Weather around Winderlea
We are happy to report that the weather has been rather unremarkable this spring and early summer. March and April saw highs in the mid to upper 50s and nighttime lows in the upper 30s to mid 40s. These slightly higher than average temperatures and precipitation made for a rather stress free early spring in the vineyard. May followed with continued slightly higher than normal temperatures and moderately drier conditions, while June cooled down considerably. As July comes to a close we experienced a heat spike earlier in the month and some unusual rain mid month. In terms of heat accumulation, at 1195 degree days through the 26th, this year is looking similar to 2002 with 1218 degree days. 2002 is considered to have been an exceptional vintage, though a lot can happen between now and harvest.
As reported in our Winter Journal we are evolving practices in the vineyard and using more and more organic methods. During the first week of May, we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with “Amigo” Bob Cantisano one of the foremost organic farm consultants on the West Coast. Called the “Eco-Oracle,” by The Wine Spectator – Amigo walked our vineyard with us and identified a number of new practices that could help us improve the “tilth” of our property overall and address a small patch of phylloxera in one of our old own rooted vineyard blocks.
Working with our vineyard manager, Andy Humphrey – also a long time supporter of Amigo – we developed a new spray program for the property eliminating the remaining sulfur sprays and replacing them with a variety of organic sprays to address any potential fungal, mildew or botrytis threats. In addition to revising our spray program we also determined a cover crop during the growing season will provide more organic matter to the benefit of the vineyard as well as providing a home to beneficial insects. This cover crop is made up of a specially prepared combination of 26 flowers and herbs including buckwheat, phacelia, bachelor buttons, baby’s breath, California poppy, coriander, primrose, parsley, dill and cilantro. The spring/summer cover crop does give the vineyard a different look. In the past, the vineyard was clean cultivated during the summer – leaving each row cleared of any vegetation. Now, when you drive by or walk through the vineyard you will note that every other row has a lovely and beneficial cover of herbs and flowers.
Oh – and in case you missed this story in your May/June 2007 subscription of Vineyard and Winery Management – our Goldschmidt vineyard was rated one of the 10 best Oregon Vineyards. We couldn’t be prouder!
Bud Break and Bloom
The spring and summer have been so exciting for us as we watch the vines grow, before our very eyes, for the first time. Two dates that are very important in the growing cycle of the vineyard are bud break and bloom. Bud break marks the emergence of the shoots that will grow to bear grapes. Bloom, which lasts for about 7 to 10 days, starts when the flower cap falls away and ends when the flowers successfully self-pollinate. With luck they will “set” and continue to develop into full-grown grapes. We called bud break on Friday, April 6th – (Good Friday), and bloom on Thursday, June 7th. Based on this rather early bloom date – we would expect to start harvesting on September 15th – 100 days after bloom. For any of you who may be interested in spending some time with us over crush – keep this date in mind.
Barrel Tasting and Blending
The tough work really started in early May with days of exacting barrel tasting in order to start making decisions about blending. If you’ve been following our vintage notes this year, you will recall that we picked 6 distinct lots of fruit and have them aging in 25 barrels. We are using a large selection of barrels in order to become acquainted with the characteristics imparted by each to different lots of fruit. Each lot of fruit was aged in French Oak Barrels, of which 30% were new barrels, and the balance was divided among once used and twice used barrels. The coopers we are using include Francois Freres, Cadus and Seguin Moreau.
So, how have things aged? We are thrilled with how the wine is maturing. First, the colors are beautiful – they look like Pinot noir. We have been very focused on crafting wines that are not overly extracted. Early on in the process – we will admit – we were a bit concerned thinking the wines appeared too light in color. It is amazing how a couple of additional months in barrel have helped bring the color along to the beautiful garnet they are today.
After lots of tasting and discussing – we believe the 6 lots of fruit have developed into 4 distinct blends.
