First harvest in a while

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Jun 26, 2014
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I have about a half-acre vineyard in Lower Willamette, planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Marchal Foch. I've been hobby farmiing the vineyard for about 20 years but stopped trying to make wine from it about ten years ago. Work and other interests ... you know.

A couple of years ago, I started pruning and cleaning up the vineyard to get it back into production and this year went all-in. Went to war on the blackberries that infested much of the vineyard, pruned, sprayed for PM, and repeated all tasks again and again.

The vineyard looks good and is full of grapes. I have a lot to learn about pruning and almost certainly overcropped. The "noble wine grapes" are behind what I'm hearing from the commercial growers in my area. When I surveyed the grapes last week, they average about 19-20 degrees brix.

So, I decided to hold off harvesting the European grapes until October. In the past, I've harvested as late at October 20 with good results. This is not something that I want to do but I'd rather chance losing the crop than pick unripe fruit and taste my regret for years to come.

The Foch came in at 23 degrees brix and .7% acidity -- ready to pick! I have 49 MF vines and we got a pretty heavy yield yesterday. At this time, there is about 60 gallons of must in barrels in my garage and I pressed about 10 gallons of juice. The juice was given to the people that helped harvest the grapes and to my kind neighbors that have put up with the sound of my spraying the grapes at 5AM every seven to ten days.

I'll get some pictures up if people are interested.

We have some storms about to move through -- it started raining as I am writing this. I don't know what will happen to the grapes that are still on the vines. Maybe they'll be alright or maybe not. We'll see.

Questions, comments and especially advice are sought.
Where are you located? We picked in Gaston down the street from Elk Cove last Sunday, and the pinot brix was up around 24. I'm surprised you were only at 19. I'm checking with a friend at Eyrie for you right now regarding if it is cool to let your pinot hang through the rainy week.
And I quote:

"Not many consequences really. You can make fine wine after rain, especially if warm dry weather comes back. This summer's been pretty dry, so it's not going to change to a wet fall overnight. A day or two of rain isn't bad unless rot gets started. That's another story."
Hey Way

Thanks for asking around and letting me know what your friend said. He's giving me some added assurance that I'll be OK.

Growing your own grapes and making them into wine is fascinating ... there is so much to learn. One of my purposes in writing this thread was to let people know that it doesn't always work out the way you'd like, that's OK. Even if my things go awry in the next few weeks, I learned and will do better next year. No regrets. This is a hobby.

Regarding sugar levels*: Chard: 19.1, PN: 20.7, PG: 20.5

My vineyard has always lagged the commercial growers. It's my guess that I'm not removing enough shoots during the pruning and the vines simply can't make enough sugar quickly enough to keep up with the commercial guys. But there are other factors at work such as I haven't done anything to amend the soil and the soil isn't one of the acclaimed ones in the valley, like Jory. Nobody brags about having Chehalis silty-clay-loam soil with west-facing 3% slope.

I live in Benton County. If you are curious about what my vineyard looks like, I'll post some photos on my vineyard in the Vineyard Section. My vineyard is named "Big Barn".

*In case you are wondering, I checked the calibration of my temperature-compensated refractometer using distilled water and a stock solution of 20% sucrose in distilled water. Distilled water read 0 and the stock solution read 19.8% on the refractometer. I figure this to be within the error of my procedure for making the stock solution. So, the results posted above are direct readings from the refractometer.

Thanks again for your reply

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