November 18, 2021
This is being written on the official end of harvest day of celebration (Beaujolais Nouveau Day), and boy does it feel like there is a lot to celebrate. While last year was abbreviated in so many ways, this vintage felt drawn out and allowed us to take our time. We savored so many moments of this harvest season and made many thoughtful decisions. From pick dates and wine making choices, to the wines we enjoyed with lunch – every moment creates the identity of the vintage. The hours of movement, commotion and creation that we surge through during harvest don’t leave a lot of room for mental processing. So as the weather turns cold and the fiery color from the trees drop away – we settle into a period of reflection. Oregon has a way of marking the transitions in our work with striking seasonal transitions, and the days getting shorter now move us indoors to settle down and think about the past two months.
Though last year was full of fear and frustration as smoke blew through our valley, it offered us a silver lining. That silver lining came in the form of appreciation – and this year it seemed harvest had never felt so sweet. It felt like we were finally able to step out of the smokey shadow and into a new, warm light with all the energy that a new vintage could possibly harness. 2021 feels incredibly dynamic, and more than once we said to one another that it felt like we fit three harvests into one.
There were two rain events this year, and most wineries picked everything before the second rain came. We let nearly half our production hang on the vines through both rain events. The acid remained steady, the fruit aromas in the ferments were explosive, and these young wines feel simultaneously delicate and powerful. Our first pick was Sojeau Vineyard – in itself an incredibly exciting endeavor – which we brought into the winery on September 11th. This was our first fruit of the year, as well as our first venture into the Eola-Amity Hills. The grapes from this site were intended for a single-vineyard bottling, and so far they are living up to those expectations. Our last pick of the season was nearly a month later, on October 8th – our Four Winds Chardonnay. These barrels are still slowly fermenting in our underground cellar, and may take months to finish completely – adding to the taught layers of our white wines.
While it may take a while before we start to see the true potential for this vintage, the energy and complexity is already forming. In addition to a new vineyard site, this year brought a variety of new winemaking concepts for us as well. We did some experimenting with cap management during fermentation this year, and we are bottling a 2021 red wine before this coming summer! We nearly always age our wines in barrel over a second winter, so bottling a red after only 7 months from harvest is a fresh take on our wine. It will be lively and quaffable, as our Willamette Valley wines usually are, with an extra pop of energy from early bottling. Keep an eye out for this release just before summer, as we expect it to go fast!