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!