Scott’s Blog

2014 harvest update – Yes, please!

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

We are deep into it now. The winery is starting to fill up, and we’ll be picking all the rest of our blocks Tuesday through Friday this week, unless the weather does something bizarre and unexpected.

So far, the fruit we’ve brought in has been absolutely pristine- there has literally been nothing to remove on the sorting line except for a few leaves. From the first 15 tons we didn’t fill half of a 5-gallon bucket with stuff pulled off of the line – and that was only second-crop clusters that were picked by mistake.

So far this is reminding me a lot of 2008 and 2012, in terms of the pure quality of the fruit. Zero signs of any maladies of any kind, good ripeness, good acidity, pH levels are correct – this should be another superb vintage, if everything else comes in looking like what we’ve got so far.

Temperatures are forecast to dip this week, cooling off into the 70s, which should serve us well. We should not have to worry about any over-ripeness, and the overall balance is really looking nice.

Azana Chardonnay - photo courtesey Kelley Fox

Keep your fingers crossed for us, and I’ll have more updates here as things progress, including our first ever Chardonnay from our ultra-high-density block at Azana vineyard…

Harvest 2014 begins!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

It’s literally been a year in the making, but here we go! Harvest 2014 starts tomorrow morning – we’ll pick our three acres of Nysa in the Dundee Hills, and then roll on to Ribbon Ridge, Azana and Maresh over the next 10 days or so.

Clone 115 at Nysa - ripe for the pickin'...

Everything is looking very good, and at this point I’m optimistic for an excellent year. Maybe a cross between 2008 & 2012? We’ll see how it all shakes out.
Walked and tasted every block of every site yesterday – if the acidity holds up while the sugars rise a bit more, we’ll be golden. More as it happens…

Azana - getting close, maybe a week away...

Vineyard update 9-9-14

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

We are getting close. Or at least closer. Took our first samples at Ribbon Ridge this morning – from a flavor perspective I’d guess we’re 10 days or so away yet. Will run numbers in the lab this afternoon – Kelley is getting ready for bottling the 2013s tomorrow…

Ribbon Ridge Vyd. - lower block 9-9-14

We’re looking at sunny and hi-70s to low-80s this week, then a spike back up to near 90 for the weekend. The grapes should be very happy indeed. At this point, all looks good, all systems are go. More as it develops. This is where it gets interesting…

Team Scott Paul crushes another 13.1

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Congrats to the intrepid Scott Paul Running Team – despite turned ankles, torn hamstrings, and questionable training habits, we rocked another strong 13.1 at the Wine Country Half-Marathon on Sunday!

Scott, Norm, Daelyn, Frank & Rory - with the perfect recovery beverage, Champagne!

Welcome to the Hotel California

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Every once in a while I get to step back into my former rock & roll life for a few minutes. I spent 30-some years in that world and had a fantastic time. I did it until it wasn’t fun anymore, and stepped away to follow my crazy dream of making wine. It was a great decision, everything has worked out well, and I’ve never regretted a thing. But it is fun to jump back in to that world for a minute – especially knowing that one can indeed not only check-out, but actually leave, contrary to the lyrics of the classic song.

My friends and heroes the Eagles were in town last night for another sold-out show on their never-ending tour of the world. See them if you get the chance, it is truly a great live show. Along with Springsteen, they put on one of the best shows on the planet. It was a thrill to introduce daughter Pirrie to Don Henley backstage last night before the show. It was a great night in the rarified bubble of rock superstardom – now back to our regularly scheduled reality!

Miss P and Mr. Henley backstage before the show last night...

4-5 weeks away? Harvest 2014 update…

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

All of us in the wine business know not to count our chickens before they’re hatched, but I can say that we’ve got some nice looking eggs in the nest at this point, and the weather has continues to cooperate. Even though we’ve had a string of days in the high 80s to low 90s, we’ve continued to have a nearly 30-degree drop every night, helping the grapes maintain their acidity and keeping the ripening process from hurtling on too fast. In other words, so far so good.

