Scott’s Blog

Home and Away…

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

It’s a good feeling – all of the grapes are in for the year, the quality is excellent, the fermentations have been smooth and trouble-free, and we can finally breathe for a minute (before getting back to punch-downs, décuvage, press-loads, débourbage, and barreling-down. Whew.)

While Kelley and her crew have that well in hand, I’m heading off for the road.  Look out DC, Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Naples and Bend – I’m on my way! Over the next five weeks or so I’ll be spreading the gospel of Scott Paul and our new line of Wildstock wines to the faithful and not-yet-converted – with lots of tasting events and winemaker dinners in the plans. Watch your email for all the details – we’ll let you know when I’m headed your way.

Speaking of which – great to see our new Wildstock Pinot on the shelves out in the market already – look for this great-value every-day drinker in a store near you now!

You can feel it in the air here, it’s been a beautiful and warm fall, but now it’s really starting to feel like fall. Crisp cool mornings, sunny 65-70 degree days. Perfect time to settle in with some fresh wild-caught Pacific Salmon and a bottle of Scott Paul or two…

I’ll be in touch from the road – stay tuned for more Pinot madness from across the US!

Harvest 2014 – no room at the inn…

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Cheek-to-jowl. The winery is packed with fermenters, each tank full of grapes happily fermenting along, and we are filled to capacity and then some. 68.2 tons in total this year. That’s not a lot – many of our neighbors harvest hundreds of tons – but it’s a lot when you’re only expecting about 50 tons!

2014 will be remembered as a great vintage, and also as one when a very rare phenomenon occurred – fabulous quality and abundant quantity at the same time. Generally speaking, higher yielding years are not often the best quality, especially in the world of Pinot Noir. But every once in a great while, nature delivers quality and quantity in tandem. 1999 in Burgundy is the most recent example, and now we’ve got it here in the Willamette Valley in 2014. Yay!

Nice ripeness (we picked everything at 23-23.5 Brix), good acids, nice low pH, and most importantly great flavor development. These are going to be delicious wines when they hit the world in about two years from now. Very similar to 2012, lots in common with 2008. We won’t know the character and personality of the 2014s for quite some time yet, but we already know they’re going to be among the best we’ve made.

Winemaker superstar Kelley Fox and our crush team with Arabella, and Italian intern Sauro are doing a fabulous job keeping up with it all. Kudos to them, thanks to Mother Nature, and full speed ahead. We are very very thankful…

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…