Are you a wine enthusiast eager to support local wineries? Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or new to the world of wine, embarking on an adventure to explore the best wineries in your neighborhood is a delightful journey. Local wineries are cropping up in unexpected places, offering unique wines that showcase the distinct flavors of your region. Not only does supporting these wineries boost the local economy, but it also allows you to savor and appreciate the diverse flavors that your community has to offer. Let's raise a glass and discover the best wineries near you!
Supporting local wineries extends beyond enjoying a glass of wine. By visiting and purchasing from these wineries, you contribute to the growth of the local economy and help small businesses thrive. Many local wineries prioritize sustainability in their winemaking practices, making your support good for your taste buds and the environment.
Moreover, buying wine directly from the winery is the most sustainable choice as a consumer. You reduce the carbon footprint of distribution by eliminating the need to transport the wine to a shop or restaurant.
Additionally, supporting local wineries allows you to experience your region's unique flavors and characteristics. These wineries often use grapes specific to your area, producing truly distinctive wines. By tasting and learning about these wines, you can develop a deeper appreciation for the flavors and culture of your community.
When choosing a local winery to visit, consider factors such as the types of wines you enjoy. Research wineries that specialize in the wines you're interested in tasting. Additionally, consider the ambiance you prefer, whether casual or upscale, and explore wineries that align with your preferences. Location is also crucial, so research the wineries' proximity and surrounding amenities to plan your visit effectively.
Before visiting a winery's tasting room, it's helpful to research ahead of time. Here are key details to consider:
As people become more environmentally conscious, sustainability in winemaking has gained significance. Many local wineries are actively reducing their environmental footprint and implementing sustainable practices.
Some wineries have embraced sustainable, organic, or biodynamic farming methods, while others utilize renewable energy sources like solar panels to power their production facilities. By supporting these wineries, you enjoy delicious wines and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Exploring the best wineries in your neighborhood is a fun and exciting way to support local businesses while discovering new flavors and experiences. By visiting local wineries, you enjoy delicious wine, support the local economy, preserve tradition, promote sustainability, and reduce carbon emissions.
Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir Blanc, and Pinot Gris stem from the remarkable Pinot Noir grape through clonal variations. While Pinot Blanc is crafted from white grapes and Pinot Noir Blanc from red grapes, it is essential to recognize that all three varieties are genetic clones of Pinot Noir. Despite their shared lineage, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris have developed distinct characteristics, dispelling the misconception that they are merely different-colored versions of the same grape. Delve into their flavor profiles and features to fully appreciate the nuances within the Pinot family.
Pinot Blanc, a distinguished clone of Pinot Noir, emerges from a genetic mutation that resulted in a captivating divergence. This mutation changes the color of the grape skins and alters the chemistry, flavor profile, and ripening characteristics. Renowned for its elegance, Pinot Blanc showcases a remarkable character both in the vineyard and the glass.
Despite being a cool climate grape, Pinot Blanc exhibits a late-ripening nature, making it one of the last grapes harvested in the Willamette Valley. Thriving in cool climates, these grapes embody the essence of freshness and purity, resulting in wines of exceptional quality.
Delight your senses with Pinot Blanc's enchanting flavor profile. Immerse yourself in the bright and refreshing notes of zesty lemon, succulent pear, crisp apple, and delicate apricot. As you savor this exquisite wine, you'll discover a subtle undertone of almonds, complemented by a compelling stony minerality that adds depth and complexity to each sip.
Explore the captivating nuances of Pinot Blanc and discover why it stands out as a distinguished white wine. From its unique genetic mutation to its late-ripening nature, this wine embodies the artistry and craftsmanship behind this exceptional grape variety. Indulge in its flavors and allow its graceful character to leave a lasting impression.
Pinot Gris, another distinguished clone derived from the illustrious Pinot Noir, offers a captivating expression of white wine that intrigues and delights. Born from a partial DNA color sequence mutation, this unique varietal manifests with stunning mauve hues in the skins at harvest, adding an alluring visual charm to the wine.
