The wine grape harvest is officially under way at many of Oregon’s 463 wineries and 849 vineyards as the state’s industry looks forward to one of its earliest and most promising harvests in years. Temperatures are tracking well above recent years and among the highest in some locations in more than a decade.
“This year’s crush pad fashion statements may well tend to shorts, tank tops and aloha shirts,” said Doug Tunnel, owner and winemaker at Brick House Vineyards in the YamhillCarlton AVA. “With the long, slow accumulation of heat units (warm days), 2013 looks like a truly outstanding year, somewhat more abundant than 2012, but with every promise of the stellar quality of that (2102) vintage.”
While some growers and wineries have begun bringing in fruit this week, the harvest is expected to begin in earnest the week of Sept. 16 and continue thought October for some varieties in some areas of the state. The forecast for most of the state’s key winegrowing regions calls for warm or hot daytime temperatures, giving way to cool evenings through the remainder of this week.
“The 30-day forecast is currently showing a good chance for warmer than normal conditions across most of the West,” said Gregory Jones, Southern Oregon University professor and wine climatologist.
Winegrowers in the traditionally warmer southern regions of Oregon are particularly optimistic about their harvest prospects. “The Southern Oregon harvest is turning into a spectacular event,” said Ruth Garvin of Cliff Creek Cellars and president of the Southern Oregon Wineries Association. “The fruit load is full of large clusters and the flavors are showing well, due to our cool nights.”
“This year marks some of the earliest harvesting date we’ve seen in a long time,” said Dick Calafato, president of the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association. “We predict a simply exceptional vintage.”
Farther north in the Dundee Hills AVA, Stoller Family Estate, typically one of the first to harvest, expects to be picking fruit at its lower elevations this week. “It appears to be an allaround stellar year for the Dundee Hills,” said Robert Schultz, vineyard manager at Stoller. Schultz is estimating the harvest at Stoller will total about 600 tons –slightly above average due to recent plantings now yielding fruit.
In the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, the harvest is “pulling together like a dream,” said Isabelle Meunier, winemaker at Evening Land Vineyards. “We’ve had the earliest veraison (color change) since 2006. All around, 2013 promises to be an early and beautiful vintage – all in balance,” she said.
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