I walked our blocks at Ribbon Ridge Vyd. this morning, where veraison is about 85-90% complete and the crop looks really nice. We’ve already done our thinning pass, so today I just dropped any clusters that were 100% green and lagging behind. Everything else should ripen easily.  (Famous last words!)

Ribbon Ridge, 8-26-14

Maresh Vyd, is quite a bit behind, as always, and will certainly be the last stuff we pick – barring anything totally unusual. Only about 60-65% of the grapes are colored-up so far, but it’s a very healthy looking crop for this site. Our own-rooted old vines here typically never deliver more than 1.5 tons to the acre, and I’m estimating that’s right about where will be this year.

Still coloring-up at Maresh, 8-26-14

Over on the next hill to the south, Nysa Vyd. looks to be pretty advanced already – about 90% thru veraison, and a nice thinning pass has left us a good 2-2.25 tons to the acre. I wouldn’t be surprised if we pick this on the early side this year, possible around the same time as Ribbon Ridge.

Getting ripe at Nysa - 8-26-14

On the next hill to the north – Azana Vyd. is looking good, but due to the higher elevation (up to 950’ at the top) it is behind most of the others, maybe at about the same stage as the higher blocks of Maresh right now. Best crop we’ve seen here yet, as these vines at age 7 are starting to get dialed in.

Azana - 8-26-14

It is supposed to cool down and maybe drizzle a bit this weekend, which would be a welcome drink for the vines. As of now I’m guessing we might start harvest the week of Sep. 22nd – but of course that could slide all over the place in the coming weeks. More as it happens…

Live and in living color & on the big screen…

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

We’ve got the first signs of veraison – color change – showing up at all of our sites now. We’ve had a few cooler days this week, slowing things down nicely a bit, and I can feel the weather turning cooler in general over the next week-10 days. I’d guess now we’re looking at harvest over the last 10 days of September, which is fine by me. We’ll be dropping a little bit of fruit everywhere next week, getting the crop load down to around 2.25 tons per acre on average. So far, all is looking good…

Color-change underway at Azana Vyd. - 8-15-14

In other news: The new documentary that we’re featured in, American Wine Story, is screening in Portland at the Clinton Street Theater on Friday September 5th at 7:00pm. All the info is here – check it out if you can, this is an excellent film!

Pinot in Paradise…

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

To this point, we could not have had better growing conditions this year. Sunny, warm, dry – it’s been ideal for the most part. There was some rain during flowering in mid-June that caused some shatter (potential grapes to abort) at Nysa and Maresh, but otherwise it’s been very smooth sailing.

We have had a long string of 90-degree days and 55-60-degree nights, so we’re getting that nice 30-degree diurnal fluctuation that helps keep the acidity at a good level. The grapes have been plumping up pretty quickly, but it hasn’t been too hot to move things along too fast so far.

Ribbon Ridge Vyd - 8-6-14

I’ve seen no signs of color change yet, though we should be seeing it in the next few days at Ribbon Ridge (typically our earliest ripening site and the first place we’d see varaison.) It has now cooled to 80-82 degrees this week, and then it looks like we’ll head back to around 90 again for a bit. The season-long forecast that came out last spring has come true – it’s a warm and dry summer, with cool nights, just what Pinot Noir wants and needs.

So, as long as we don’t get big heat spikes into the mid-hi 90s from here on in, we should be in good shape in terms of having a nicely balanced and not over-ripe year. Timing has moved up a bit due to the overall warm temps – I’m guessing we could start around September 17-20th or at this point, but that of course could still move around a lot between now and then. Stay tuned…

Keep on rockin’ in the free world…

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Another IPNC is in the books, and as always it was a great one. The best wine event in the USA every year? No doubt about it. If you’ve never been, make sure you make it at least once – it truly is the best of the best.

