Everything is growing like crazy in the vineyard, and we’re making careful adjustments to ensure we end up with a quality product. These daily farming decisions and seeing their results in bottle is one of the reasons I love doing what I do.
This growing season, like all winemaking seasons, is about finding balance. We took our first cluster samples over the weekend to measure for lag weights. Lag phase is a specific time about halfway through the growing season, when the clusters completely stop growing for two weeks. We want to pinpoint when this phase occurs, so we start sampling early, pulling clusters from each block of the vineyard and finding their average weight. We use the measurements we take during lag phase to determine how much crop to “drop.”
Dropping fruit means we cut some clusters off each vine during the summer, based on how many shoots are on each plant and the size of the clusters. If we left everything Mother Nature gave us, we would have too many grape clusters on each vine, leading to an underdeveloped taste in the wine, rather than the concentrated flavors we want. This is a practice specific to Pinot Noir, and shows why these grapes are more expensive to grow than others. It’s a perfect example of how the decisions we make all year-round in the vineyard have huge impacts on the final product.
A heat spell is coming later this week, and since we don’t irrigate the vineyard, it’s so important that the vines have very deep roots to reach moisture deep down in the soil. One of the ways we train the vines to grow deep roots is to plant them very densely. The vines have to compete with one another for resources, reaching farther and farther down into the earth. This preserves the true expression of the fruit.
I’m also working on finding balance in the cellar. Over the past few weeks I have been working on blends for the 2017 vintage, making sure each of our Pinot Noirs is balanced and distinct. The 2017 vintage is shaping up to be one that fans of Oregon Pinot Noir should really enjoy.
We'll get one vintage in the bottle and prepare to welcome the next vintage into the cellar. With the long-range forecast showing a lot of sunshine, harvest will be here before we know it!
Winemaker and Co-Owner, Ayres Vineyard & Winery