From the Winery

Short Summary of 2012 R.Stuart & Co. Oregon Harvest

November 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

I (Maria) asked Rob for a couple of sentences summing up this year’s harvest. This is what he sent in return. I thought you might enjoy reading it, unedited and unvarnished…

We approached this harvest with having the driest summer in 71 years.  By early September we could see that if we did not get rain, the likelihood of high brix (sugar), high acid, low pH, and underdeveloped flavors had great potential.  I was secretly praying for rain since Labor Day. By October 1 it seemed even more potentially dire.

BUT… I have said this before and I will always say this (I am soooo profound!) that in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley, we know two things:  1) It eventually will rain; 2)  and it will eventually stop raining.  It’s a mantra for me each harvest.  So the truth is that if the vineyards are managed well (canopy, nutrition, balance, spray program be it Sustainable or Biodynamic) , generally I don’t sweat it.  The trick is to not freak out when the brix are high and the flavors are not there.  I learned this while working at Erath in 1994.  We get the drying east winds coming off the high desert that begin to desiccate the fruit.  But the east winds stop, the nights cool down, and even if we don’t get rain, the vines can begin to slowly compensate for a water deficit by searching for every last drop in the soil.  But still, some rain would be nice.

We did receive it finally by getting about an inch of rain on October 12th.  Over the next few days we accumulated another inch.  So then we were hydrated.  We began to see grapes balance out with sugars and acids lowering down to normal, pH shifted upward to decent 3.1 to 3.3 numbers and most importantly flavors had another week or two to develop.

Another potential worry was that now with rain on the grapes, we could have botrytis form.   Two factors allayed this fear.  One…due to the driest summer in 71 years, and good vineyard management, there was very minimal disease pressure.  Two…we had 7-10 days to get the fruit off if we did begin to see disease pressure increasing.  The great news is that now we had the hang time for perfect flavor development, we had hydration, and we had cold nights. A perfect scenario for a perfect harvest.

It’s all about playing the weather and having good vineyard managers and partners.  Most of our Willamette Valley fruit was picked between October 12th and October 19th.  The only bad thing about this harvest is that the tonnages were down significantly throughout Oregon, and especially for Pinot Gris. This had to do with having two consecutive cold wet springs in a row which set us up for a small flower count and poor fertilization of the flowers.   We are down 35% with Pinot Gris.

Fortunately I think we will be able to keep distribution supplied through December of 2013.  And what we’ve got is fantastic.

Rob  November 2nd, 2012

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