Blend 1 is made up of Lot 1 and Lot 2, which are the 2 lots from our Goldschmidt vineyard. These lots are made up of the Dijon clones 667, 777 and 115. This blend shows beautiful fruit, great structure with silky tannins and a medium to long finish. Blend 1 will be released as our Goldschmidt single vineyard designate.
Blend 2 is made up of Lot 3 and 4 – all Pommard clones from the ANA vineyard. This wine is a bit more intense in color – a deeper garnet with darker berry fruit aroma and pallet, well integrated acid and tannins and long finish. There is a WOW factor to this wine noted by all of us.
Blend 2 will be released as our Inaugural Reserve.
Blend 3 is made up of 80% of Lot 5 and 20% of Lot 6. Lot 5 is planted to the Dijon 777 clone and Lot 6 to Pommard. The color is classic garnet with strawberry, cherry and cranberry aromas. On the pallet we found layers of berries, spice and earthiness. Great mouth feel and finish.
Blend 3 will be released as our ANA single vineyard designate.
Blend 4 is made up of the remaining barrels of Lot 6 planted to Pommard. Frankly, we had some early concerns about this wine, as it didn’t seem to show some of the characteristic fruit of the ANA vineyard. We are blown away with what has happened to this wine over the last few months. The fruit has come through beautifully on both the nose and the pallet. It is showing very good structure and a full finish.
Blend 4 will be released as our Dundee Hills Vineyards bottling.
About the Winery
Bottling and Labeling
We searched for months for just the right bottle for our wine. We wanted a bottle that embodied the “elegant and feminine” wines we are crafting. We think we’ve found it with the Anassa bottle from Saver Glass’ Bourgogne Imperiales line. We will be the first winery in Oregon to use this unique bottle.
Our first day of bottling will be on August 18th. We are starting with a very small amount of wine – just Blend 4, our Dundee Hills Vineyards label. The remainder of our wines we plan to bottle after harvest most likely in early December.
We’ve been working on a number of other projects in conjunction with the winery. The most significant is finalizing the design plans for our tasting room. We are almost finished with the plans and hope to be breaking ground by late summer or early autumn. A sketch of the tasting room will be posted shortly.
Many of you have expressed an interest in “volunteering” for crush. So, what does this entail? Well – the day starts out between 7 and 8 am, when it’s still cool, and the professionals are picking the grapes. The volunteer Crush staff works in the vineyard sorting out “MOG” (material other than grapes) as fruit is cut from the vines and placed into bins. From the vineyard, you will spend the rest of the day at the winery sorting fruit on sorting tables. You will become expert in MOG, secondary clusters, raisined fruit, and botrytis. You will listen to (and no doubt critique) a wide variety of music, work shoulder to shoulder with people from around the country and the world, talk non stop about wine (and a whole range of other equally fascinating topics), have a beer or two, eat a great lunch paired with the perfect glass of Pinot noir. Oh – and the best part – you’ll get to wear a really cool shirt and hat sporting the Winderlea logo!
When is all of this fun???? Anytime between mid-September and mid-October the call can go out. If you have a flexible schedule, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will keep you posted as harvest approaches.
We lost one of our greatest supporters this spring – Donna’s Dad – Bill (Billy) Morris. Dad died unexpectedly on May 18th – sadly – before he was able to visit Oregon and walk through the vineyard with us. He was so excited about everything we were doing – and always had 100 questions about what was happening in the vineyard whenever we spoke.
He was looking forward to traveling out to Oregon this summer to share in what we are doing – and also to re-visit some of his history at Ft. Lewis, Washington where he spent 6 months in training with the US Army before his tours of duty in Japan and Korea.
I am so thankful that my Dad shared his sense of adventure and desire to experience and do new things in his life with us. His spirit and love for people and life are alive with us.
As a way to always have him in the vineyard with us – we are dedicating the first and oldest block in our vineyard to him – Block 1 – which will now be known as “Billy’s Block.”