I spent the day visiting a couple vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, sampling at one after some discussion about whether we had a good read on just where the grapes are ripeness-wise, then stopped by August Cellars outside of Newberg to check in on some friends bringing in fruit today, all before processing samples at the winery in Portland for sugar and ph levels. So...
What a gorgeous early fall day. Down I-5 to the Wheatland Ferry, always a pleasant way to cross the Willamette River to get to the heart of the Eola Hills. I first went to the Zenith Vineyard where I'm getting some Pommard clone off some younger vines. This lower site and younger block is nicely late ripening this year, which should allow for good flavor development without sugars being too high. Acids are running high this year, relatively, so that's good if you're planning to push off harvesting for a while yet.
Then north to the Walnut Hill area of the Amity Hills to check on the steep vineyard I'm getting most of my pinot from this year. I brought big ziplock bags and clippers to cut clusters from all over the vineyard for sugar and acid samples by each of the four Dijon clones planted here: 114, 115, 667 and 777. The numbers are all in the 23.5 to 24 range with ph from 3.27 to 3.40, all perfect if the flavors were more developed. The grower was suggesting we pick now, but we want to wait for another week. There's more moderate temps in the forecast, even some rain. I've learned to not rush things with pinot. The rain isn't expected to be a deluge. The grapes need more time to develop better flavors. I wouldn't be surprised to see in a week that the sugars haven't changed at all, with the ph up a bit, and the flavors that much better. That's the idea anyway.
By mid afternoon I was in Lafayette and hungry, so where better to go than Martha's for some tacos. Delicious. Then up through Newberg to August Cellars. The fruit coming in was all pinot, with one vineyard showing similar sugars and acids a few days ago to what I got from the Walnut Hill site today. But that vineyard had 9 grams of acid per liter. Looks like acids are high this year, giving me even more reason to allow for better flavor development in what I'm getting. Another producer had some grapes from a typically early site. Sugars were just above 26 brix, pretty high. But ph was in the low 3.2 range. Again, high acid that suggests we have some leeway to get less ripe vineyards further along without losing too much naturally acidity. 2006 this vintage is not, when I commonly saw fruit at 26 brix but 3.7 to 3.9 ph. Frankly, the numbers this year are weird, but perhaps weird good. We'll see.
All this means I'm not pulling in fruit until the end of this coming week, at the earliest. Which is fine by me. I'm not quite ready mentally for the harvest, and I definitely don't want to pick too soon. Another week sounds great right about now.