Sunshine makes for a beautiful finish to ’14

I pulled into our daughter’s school yesterday afternoon, right alongside a winemaker who was also picking his kids up.

“You busy workin’ hard out there?” I asked, knowingly with a smile.  Of course he had been working hard, with heat like this most area wineries have already finished harvesting their fruit, bringing them knee deep in mid-fermentation by now.

“Nope, I still haven’t brought in a thing!”  This actually shocked me.

“What? Really? Nothing?”

“Yeah, I just kept everything hanging out there on the vine this year, and didn’t drop anything.  I pretty much figured it was going to be a long, hot and dry season this year.”  He was pretty optimistic on the delivery, with the sun beating down at 75 degrees, two days before the start of October.  I hadn’t given much thought to this scenario until that moment.  In a super warm vintage like this one, he has elected to let a naturally heavy fruit set ride out the whole season, with no green harvest or crop thinning along the way.  Leaving it heavy slows down

the rate at which the fruit will ripen, the more there is on a vine, the more energy it will take to get all the clusters to ripen, requiring more time and sunshine.

This concept is like playing the Oregon weather lottery, with odds at double or nothing!  That is exaggerated, as he could decide to drop half the fruit tomorrow, wait a couple days and have a beautiful harvest.  Who is to know!!?  With many winemakers electing to add acid to their fermenters this year, as higher pHs are being seen  across the board– is this guy the renegade genius of the pack?!  He’ll have the naturally bright, lean, BOUNTIFUL Pinot noir that could turn out like a dream!  My hat’s off to him and anyone else brave enough to let it ride.  I suppose if there ever were a year to try it….. onwards and upwards friends!  May the summer be long and warm and your wines be plentiful!