Harvest underway at Resonance Vineyard. ##PHOTO BY ANDTEA JOHNSON

Sunshine daydream

This year’s harvest simply too good to be true

By Hilary Berg

If, indeed, karma exists, we, as a group, must have done something spectacular in our past lives to deserve this year’s wine grape harvest.

Around the state, wineries are reporting flavorful fruit with ideal sugars and spot-on acidity. The weather this harvest has also made it memorable. Here in the Willamette Valley, early rain was a welcome sight, settling the dust from an extremely dry summer, giving the grapes a final drink before picking. Beyond that small amount of precipitation, the days have been clear and the nights cool.

Editor's Note

Hilary Berg has been the editor of OWP since 2006. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in journalism. She and her husband own a seven-acre vineyard and winery called Roots.

Overall, crews in both the cellar and vineyard appear happy, albeit tired, this crush. Winemakers are also quite pleased.

On Sept. 25, in the southern Willamette Valley, Danuta Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Winery reported, “Harvest is lovely this year. The weather is warm, not hot, and the September rainstorms are holding back. We’re also winning the race against the migratory birds. Fruit set was heavy this year, so we dropped a lot of fruit to keep our tonnage at three tons per acre. The long, warm summer has brought us sweet fruit with well-balanced acids.” She ended her summation with “Pinot Noir is still king!” — the numbers don’t lie, Danuta; I agree.

Dick Shea of Shea Vineyards, in the northern part of the Willamette Valley, also delivered rave reviews. For his Newberg winery, picking fruit wrapped up Oct. 3. He commented, “The fruit quality seems wonderful. It was really ripe and yet the sugar level was not at all excessive. Ripe flavor also came on while the grapes still retained a high level of natural acidity. The berries were moderate in size, so the wines will have good concentration and intensity. The fruit was remarkably clean coming out of the vineyard.

“The only negative issue is the moderately light yield because of small berries and some dehydration at the end. Everything else seems on the positive side. The quality of the 2018s will be remarkably high.”

For Earl Jones of Abacela Winery in the Umpqua Valley, yields also appeared lighter — due to dropping fruit and smaller clusters — compared with the previous year. Unlike Shea, Jones was still harvesting as of Oct. 20. His thoughts thus far?

“Harvest has been really good, and a warm and dry October is super-appreciated.” As for the quality of the crop, he offered, “Excellent.”

Need I write anymore? I think not. If all goes as planned in the cellar, and karma continues to smile, the 2018s will, no doubt, be simply stellar.

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