Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hens and Chicks In Oregon, Sept 2010

hens and chicks, Evesham Wood, Sept 2010I snapped the photo at right two and a half weeks ago at Evesham Wood's dry-farmed home vineyard, Le Puits Sec. Flowering was extremely late in the Willamette Valley this year thanks to a very cool late spring and the cool conditions of summer further contributed to uneven ripening (see all them green grapes?) and the old "hens and chicks" phenomenon, wherein tiny, undeveloped berries are bunched together with normal-sized berries. I saw this in every WV vineyard I laid eyes on in mid-September.

Still, things might — just might — turn out very nicely this year in Oregon. Lots of folks dropped fruit to direct ripening energy to the remaining grapes. To paraphrase Erin Nuccio of Evesham Wood, "It's like watching money fall to the floor," but that's life at the edge of ripening, and Erin, for one, prefers the cooler vintages that result in lower alcohols and greater nuance. His hope (mine, too) is that the remaining grapes are not just fully developed but show the complexity that can result from a long, cool growing season. Conscientious wineries could, with rigorous selection at the sorting table, turn out very good wines. I'm no winemaker but I don't think this vintage will be as easy on winemakers as was 2008.

Some WV wineries began harvesting last weekend, thanks in part to the modestly warm and gentle weather of the last two weeks. Others are waiting in hopes that the weather holds, meaning not that brix levels will shoot up — it's too cool for that — but that the rain holds off. We'll see: the forecast calls for nice weather over the next two days, then some rain after that. Migrating birds need to cooperate as well.

No comments: