Vintage Update – July 2022
Our vineyard sites are at the tail end of bloom and now tiny grape clusters are growing on the vines displaying the fruit set winemakers will use to craft their 2022 vintages. While the vines were slowly creeping up the trellises during our cool spring, they have recently shot past the top wire thanks to the plentiful sunshine and warmth!
In a traditional year, harvest usually arrives around 100-105 days after bloom which puts the area on track for an early- to mid-October timeline. “Oregon winemakers love a cool, late vintage and I’m no exception,” says Julia Cattrall, winemaker for The Great Oregon Wine Co. & Distillery with a portfolio including Rascal, Duck Pond, and Ransom Wines. “We’re hopeful for an extended, classic, cool-dry October.”
Grape clusters contain hundreds of self-pollinating flowers; once they bloom, it’s just a small subset that develops into grapes. If all the flowers were to pollinate and develop into fruit, the clusters would be overcrowded and the grape quality would suffer.
Currently in the vineyards, our stewards are going through to pull leaves, which allows increased airflow, better access for biodynamic sprays, and lessens the potential for mildew. It also allows the vines to put their energy into growing and sustaining the grape clusters rather than sustaining a fuller leaf canopy than is needed. At many vineyard sites, shoot thinning will begin soon. Vineyard stewards will also begin pruning the tops of the vines in a process called hedging, which keeps them from shading the following rows.
Bill Holloran of Holloran Vineyard Wines, an organically and biodynamically dry farmed winery with two vineyards on either side of Worden Hill Road, farms some of the oldest vines in the Willamette Valley post-prohibition. “Our two vineyards in the Dundee Hills are close in proximity (~ 600 yards apart), and were both planted in the ‘70s with own-rooted Pommard clone Pinot Noir. Their 200 foot elevation difference results in the wines from each site being quite different.”
This is due to the numerous microclimates, soil types and elevations within the Dundee Hills, the attention some vines demand will vary wildly from the needs of other vines just a few hundred feet away. Because of the vines’ need for precision at this point in the growing season, our vineyard stewards and winemakers are working together to make vineyard management decisions on a block-by-block basis.
The steady march to harvest continues in the Dundee Hills!
Photos by Mick Hangland-Skill