While Pinot Noir is known for its red wine characteristics, Pinot Gris takes on a different persona as a white wine. It showcases its distinct personality, setting it apart from its red counterpart.
Our cool climate single-vineyard Pinot Gris reflects the terroir and vintage, just like any other wine we produce. With its tight, dense clusters and earlier ripening than Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris thrives in our vineyard. The wines it produces are bright, with bracing acidity and steely minerality. We prefer our Pinot Gris to be dry, and the fruit from our old vines imparts impressive varietal character.
As Pinot Gris unveils its captivating flavor profile, prepare to embark on a sensory journey. Indulge in the luscious notes of ripe apple and juicy pear, interwoven with a delicate touch of honey that caresses the palate. As you explore further, you'll encounter hints of flint and spearmint, enhancing the complexity and depth of this remarkable wine. Citrus accents and the subtle essence of peach contribute to its vibrant and refreshing character, ensuring a truly memorable tasting experience.
Delve into the world of Pinot Gris and discover a wine that effortlessly balances richness and freshness, embodying the artistry and craftsmanship behind this exceptional grape variety. Compare Pinot Gris with its red counterpart, Pinot Noir, to uncover the unique characteristics that make each one stand out. Whether you're a Pinot Gris fan or exploring the differences between Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, this journey promises to enlighten your taste buds and expand your wine appreciation.
Pinot Noir Blanc, an exquisite white wine derived from dark-skinned Pinot Noir grapes, unveils a mesmerizing expression that defies expectations. With its pristine clarity and radiant pale hues, Pinot Noir Blanc is a testament to the remarkable artistry of winemaking.
Crafted with precision, the clusters of Pinot Noir grapes are delicately handpicked and swiftly pressed immediately after harvest, limiting the extraction of color from the skins. This delicate handling ensures that the resulting wine exudes a captivating pale appearance reminiscent of liquid sunlight in a glass.
Prepare to be enchanted as you delve into the world of Pinot Noir Blanc. Immerse your senses in its alluring aroma, where crisp apple notes interplay with the subtle essence of peach. Discover the delicate nuances of clover and honeydew melon that dance on the palate, accompanied by a whisper of jasmine that adds a touch of elegance to each sip.
Pinot Noir Blanc embodies the essence of white wine sophistication, striking a harmonious balance between its vibrant fruit flavors and refreshing acidity. Its exquisite flavor profile and supple texture make it an ideal companion for culinary delights or a delightful indulgence.
Experience Pinot Noir Blanc's sheer elegance and ethereal charm, where the boundaries of white wine expression are redefined. Allow this exceptional wine to transport you to a realm of pure bliss and embrace the allure of its white wine allure.
In conclusion, the Pinot family presents a captivating array of flavors and endless exploration. Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir Blanc beautifully exemplify the versatility and depth inherent in this esteemed grape lineage. We invite you to embark on a tasting adventure, immersing yourself in these exceptional wines' intricate nuances and remarkable characteristics.
At Kramer, we are dedicated to curating a diverse selection of white wines tailored to Pinot Noir enthusiasts and those seeking Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris delights. Our collection proudly features the exquisite Pinot Noir Blanc and the captivating Pinot Gris, showcasing the remarkable versatility of this unique grape family. Whether you appreciate Pinot Noir Blanc's refined elegance or Pinot Gris's enchanting flavors, we are committed to delivering exceptional quality and creating an unforgettable wine experience for red and white wine enthusiasts.
*Please note: If you are intrigued by the red wine expression of Pinot Noir, stay tuned for our upcoming discussions, where we will delve into the captivating world of Pinot Noir red wines.
Are you a fan of sparkling wines? If so, you're in luck because Kramer Vineyards produces some of the best Oregon sparkling wines! Here are five fizzy facts that make our wines stand out:
The Kramer estate vineyard.
