Thursday October 7, 2010
Happy Harvest! Today we have kicked off our vintage here at Bergstrom with the first fruit from the Bergstrom Vineyard. Under sunny morning skies we hand-picked our Dijon clones from blocks one and two which are situated on the Eastern side of the vineyard and face due south on thin Jory soils. These blocks are always riper earlier than our other vines at the Bergstrom Vineyard and we historically have started many harvests with these parcels.
Driving through the darkness from Portland to wine-country, I reflected on 12 years worth of dark, chilly, caffeinated mornings when harvests were kicked off. I remember Caroline and I helping to hand-pick our first harvest in the early rains of 1999 and how we nurtured those small fermentation bins into our first wine. I remember when our family picked the very first grape clusters off of our estate vineyards in 2001 (Bergstrom Vineyard), 2003 (de Lancellotti Vineyard) and 2005 (The Winery Block) and what pride we had as we filled our buckets with the literal fruit of years of hard work and investment. Each year has brought new and different concerns at harvest time and yet each year has been so uniquely wonderful that I can only be thankful for the diversity of conditions here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley which have enriched my professional career.
And then I thought about how exciting this vintage is going to be. This year we are harvesting our first fruit from a new estate vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, and although the vineyard is yet to be officially named, we are very excited to introduce you to the wines as they evolve. We also have a new face around the winery; Travis Bonilla, my new cellar assistant. Travis is a Reed College graduate who with some good Oregon harvest experience and wine education under his belt is eager to get his feet and teeth purple this year at Bergstrom and I have a feeling that he will be a great addition to our team.
After having walked through our vineyards over the past few days, we have seen an increase in sugars and a surprising shift downward in our acids (strange for such a cool year) but what is most exciting is the incredible amount of flavor development that we have gained in the past few weeks. The skins and seeds of our fruit have also picked up considerable momentum in their physiological ripening cycle and we are starting to see really good color in our juice samples which is a good sign of fruit maturity. The forecast at this point is for passing rain this weekend and then, if you believe the models and our power to predict weather two weeks out, we are expecting a good period of dryness and sunshine from the 10th until the 20th of October. In the meantime, we will quickly de-stem what we have picked today and put it into tanks and cold-soak bins while we focus on staying dry over the weekend. So, like us, many wineries across the valley are probably kicking off their harvest in a small way today or tomorrow but will really kick it into gear next week as we approach the midway point of the month.
Cross your fingers, do your “no-rain” dances and stay optimistic. The future looks bright.