Renelle's Block, Sara Jane's Block, Tallulah's Run, and the Winery Block (all planted in Pinot Noir) have all been harvested. The only Pinot that has not been picked yet is Abby's Block. Scott decided to throw the dice and see if it would gain a bit more sugar in the first days of November. Also not yet harvested is the Syrah and Viognier. I was walking through Sarah Jane's block today and wanted to get over to the Syrah section, but I didn't want to walk all the way down the row to the road and then climb back up again. So I started looking for a path, and low and behold, there is one. That's a photo of the path looking down on the Syrah vines in the photo at the top of the page. I'm kind of amazed that with all of my walking around this vineyard there are still new paths and sections that I have not yet seen.
I wanted to compare grape varieties a bit today. As you can probably guess, there just wasn't a lot to do at the winery today. There was the morning punch down of the fermentation tanks, but that only took about half an hour. Then Scott had me clean out the crush machine. It is a huge cylinder laid down on it's side. There is a door in the stainless steel structure that opens so that grapes can be placed inside. Scott arranged the door so that it sat at the very bottom and then instructed me to climb in and scrub away. Let me just say I am not a fan of small enclosed spaces. Heck, I lifted my whole house up off the ground so that I wouldn't have to duck all the time when I was under the house working on it. But I did it. I got in there and I scrubbed, and then I steam cleaned. But I still had some free time, so I walked around.
The differences between grape clusters are so amazing to me. Look at the Pinot Cluster above, and the Syrah cluster to the right. See how long the Syrah cluster is and how widely spaced the grapes are from one another? Now look up at the Pinot Noir above. See how tightly bound up they are together? That's one of the reasons Pinot is so difficult to grow. No air can get around those grapes to help dry them off, so they are susceptible to mildew and mold. Pinot is also very thin skinned, so the grapes can dry out easily and they can also get sunburned. The Syrah won't quite get ripe in this cool weather, so Scott is going to make a rose out of it. A Rose wine doesn't need as much sugar as a red wine, so it will work wonderfully for that. Coeur de Terre has only been able to produce an estate Syrah once in the last three years, and it is wonderful, so if you want some, get it right away.
Coeur de Terre also has a small amount of Viognier planted just next to the Syrah. These two grapes go together. A small amount of the white Viognier is added to the Syrah wine, and, contrary to everything that you would assume, it makes the Syrah darker and richer. That's a Viognier cluster to the left. They can be almost twice as large as a Pinot cluster. I think they catch the light in a beautiful way.
Tomorrow afternoon we will be getting more fruit from another vineyard that will also go into Scott's Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Wednesday they are scheduled to harvest Abby's Block and also get more fruit from another vineyard, so that is going to be a very long day.
I'm loving the work of being in a vineyard, and helping to make wine. I don't want to do it for the rest of my life. The work is way too difficult and it requires way too much faith.
I took a wine appreciation class at the Chemeketa Viticulture Center a while back. Someone asked the professor, Bob Sogge, about how wine was made, and he said, "I'm not a wine producer, I specialize in wine consumption." I'm with him! But it is awesome to know more about how wine is made, and to be a part of helping to create it. And not just any wine, but Pinot Noir. And not just any Pinot Noir, but Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. And not just Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, but Coeur de Terre Estate Pinot Noir. And not just Coeur de Terre Estate Pinot Noir, but Abby's Block Pinot Noir. I'll tell you, it doesn't get a whole lot better than that. That's Abby's block catching some late morning sun in the photo below.