Our Celebrate sparkling wines are unique varietal wines, including Pinot Noir, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, and Müller-Thurgau. We believe that each grape's flavor is best showcased on its own. The effervescence of our Celebrate wines only enhances the natural flavors and aromas of these varietals, resulting in a refreshing and perfect sparkling wine for any occasion.
Due to the size of our vineyard and winery, we've always taken a small-batch approach to winemaking. With only 22 acres of estate vines and 27 individual blocks, we carefully track and evaluate each block to ensure the fruit is of the highest quality for wines of this style. This approach means we're always working with tiny lots, allowing us to pay close attention to each batch and ensure that our wines are of the highest quality.
Our Celebrate sparkling wines are not aged for extended periods like traditional method sparkling wines. Instead, we use a modern proprietary method to release the wines only a few months after harvest. This preserves the fresh, lively character of the grapes and results in a wine bursting with flavor.
Most force-carbonated sparkling wines are injected with carbon dioxide on the bottling line, producing coarse, soda-pop-like bubbles. We believed a smaller bubble was possible with force carbonation. In 2004, owner Keith Kramer developed the system we use today. A week before bottling, the wine is transferred into a custom-built tank for pressurization. We chill the wine while gradually raising the pressure, resulting in tiny, plentiful bubbles. Our Celebrate sparkling wines are unique, high quality, and available at a lower price point than traditional sparkling wines due to the abbreviated aging process.
We prioritize sustainable winemaking practices to minimize our environmental impact at Kramer Vineyards. Our vineyard is dry-farmed, meaning we rely solely on natural rainfall to irrigate our vines, reducing water usage. Additionally, we use a lighter glass bottle for our Celebrate sparkling wines, which has a lower carbon footprint than traditionally made sparkling wines. From using solar panels to power our winery to implementing water conservation techniques, we're committed to preserving the beautiful Oregon wine country for generations.
Kramer Vineyards produces some of the finest Oregon sparkling wines, and we're proud to share them with you. From our 100% varietal wines to our small-batch, handcrafted approach to winemaking, we strive to create wines of exceptional quality and character. We invite you to visit our tasting room and experience our sparkling wines for yourself. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through a tasting and share our passion for sustainable winemaking. Take advantage of this opportunity to discover some of the best sparkling wines in Oregon. Come and see us today!
Celebrate Rosé of Pinot Noir
These vines have the same DNA
Pinot Noir clones are genetically identical vines propagated asexually from a "mother vine." In other words, they are vine cuttings taken from a single, original vine and grown to produce new vines. These new vines are identical to the mother vine and to one another, which allows winemakers to plant vineyards with consistent grape quality and characteristics. Pinot Noir clones can vary in their susceptibility to disease, tolerance of climatic conditions, and flavor profiles. Understanding the different features of each clone is crucial for me, as I am always looking to produce wines of the highest quality that reflect the unique terroir of our vineyard.
Pinot Noir clones can arise through spontaneous mutations in the grapevine's DNA. These mutations create genetic variations that can change the vine's physical characteristics, such as the size or shape of its leaves or clusters of grapes. Winemakers often select and propagate clones that exhibit desirable traits, such as resistance to disease, tolerance of climatic conditions, or unique flavor profiles.
Pinot Noir has been cultivated for thousands of years, which has allowed numerous mutations to occur and be identified. While most clones originate from France, unique clones have also been identified in Switzerland, California, Oregon, and other regions. The mapping of the Pinot Noir genome in 2007 has further expanded our understanding of the genetic makeup of this grape variety and the potential for discovering new clones in the future.
Pinot Noir clones are continually evolving, and new clones may arise from spontaneous mutations. There is a possibility that the Kramer Vineyards may have a unique clone of Pinot Noir that has yet to be identified. This potential for discovery is part of what makes working with Pinot Noir clones so exciting for us.
Jumping genes are present in almost all living cells. 50% of the human genome are jumping genes; up to 90% of the maize genome are jumping genes!
