After perhaps one of the most challenging growing seasons in recent memory, harvest has snuck up on us again! We’re entering our vineyards one last time before the big rains, picking shears in hand, to bring a year’s work to fruition.
The 2004 vintage has been a year of extremes. We experienced a cold winter with snow and a 3-day ice storm which left 1-2 inches of ice on all the vines. The spring was marked by extremely hot days in March, which is rare if not unheard of in Oregon, with daytime temperatures reaching into the nineties. At budburst we saw some shoots that were far shorter than others due to nitrogen problems and mites feeding on the foliage. Around flowering, temperatures dropped and the vines’ circulatory systems were inundated with unusable nitrogen, causing them to begin aborting flower clusters. This phenomanon mixed with poor weather and a very long set left us with a small crop. In many areas we had a potential for 0.5 tons per acre only.
We were then blessed with a hot, dry summer which blazed with over 20 days peaking at 95+ degrees in the vineyard. It looked like harvest would be 2-3 weeks early with the small crop. But in late August we experienced 2-3″ of very unseasonable rains. Suddenly our hot, dry summer became the second wettest August since 1967! The soggy soils meant that the vines would soak up excessive moisture, and with this feeding came thousands of small berries which started bursting, leaving entire clusters succeptible to mold growth.
And then, as if the vintage seemed to be the greatest of our worries in life, the Oregon wine industry suffered a terrible loss: Jimi Brooks, one of our native sons, a bright star and a close friend, died suddenly at the age of 38 of a heart attack. He will be missed greatly…
Now it is the ninth of September and ideally harvest would be 2 weeks off, but the skies are once again threatening rain, so we have begun harvesting the younger vines which may not be able to hold on to their small fragile crop.
Today we picked Shea block 5, but we’ll wait to pick the Oak block until after the rains. Tomorrow we will pick the younger vines in the Bergström Vineyard whose sugars are very hight but whose skins are thin on the berries– I worry about botrytis setting in.
The exciting thing for me about Pinot Noir is the variation in vintage character. As pinot noir is the perfect vehicle to taste the differences in soil, so to is it the perfect vehicle to taste and remember certain years. I am excited to taste and experience the wines from such a melancholic year full of ups and downs. We hope you will joun us as we delve into our sixth vintage at Bergstrom Wines.
9/9/2004 – Fair