Thankfully I don’t have bad news today! Actually the news is getting better all the time around here. I know, I know….you were looking for a sad synopsis on the worst vintage to hit Oregon in four decades with a ten day weather forecast bringing gloom and doom and locusts and apocalyptic brimstone etc…. but guess what? Things are actually looking pretty exciting for Oregon in 2010! (I drink a lot of coffee, so I am usually pretty excited.)
Beautiful weather has settled in over the Pacific Northwest and we are looking at a potentially long high-pressure system developing over our area which could ensure clear skies and nice daytime temperatures for the next 10 days or more. This is exactly what we needed and its timing could not be better.
We are experiencing one of the longest growing seasons of recent memory here in Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley. Vines buds began bursting way back in March only to be subjected to cold and wet conditions for most of the spring and unseasonably cool and wet weather for most of the summer. The vines are healthy and green, poised to ripen some serious crop! The only problem there is that there is very little crop to ripen. Most of our vineyard sites are sitting with less than 1.7 tons per acre and many of them are as low as 1.0 tons per acre. But this could bode well another very high-quality year here in Oregon as the canes are totally lignified, seeds are beginning to harden and woody and the skins are all colored up to a juvenile blue….all we need now is good weather, or at least not a lot of rain.
The last vintage that reminds me of what we are seeing right now is 1999. Some others might point to 1993 as well. Both vintages were long and cool and ended late. The wines upon release were tight and driven by bright acids, good structures and youthful fruit. Nowadays the wines from 1999 and 1993 are the shining stars of most collectors’ wine cellars. If you were lucky enough to have bought some of these wines and maybe even you saved some of those bottles for this long, you know what I am talking about.
But this vintage is far from over. Heck, it hasn’t even begun yet. By my calendar, we will look to maybe enter some of our younger vineyards by the 10th of October to begin our harvest. What happens from there is a mystery, but as always, I am cautiously optimistic.
In the meantime, we are putting together our final blends and racking the 2009 Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir to tank where it will sit patiently through harvest for its December bottling date. The 2009 wines are shaping up to be a lot of fun. They have dark colors, deep aromas of sweet berry pies, and mouth-filling sweetness and opulence that will beckon to be drunk upon release. We have already bottled the 2009 Chardonnays (Sigrid and Old Stones), which are truly stunning, as well as the 2009 Shea Vineyard, Temperance Hill Vineyard, Le Pre du Col and Winery Block Vineyard as well as the 2009 Old Stones Pinot Noir. All of these wines are unique and different and will be a real pleasure to drink upon their release. We have yet to rack the Bergstrom Vineyard and de Lancellotti Vineyard and will wait to do so until November. Overall the 2009 wines remind me a lot of the 2006 wines but with more fruit and more lifted aromas. They will be powerhouse wines for immediate consumption and the best of the vintage will age well and continue to develop in the bottle for 5-7 years, maybe more.
Check back soon, I am heading out to vineyards tomorrow and Wednesday to sample fruit and gather information and I look forward to sharing what I find with you all.