You don't have to be a wine expert to appreciate the impact of clones on the flavor and aroma of Pinot Noir. Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are also clones of Pinot Noir, created through mutations that affect the skin color of the grape. These mutations are so distinctive that they're often considered distinct grape varieties. We'll dive deeper into these varietals in another post. But for now, consider this: if you can tell the difference between white and red wine, your palate is expert enough to explore the nuances of Pinot Noir clones. By understanding the various clones, you can better appreciate the unique qualities of different Pinot Noir wines. For more on this topic, see Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir Blanc: What's the Difference?
The answer for winegrowers and winemakers is simple: it allows us to choose the best clones for our specific growing conditions and wine style. For wine drinkers, knowing about clones can enhance your appreciation and understanding of the wine you're enjoying. At Kramer Vineyards, we grow nine clones of Pinot Noir and make single-clone wines from several different clones of Pinot Noir. Let's take a closer look at the characteristics of the main clones in our vineyard.
The Pommard clone, originating from Pommard, a village in the Burgundy region of France, has made a new home in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, where our Kramer Estate vineyard is located. It has been an essential part of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir's history and reputation, as it was one of the first clones available in the US. It is planted in many of the region's oldest vineyards, including at Kramer Estate. This clone produces medium-sized clusters, often with shoulders, and is well-suited to the cool, moist climate of the Willamette Valley.
At Kramer Vineyards, the Pommard clone was the first clone of Pinot Noir planted in 1984 and remains a significant component in many of our Pinot Noir wines, including our Estate, Cardiac Hill, Rebecca's Reserve, and Heritage Pinot Noir wines. The grapes of the Pommard clone produce balanced and elegant wines suitable for aging, which is why it is still an essential part of our vineyard. When people think of what Oregon Pinot Noir tastes like, the Pommard clone is often a big part of that reputation.
Discover the allure of Dijon 115, a prized Pinot Noir clone hailing from Burgundy's University in Dijon. Recognized as part of the esteemed Dijon clones, Dijon 115 offers a captivating combination of early ripening, small berries bursting with intense flavors. Renowned for its finesse and balance, wines crafted from Dijon 115 grapes leave a lasting impression. At Kramer Vineyards, we were among the early adopters of this clone, planting it alongside Pommard in our esteemed Rebecca's Reserve block back in 1992. Today, Dijon 115 remains an integral component in our esteemed Cardiac Hill and Estate Pinot Noirs, showcasing its remarkable attributes year after year. Unlike other clones known for specific characteristics like spiciness or tannin, Dijon 115 stands apart as a complete wine, offering unparalleled balance and elegance. Our decision to embrace this clone was influenced by a renowned winemaker from Burgundy who attested to its surging popularity. Experience the magic of Dijon 115 and savor the harmonious symphony it brings to each glass.
Originating from the prestigious University in Dijon, Burgundy, Dijon 777 is an early ripening clone that gives rise to small clusters and berries, culminating in wines of intense color and pronounced tannins. Notably characterized by a captivating spiciness, Dijon 777 has become a sought-after choice for blending. Our journey with this numbered clone began in 2001 when we first planted it at Kramer Estate, integrating it harmoniously into our distinguished Estate Pinot Noir. Owner and winegrower Keith Kramer holds a special affinity for the fiery allure of Dijon 777. In 2019, inspired by a neighboring block consistently producing exceptional fruit quality, he made the bold decision to graft 0.6 acres of Muller-Thurgau to Dijon 777, tripling its acreage. The result? A tribute to the clone's undeniable character and the promise of extraordinary wines to come. Join us on this spicy exploration and experience the distinct charm of Dijon 777 in every sip.
In conclusion, while clonal selection is essential in producing exceptional Pinot Noir, it is just one piece of the puzzle. The terroir and microclimate of a vineyard site can significantly impact how a particular clone expresses itself in the resulting wine. At Kramer Vineyards, we have seen this firsthand in our 22-acre vineyard. If you're interested in exploring the unique characteristics of each clone, we invite you to visit the single clone Pinot Noir section of our online store. Here you can experience each clone's distinct personality and flavors and gain a deeper appreciation for the complex interplay of factors that create truly exceptional wines.
