As we come down the home stretch of the growing season, we find ourselves in the most stressful time for growers and winemakers alike—that time just before harvest when we’re deciding just the right time to pick our grapes.
The dry, cloudless Oregon summers have started to give way to a bit of rain, and there’s a chill creeping into the air. Yet the grapes are still developing, and our goal is to let them ripen to the maximum potential that nature will allow so that our wines have the fullness of flavors that all of us crave.
In making our picking decisions, we do quite a bit of cluster sampling during these weeks. The idea is to grab representative samples from each of our vineyards, then test the juice chemistry and flavors to dial in that sweet spot for picking (we’ll talk about the testing part in the next blog post).
Getting a true representative sample from a vineyard is a surprisingly difficult thing—Dave’s technique is to go back and forth through the rows, leaving a set number of vines between samples. Once he chooses a vine to sample from, he takes a cluster from different spots on each vine. A vineyard sample will contain anywhere between 10-20 clusters (all packed into a handy Ziploc storage bag!), depending on the size of the vineyard and how much fruit is on the vine.