As it stands, we’re looking at harvesting fruit from the Bells Up Estate Vineyard’s 4-year-old Pinot Noir grapevines within the next few weeks for the first time ever to make the 2017 Prelude Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir. So before things get really crazy, we wanted to do a quick photo recap of how things progressed in 2017.
Initially it was a long, long, LONG wet (wet-wet-wet-wet) rainy spring and bud break was running about 3 weeks late for everyone in the Willamette Valley, including us. Sara captured a shot of it in our heritage clone Pommard on April 29, shown above as this post’s featured photo. (This shot was actually taken a few days after we noticed bud break, because Sara was traveling a lot for her work in that month.)
We also became the proud new owners of a flail mower, attached to the back of the Big Red Machine in the photo below. Dave took it for a spin all over the vineyard to knock down grass and weeds on May 4. Below you can see the bud break well in progress in the Dijon Clone 667 Pinot Noir, as Dave powers past the 3-year-old Seyval Blanc planting immediately next to him.
By May 15 we’d already broken in the new #wineporch on the winery building with several events for media, Fanfare Club and industry. And our Pommard was producing more leaves.
Meanwhile, our little overachievers in the Pearson Pinot Noir Blocks (home to 2-year-old heritage clone Wadenswil and Dijon Clones 113 and 943), decided to outgrow their protective blue tubes. Those were removed on June 6.
After the tubes were removed, our amazing vineyard crew started training the toddler vines, also on June 6.
Meanwhile, directly above the Pearson blocks, the Pommard was growing like mad (also taken on June 6).
The Seyval Blanc, shown below, also began to surpass our expectations for these 3-year-old vines, leafing out with more vigor than anticipated. We started to think we might have enough Seyval clusters for an experimental mini-batch on June 6…
…especially once we saw baby clusters like the one below (also taken on June 6).
Just a couple of weeks later—on June 22—those same Seyval Blanc clusters were in bloom, as were all the Pommard and 667 vines.
It was gorgeous and sunny, with normal temperatures. And the 667 kept soaking up the sunshine and the view (photo taken June 22).
The weather held well into July, and the 4-year-old vines got so bushy they got a haircut (called hedging) on July 19.
By July 25 we were seeing the fruits of our labor, literally.
Sara couldn’t resist a side-by-side cluster comparison of Pommard, 667 and Seyval Blanc (left to right below) on July 25.
On July 30 Dave gave one of his first vineyard tours to a wine tasting group that was particularly interested in seeing the development of the estate vines.
August 21, 99.9% totality over the Pommard during the Total Eclipse 2017.
By August 23, we’d scored some 100-plus degree days and veraison (color change) was well in motion in the Pommard and 667.
The heat seems to have made up a bit of the difference on the harvest dates that were anticipated in the spring. We’re now looking being about 2 weeks behind where we were in the past few years on our Willamette Valley-sourced vineyards, with our own Pinot Noir coming in for production into our first estate Rosé of Pinot Noir sooner. On September 8, the 4-year-old Pinot Noir was looking like this…
…so our vineyard crew began putting on the new bird netting throughout the Pinot in hopes of deterring the little feathered buggers from feasting on our harvest!
Not sure if you can see, but one of the crew is walking the end of the roll of net down to the end of this row of 667. She’s super tiny in the distance!
And, of course, cluster size does NOT matter in winemaking. It’s all about the flavors. But Sara couldn’t resist. Here’s the Pommard on September 8… it seems to be a bit further along in flavor development with lovely red fruit on the palate.
The 667 on September 8… Flavors need a couple more weeks to develop, but there are definitely spicebox notes all over this one.
And the Seyval Blanc on September 8. We definitely do have enough to harvest by hand ourselves (as in Sara and Dave. Harvesting. Without professional assistance.) and make that little experimental batch. The juice is already showing strong notes of D’Anjou Pear and Vanilla. Super excited to see how this turns out.