Piquette is a unique and refreshing drink that offers a delightful alternative to traditional wines. Crafted from pressed grape skins, Piquette is a lower-alcohol, lightly sparkling beverage with a vibrant flavor profile. At Kramer Vineyards, we have embraced this age-old winemaking technique to create a fizzy and refreshing drink that showcases our commitment to sustainability and innovation.
To create our Piquette, we repurpose the grape skins that remain after the juice extraction process. These grape skins are rehydrated, allowing the release of sugars and flavors. After steeping for four days, the mixture undergoes gentle pressing, resulting in a beautiful rosy hue. The must is then fermented in stainless steel tanks, creating the delightful effervescence that characterizes Piquette.
"I saw a creative challenge in capturing so many trends with Piquette. It is the intersection of rosé, sparkling, low sugar, lower alcohol, single-serving packaging—and it's adjacent to the cider, craft beer, and hard seltzer categories." said second-generation winemaker Kim Kramer.
Our Piquette delights the palate with a harmonious blend of flavors. Experience the compelling notes of pomegranate, cran-raspberry, rhubarb, and tart apple, complemented by subtle hints of earth and spice. Each sip of Piquette is a refreshing and vibrant journey, offering a unique taste experience unlike traditional wines.
Piquette is a versatile beverage that can be enjoyed in various ways. Serve it chilled for a refreshing pick-me-up, or mix it into your favorite spritzer or sangria recipes for a flavor twist. It pairs wonderfully with light, summery foods like seafood, salads, grilled vegetables, or light appetizers. With its lower alcohol content, Piquette is perfect for daytime events or as a lighter alternative to wine.
Be part of the Piquette revival and experience the joy of this unique and sustainable beverage. Whether planning a picnic, a leisurely day outdoors, or a social gathering, Piquette is the perfect companion. Celebrate the essence of vineyard life with this refreshing and easy-to-drink option that captures the spirit of innovation and sustainability.
Kramer Vineyards invites you to explore the delights of Piquette. Join us in embracing this ancient winemaking practice, reimagined for modern tastes. Visit our vineyard and savor the vibrant flavors of Piquette. This refreshing beverage embodies our commitment to sustainability and craftsmanship.
Note: To learn more about the emerging trend of lower-alcohol Piquette in Oregon, we recommend reading "Is lower-alcohol Piquette Oregon's next big wine craze?".
Kramer Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery in its second generation. For nearly 40 years, they have been growing grapes at their sustainably farmed vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Kramer specializes in producing cool climate white, red, and sparkling wines at their property in Gaston, 30 miles west of Portland.
Müller-Thurgau is a white grape variety created by Dr. Hermann Müller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau in the 1880s. The goal was to cross Riesling, capturing its rich, complex flavors with the earlier ripening Sylvaner. However, neither of these goals was achieved, nor was Sylvaner crossed with Riesling. DNA fingerprinting has revealed that Müller-Thurgau is a cross of Riesling and a grape called Madeleine Royale. As it turns out, the latter is a cross of Pinot and Trolliger. Most widely planted in Germany, Müller-Thurgau is also found in Austria, Northern Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Japan, and of course, the United States.
In 1980, vineyard owner Keith Kramer took a viticulture class at Erath every other Saturday for three months. The instructor Al Holstein, had some Müller-Thurgau planted in his vineyard. This was very exciting to another student in the class, who peppered Holstein with questions about the grape. Keith was not very interested in Müller-Thurgau initially. Still, the guy “made such a stink about it” that when the Kramers had an opportunity to buy fruit from Courting Hill Vineyard a few years later, they decided to try it. That first wine was a very fruity, off-dry white with enough potential that they went ahead and procured some starts from Sokol Blosser in the mid-1980s.
