
Well, we have finally finished bottling this week’s run of 2008 Cumberland Reserve and Old Stones Chardonnay and we even brought a little bit of fruit into the winery. We have never multi-tasked as well as we have this week. The tasting room was busy as ever, we had to bottle five days in a row and the winery harvested pinot noir and chardonnay from three different vineyards.
The young vine Chardonnay from the winery estate was definitely ready and so it was harvested early in the morning on Tuesday and sorted, pressed and settled. We took the juice to barrel yesterday and are cultivating our native yeast strain for inoculation this weekend.
The young vines from Durant and de Lancellotti are still cold-soaking and we decided to bring in the Ty’s block of the de Lancellotti Vineyard as its ripeness was pushing the envelope and started tasting really good.
The weather is still warm and clear and we officially broke the record for the hottest year in Oregon history on Monday and Tuesday with temperatures back in the upper 90′s. This year has been so strange. Hot and strange.
The fruit in most vineyards is showing extreme signs of dehydration and heat stress. But the flavors are oddly-enough not yet ready. The grapes still need a few days to concentrate flavors in spite of the fact that they appear to be “overly” concentrated already. Acids remain honest and I think that if we get the weather that is forecasted, we are in for some pretty luxurious tasting wines from the 2009 vintage.
Tomorrow we will harvest the Pre du Col Vineyard on the Ribbon Ridge and then we launch into Shea and Bergstrom and de Lancellotti Pinot Noirs this week as well as the second half of our estate Chardonnay harvest. Only 12 tons have been harvested so far and a whopping 250 remain in the fields waiting the right day. I have a feeling it is going to be a very busy couple of weeks.
Today, after 9 months of farming, the harvest has begun. After months of mud, days of wildflowers, heavy rain, hot hot heat, and everything in-between, we are completing the circle. I know I’ve said it before (sometimes even in April, June and January)….this is my favorite time of the year.
This morning, under beautiful sunny skies, our farming team gathered at the young block outside of the winery and we talked about the year. Buckets and picking shears in hand. Nervous anticipation. We reflected upon the countless days of hard work that we had seen up until this point. Now was the time to complete a year’s worth of work towards quality with careful picking.
We picked two of our youngest blocks in de Lancellotti Vineyard and the Winery block. Usually, we would hope to push harvest into October for these sites but as many of you already know, this has been Oregon’s hottest year on record. The young vines are beginning to show the signs of the stress and dehydration with yellowing leaves and shriveling fruit. So today we brought in a small 4 tons of fruit…only the tip of the iceberg so to speak.
But the beginning of harvest in any way shape or form is a celebration. And the winery was a jovial place to be today. The tasting room was busy all day with people from near and far. A group from America and Bordeaux was enjoying an epicurean dining/tasting experience inside of the barrel cellar and the harvest-deck was busy with fruit, workers, bees and ladybugs. Needless to say, champagne was opened and toasts were made. It is definitely a happy time.
From here we will see little harvest activity for the next 7 days, as we are planning on bottling the 2008 wines next week. The weather forecast looks outstanding with some heat in the early part of next week and then dry and warm towards the end of next week. The Older vines in the valley still need a week or two to build sugars and drop acids.
Here are some pictures from today to enjoy. Maybe we’ll see you around the winery during the next few days. If not, you can always rely on an update here every few days as it all unfolds.
Today is Sunday September 13th.
We are only days away it seems from the beginning of harvest 2009. The youngest vines in the valley are beginning to show signs of good ripeness as the older vines continue on their slow but steady path towards a later harvest.
We have had a really hot summer here. Meteorologists say the hottest in Oregon’s history! We have had several weeks worth of days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit since the springtime. But with the extremely wet winter and spring that we saw this year, the water reserves in the soil were perfect for a lush growing season. The vines have tall and green canopies so they are ready to photosynthesize sunlight into sugar at a furious pace.
Now it is just a matter of time and seeing what nature brings us. We have worked hard all year long to ensure that the crop is perfect and the vines are happy. Now we start cleaning tanks and barrels and bottling some of the 2008 wines.
Aaah! the 2008 wines. I am glad you mentioned those… What a vintage 2008 has become. Both the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir wines are stunning, simply amazing with gorgeous acidities, great color, lush/full-bodied textures with good tannin. These are wines for the hedonist in all of us. I am very excited to see what these wines will do in the cellar. But what is even more exciting is that they will be delicious also upon release.
We are bottling the 2008 Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2008 Old Stones Chardonnay this next week alongside our “Futures” offerings: the Hyland Vineyard and Temperance Hill Vineyard. All delicious wines with bright futures ahead of them. The estate Pinot Noirs and Sigrid will enjoy another 3-4 months in barrels before being racked to tank after harvest and bottled in the spring of 2010.
The phenomenon so far in 2009 has been heavy crop. We have had to pass through the vineyards three times since fruit set to reduce the crop to acceptable levels. Much like 2006, these clusters are jam packed with berries and they weigh considerably more than in most years. This means that we are having to reduce crop yields on plants to way below one cluster per shoot which is the norm in our vineyards.
The big news around the winery this year is that this will be our first year for an estate harvest of Chardonnay! We have 2.5 acres of Chardonnay at the winery and 3 acres in de Lancellotti Vineyard that will be harvested for the Sigrid program and we are thrilled at the quality of the fruit. We have planted chardonnay in the sandiest south-facing slopes where the soil is almost white and I believe that these hillside blocks will yield some amazing wines.
Stay tuned, in the next few days I will begin to walk through all of our vineyard sites to take some initial measurements and flavor assessments to see how far away harvest really is.
Stay tuned……..Harvest is coming.