It all kicked off with the Oregon premier of American Wine Story on Thursday night, a documentary that we’re featured in that tells the story of several US winemakers who abandoned successful careers to chase their dreams of making wine. Look for it this fall on demand and on iTunes, and Amazon, etc. It’s playing the film festival circuit now, and will then be in independent theaters.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday was non-stop tastings, meals, tastings, seminars, meals, tastings, and tastings. And then we had some wine.

Our '99 Chardonnay - the first Scott Paul wine ever...

On Friday we were part of a blind-tasting seminar, with five winemakers (3 Oregon, 1 California, 1 Burgundy) each presenting a wine, and everybody trying to identify whose was whose. Only three of the winemakers correctly identified their own wines (fortunately we were one of them) – it’s a very humble experience tasting blind, to be sure.

Yes, please...

The Grand Dinner Friday night and Saturday night’s Salmon Bake were the highlights as always, with thousands of bottles of amazing wines making the rounds. Favorites for me were a lovely ’95 Bonnes Mares from Domaine de Vogüé (merci François Millet!), a young but stunning ’11 Richebourg from A-F Gros, and a side by side of ’04 Musigny from Mugnier and de Vogüé (the de Vogüé won this round in a close call.)

We’re now in the middle of what looks like a long stretch of sunny, 90-degree days. The vines are happy, the grapes are plumping up, and summertime in Oregon is good. Let’s have some Grower Champagne, if you don’t mind…

2014 in the vineyards, 2013s in the cellar…

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Summer has arrived with a vengeance here in Oregon – sunny and hot non-stop for as far ahead as we can see. There’s a heat-wave on the way this weekend – 95-100 degrees for at least three days straight. The vines have been really happy up to this point, but this heat will be too much. At these temperatures, the vines will just shut down until the heat abates, and we are likely to see some signs of water stress in some places.

Overall the fruit set looks pretty good this year – there was some rain near the end of flowering that caused a lot of potential grapes to abort – it’s called “shatter”, so the clusters don’t have as many grapes on them as they would have. That said, we have a healthy amount of clusters, and likely won’t need to drop any fruit, as the clusters themselves will be on the small side. There are a lot of hens & chicks – clusters with tiny berries mixed in with the normal sized ones – and this makes us winemakers very happy. Those tiny berries have hardly any juice, but provide intensely concentrated flavor with very little tannin.

Looking good in our blocks of Ribbon Ridge...

It was my great pleasure to host my friend François Millet, winemaker at Burgundy’s legendary Domaine de Vogüé in Chambolle-Musigny, for a few days in Oregon earlier this week. He’s here with his wife and son on vacation touring the western US (it’s their third time in Oregon – they’re big fans!) – and we took him on a vineyard tour and invited him to sit in in our tasting and blending of the 2013s this week.

François Millet in the vineyard at Nysa

It’s not often one gets the undivided attention of the winemaker of arguably some of the world’s greatest wines – what a treat to have François taste through the cellar with us! The 2013s have arrived at a really nice place, thanks to Kelley Fox’s skillful vinification and elevage. There will be six different wines from us from the ’13 vintage – Audrey & La Paulée of course, along with single vineyard wines from Nysa, Azana and Ribbon Ridge, and a very special bottling we made in collaboration with Jean-Nicolas Meo of Domaine Meo-Camuzet in Vosne-Romaneé. More details on these next year as we get closer to release. Stay tuned…

Blending the 2013s with Kelley Fox, François & Julien Millet

So who do you like in the World Cup final on Sunday? I think Germany is the overall stronger team, but my heart is with Leo Messi and Argentina. He will cement his place as the the greatest player of all time if Argentina wins, and he totally deserves it in my book. Should be a tremendous match – I’m totally psyched.

I’ll leave you for now with a shot from the 4th of July on the banks of the Columbia in Hood River – what a great night!

Martha in the twilight in the Gorge...