The growing sense of optimism over the 2008 vintage in Oregon has spilled over the edge of the fermenter into outright excitement. Veteran winemakers throughout the Willamette Valley are letting their enthusiasm for this vintage show now that almost all their fruit is harvested. Here are some comments on the 2008 vintage from some of Oregon’s most important winemakers.
Brian O’Donnell owner and winemaker of the one of Oregon’s finest estates Belle Pente describes 2008 this way, “In terms of my impression of the harvest, I’m really excited! We brought in 10 tons October 1st that is now done, and these are some of the most delicious young wines I’ve ever tasted! The chemistry on the stuff we picked later is a little bizarre, but with a few tweaks it should be fine….we’re planning to let fermentation run a little hotter than normal and do longer than normal post-fermentation maceration to try and “burn” some of the obvious fruitiness out of the wines to let the site characteristics show thru better. But frankly, I think we’ve got a tiger by the tail, and she’s wild and sassy and will take a lot of good (and lucky) winemaking decisions to get the best out of her.”
Few growers and winemakers have the depth of experience possessed by David Adelsheim one of the true founders and pioneers of the Oregon wine industry. About this vintage he comments, “Another weird year. Three weeks late, rain in July and August, and still we saw the beginnings of drought stress in some sites. We starting picking on Sep 29th and finished this past week on Oct 18th. A third of our Pinot noir was picked by Oct 3rd; during the next 10 days (which were damp) we picked only a few lots of white grapes; everything else was picked in the final six hectic days. And the quality is looking pretty grand. It will need to be – our crop levels were off by 30% compared to 2007”
Jerry Murray winemaker and vineyard manager of highly regarded Patton Valley Vineyards says of 2008, “The harvest has looked great. We pulled in the last of our fruit yesterday. Considering the way the season started out, late bud break and all, mother nature has given us exactly what we needed to not just to avoid a disaster but to really ripen fruit in a way that should make some amazing wines, true pinot. The chemistry of the grapes has been just about perfect, great acidity, moderate alcohol, great color and phenolic development. As a winemaker you hope for this sort of vintage every year but I would be surprised if you get more than a handful in a lifetime. All that is left is to see the quality through to bottle. It is very exciting.”
Top: Vines at the Belle Pente estate vineyard change color. Below: Harvest in Tony Soter’s Mineral Springs Vineyard