harvest report – sun, wind, rain, hail, haboob...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Planet Blog is loaded with harvest reports at the moment, which is de rigeur for this time of year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. My own feeling is that there is little need for any of it, though it does fill space. The headline above captures a small part of the harvest here in the Pacific Northwest. You can fill in your own adjectives at will. Here are some to choose from (they all fit):

Early. Surprising. Warm. Prolific. Great. Easy. Challenging. Wet. Unpredictable. Hot. Cool. Humid.

Visiting a dozen vineyards in the northern Willamette valley last week, I heard all of the above and more. Some vintners were rushing to pick ahead of heavy rainfall predicted for the weekend (it didn’t arrive). Others were pulling in some early blocks but waiting for physiological ripeness in others. Some had barely begun. In other words, they were all over the map. And this was in a fairly confined area, in one small part of the region.

So all the blather about the 2013 vintage is not only premature, it’s completely pointless. What matters is who does what/how/when, and how it comes together as a finished wine. Most of those decisions are yet to be made, will vary widely from winery to winery, and in the case of red wines, the final results won’t be seen for another one to five years. Even then, vintage assessments are sketchy and often wrong. The 1999 vintage in the Northwest, widely maligned by the national press, has turned out to be one of the most long-lived in decades. The 2011 vintage in Oregon, also widely-maligned (and unquestionably difficult), turned out some superb, elegant, feminine, classically Burgundian Pinots, which may well age for decades.

So the headline above will have to suffice for my 2013 vintage report. We had sun, wind, rain, some spotty hail, and even a late-breaking haboob (look it up) in the Walla Walla valley. In 2016 I’ll post up some further thoughts.


Unknown said...


You have to worry about the weather if you make wine! Not sure you want to call the vintage out but there is a tremendous amount of logistics and weighting options at this time of the year - especially for folks like us that source fruit from the Umpqua valley all the way to the Idaho border...


PaulG said...

Of course, I understand the importance of weather. But the rush to prognosticate about the "quality" of a vintage, before the grapes have even been picked, is simply stupid. Quality shows up much later, wine by wine, winery by winery, depending upon the myriad of decisions made AFTER the weather is no longer a factor.

Beau said...

I agree a thousandfold. All the blogs (including those by professional critics) talking about 2013 and making predictions are stupid. Whether it's Napa or the Willamette or Walla Walla, we don't know till a few years after the vintage. Look at 2007 here in Oregon.

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