Harvest 2011 is underway…

And we’re off! Harvest 2011 has begun, under beautifully sunny skies and crisp fall days in the mid-60s. Indian summer is here and the vines are loving it! Yesss, there is a God…

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We started off by bringing in 10 tons of nice juicy fruit from Ribbon Ridge Vineyard on Sunday, which is often the first site we pick. Flavors were rich and succulent, and we’ve got lovely acid levels and good pH too. The fruit is now soaking at ambient temperature in open-top stainless steel fermenters, where we will leave it alone and let fermentation start naturally in another 3-4 days or so.

The first grapes of 2011 at Ribbon Ridge

All of our other sites seem to be ripening up nicely and will soon be ready to go. We’re excited to be picking the first crop at Azana – our new estate vineyard on Chehalem Mountain – tomorrow. We have all of our blocks at Maresh scheduled in for Sunday and Monday, and at the moment are still trying to figure out when will be the best time to take the Nysa fruit. However it shakes out, we should have all the fruit in the barn in the next week. That will make it another very compact harvest, with the entire vintage coming in over the space of 7-9 days (10-14 is more typical, or at least it used to be. There is no “normal” anymore…)

Kelley, Anna & Bella - Queens of the Crush 2011

I need to take a moment here and be very thankful. Thankful for the clear and dry days and cool and dry nights we’ve been blessed with over the last two weeks, and for the days ahead that look to bring us excellent conditions. This has been the most bizarre growing season we’ve ever encountered, but at the end of the day it could very well be a home-run for us.

On the sorting line with Pirrie

We’ve been spoiled with a string of pretty easy vintages here since 1998. For all the hand-wringing and nail-biting that’s been going on around the valley this fall (and the premature nay-saying that always seems to hit the media whenever we’re harvesting in anything less than 80-degree sunshine) – I’ve got a feeling that 2011 just may go down as a truly great vintage for lovers of pure, authentic, elegant Pinot Noir. I for one am very excited.

Our harvest celebration dinner – “La Paulée de Carlton” will actually be happening right in the middle of crush this year – Saturday Nov. 5th to be exact. There are still some seats available, so book now and plan to join us for the best Bacchanalian Blowout of the year! Now back to the vines…