Müller-Thurgau was among the first wines in our tasting room for our grand opening in 1990, and it quickly gained a following. We increased the acreage in our estate vineyard to three, which does not sound like much, but this variety routinely produces 4-6 tons to the acre, double or triple the yield compared to Pinot Noir. As our production grew, we experimented with assorted styles, including sparkling wine, a dessert wine, a dry barrel-fermented wine, and a late-harvest wine. The stainless, fruity Estate bottling is our most popular wine, followed by the Celebrate sparkling wine.
It is easy to see why Muller-Thurgau is a tasting room favorite. In a region full of Pinot Gris and, to a lesser extent, Chardonnay and Riesling, Müller-Thurgau stands out. Its unique flavor profile with starfruit, lychee, melon, hints of orange blossom and gardenia, and gentle acidity with a sweet and sour effect on the palate makes it easy to sip. Plus, Müller ripens at lower sugar levels, so the alcohols in the finished wines are lower than many table wines, usually around 11%.
I never really gave a clonal choice too much thought until recently. As a second-generation winemaker with an established vineyard, our clonal selections were made many years before I decided to pursue a career in wine. Why focus on this aspect when so many variables are at play—soil type, elevation, vine density, vine age, slope, trellis system, own-rooted or grafted? Aside from the differences in ripening time, are the clones of Pinot Noir all that distinguishable, or is it trivia?
There are more available clones of Pinot Noir than any other grape variety. When we established our vineyard in 1984, three clones were available: Pommard, Wädenswil, and Gamay Beaujolais. The Dijon clones, such as 114, 115, 667, etc., began entering Oregon in the late 80s and early 90s. These clones may differ in several ways—cluster size and shape, berry size, color, early or late ripening, etc. Now there are over 50 clones of Pinot Noir available in the United States, and we’re up to 9 at our estate.
As interest in these new clones has increased, we began to study them more closely in our vineyard. The higher crop levels in 2014 led us to introduce a series of single clone wines of Pinot Noir: Dijon 115, Dijon 777, and Pommard. We followed similar winemaking protocols for these to allow for the most explicit clonal expression possible. The fruit was harvested by hand, and 25% whole clusters were layered on the bottom of 1-ton vats and topped with destemmed fruit. After a 5-day cold soak, fermentation began. The must was pumped over, punched down twice daily, and pressed at dryness. The wine was aged in neutral French oak barrels for 14 months and bottled.
It is too early to ascribe personalities to each of these clones based on one vintage. However, these three wines are quite different from one another, leading me to rethink my perspective on clonal significance. The Dijon 777 clone is remarkably spicy, with dark berry fruit and black tea. The Dijon 115 is far subtler, with a delicate earthiness and minerality. The Pommard is the closest to what I would describe as a classic Oregon Pinot Noir, but perhaps that’s due to my familiarity with our Pommard-dominant vineyard. With this series and those to come in future vintages, we hope to further our understanding of each clone in the vineyard and the cellar.
Kramer Vineyards celebrates its largest harvest in 30 years with a record-breaking offering of sparkling wine. Winemaker Kim Kramer's passion for sparkling wines, known for their precision, brings delight to wine lovers. To further celebrate, the family-owned winery will offer 14 sparkling wine releases.
“We’ve always loved sparkling wines. They are extremely challenging to make because they’re wines of such precision,” said Winemaker Kim Kramer, who’s been producing sparkling wines since the early 2000s. “It’s rewarding to see the delight these wines bring to people’s faces and to see them return for more.”
Dedicated to sharing the delight of its fizzy wines while quenching the thirst of a growing sparkling wine demographic, Kramer started its own sparkling wine club.
Kramer Vineyards is releasing a new collection of traditional method sparkling wines from its estate vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA to celebrate the bounty of the harvest. These wines are all bottle fermented and composed of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and/or Pinot Meunier. This traditional sparkling collection includes vintage and nonvintage Brut, NV Brut Reserve, NV Brut Blanc de Blancs, NV Brut Blanc de Noirs, and NV Brut Rose. Kramer has been experimenting with extended tirage sparkling wines, so expect to see those releases.
