After two years of hot, sunny and arid harvests I was beginning to wonder where the Oregon of my youth had disappeared to? And today it came back in the form of low clouds a frustratingly indecisive mist that eventually made up its mind and turned into rain. And it felt good.
Now I know what you are thinking. “What?! Rain in the middle of harvest feels good!?” And you would be correct to punctuate that sentence with two question marks and again with two marks of exclamation as it sounds pretty stupid. But hear me out. Rain refreshes, knocks the dust off and gives plants that last little drink before their final push to ripen and ultimately dormancy. Rain can also bring cooler temperatures which we would appreciate right about now. It has been a warm and very dry year. Established trees are defoliating and showing signs of severe stress and even premature death. Birds and bees are turning to grapes for hydration as many local ponds have dried up. My lawn has been brown since May but, then again, that’s nothing new… I am the homeowner in the neighborhood who brings everybody’s real estate value down ten thousand dollars.
After making wine here in the Northern Willamette Valley, rain is something we are accustomed to. We don’t fear it, we respect it. And let’s be real here, we aren’t seeing a 2007 or 2013 deluge of rain, we are seeing some light sprinkles and passing showers. Labor day rain is like Rose Festival rain; we kind of count on it.
Once these showers pass through and remind us that pumpkin pie and Chanterelle season is not that far off, the sun will return and we will launch into the fields with scissors and buckets and the Pinot Noir harvest will be officially on. I doubt we will see fruit on vines in October this year but I may eat those words in a few weeks. I am known to jinx things. After all, I did mention the word rain 7 times in only 4 paragraphs.
Our early picked Pinot Noirs are behaving well and smell fantastic. It is so wonderful to smell fermentation again after a year without it. Chardonnay is coming in between showers and looks to be of very high quality this year.
This week will bring the end of our Chardonnay picking and much walking through vineyards and sampling to strategize for our next Pinot Noir picks. Most fruit is just hovering at around 21-22 degrees brix with good acidities but those won’t last for long. I feel that our big harvest push will come very soon.