21 July 2010

Blending trials in the summer

Finally it feels as though summer has arrived.  Everywhere that is except the winery where I sit, though no longer wearing flannel lined jeans, bundled up in a 2 shirts and a fleece and still needing to go outside periodically to warm up my hands.  But once outside I am reminded that summer is here and the grapes are growing!  Just look out how are Chardonnay plant is doing on the left.  Once they start it is amazing how fast they go.  In the Foch the grapes are already pea sized and fruit set looks good.  Fruit set is how many berries are on each cluster, if there are missing berries or if they are of uniform size.  Now we just need to hope for a perfect summer and fall growing season so everything ripens and stays looking as healthy as it does right now.
Marechal Foch
Under the Canopy
New Vines
Next week the guys will start removing leaves from around the grapes so that they get more sun and more air.  Sun helps with the ripening, obviously, and the air helps keep mildew and rot at bay.  If the morning dew or a little rain sits on the fruit it can start to mold and cause other problems lowering the quality of the grapes and making my job a little more difficult.  The better the fruit quality is the less I have to meddle and the better the wine is in the end.
We have also seriously started blending trials and I have to admit that they aren't coming together as smoothly as some years.  Barrels that I thought would make a good reserve wine haven't stood out in the blind tastings and the Willamette Valley blend is nearly indistinguishable from the reserves.  Nor is the Willamette better when I take out my reserve barrel ideas, which is a side benefit I always hope to occur.  We are going to try my third idea tomorrow and see if I have gotten closer to the right blends yet.  If not, we will really discuss whether or not to even make a reserve or any single vineyard wines this year.  The Chardonnay and Foch are mostly cooperating and may just take a little tweaking to get them closer to what I consider ideal.  (Read the end of that last sentence tongue in cheek!)  I'll let you know next week if we are getting anywhere.

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