If you want more information about this topic, please get in touch with Kim Kramer at (503) 662-4545 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vintage 2017 opened with a severe winter followed by a long, rainy spring. With five months of overcast skies and very few sunbreaks, the vines were slow to start. We observed over 50% budbreak by April 28, a bit late for our vineyard. The canopy started filling in when the sun finally came out in late May. Summer weather fully arrived the third week of June, and with temperatures in the high 80s, bloom rapidly occurred during the fourth week. Conditions were ideal for this growth milestone, contributing to excellent fruit set—the best we have seen since the 2009 and 2014 vintages. Veraison started on August 7, hitting the 50% mark two weeks later.
With our fullest crop in years, and a warm and dry forecast, we were on track for a big harvest. 2017 had some catching up to do for heat units, and by early September our GDDs were even with 2016. This, combined with low disease pressure, and an anticipated late September/early October harvest contributed to our decision to do minimal cluster thinning. In these conditions, carrying a heavier crop load forces the vine to work harder, slowing down ripeness, resulting in more balance.
We started to notice a shift in flavor development after Labor Day Weekend, and began sampling the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay blocks for the sparkling harvest soon after. The sparkling harvest began on September 15, with the Pinot Meunier. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay came in over the next several days. This was by far our largest sparkling yield, bringing in 10.3 tons from the estate, with an additional 9 tons from other sites. The increased crop load was due a combination of excellent conditions during bloom and fruit set, to our decision to thin minimally, and also due to heavier cluster weights. In a typical harvest, clusters from mature Pinot varieties will weigh `150 to 200 grams. In 2017, average cluster weights were closer to 300 grams, and some, as in the case of the Grüner Veltiner, tipped the scales at nearly two pounds! This trend would continue throughout much of the harvest.
Much of the rest of late September and early October was dedicated to harvesting and pressing grapes for white wine production—Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner, and Muller-Thurgau. Pinot Noir from warmer sites started coming in on October 9, with our estate fruit being harvested in mid-October. Before long, every fermentation vessel in the winery was full, and we had to purchase a few more tanks and vats to accommodate the extra fruit. Harvest concluded October 28, with the Carmine pick. By then, we were at full capacity—every tank, vat, barrel, and carboy was full. Overall, we brought in nearly 94 tons of grapes—20 more tons than our biggest year to date in 2014.
Once the fruit is picked, it is delivered to the crush pad for processing. For white and sparkling base wines, the grapes are sorted then pressed; for red and roses, the fruit is sorted and destemmed. This year, the fruit was in excellent condition, so most of the sorting required was to remove leaves and other non-grape material. The sound quality and overall ripeness of the Pinots led us to continue with whole cluster experimentation in higher percentages than ever before. We also expanded the number of clones of Pinot Noir we are working with to nine total.
A combination of cool October nights and whole cluster fermentation extended maceration in the red ferments to an average of 30 days. We typically press at dryness, and that usually happens on a 10-14-day schedule when the fruit is all destemmed. With whole cluster ferments, sugars are trapped in the berries, limiting the sugars available to the yeast, prolonging fermentation. This meant that our fermentation management routine was extended by several weeks, and pushed our pressing dates further into November. Our last press was on the day before Thanksgiving, November 22. This is extraordinarily late compared to the last few years, when we were picked, pressed, and barreled down by mid-October.
For the white wines, fermentations were steady and healthy. Tank space is always a concern in years where yields are high, and in some cases, we elected to ferment in stainless or neutral barrels. In addition to barrel fermented Chardonnay, we also have Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir Blanc wintering over in barrels. These vessels will be stirred bimonthly through the spring, and either blended in with their tank counterpart to enhance mouthfeel and complexity, or be bottled on their own in the fall of 2018.
As we put another harvest behind us, the 2017s are wintering over in tanks and barrels. After the New Year, we’ll begin to taste the wines individually, and start to make blending decisions and form bottling plans. The first wines of the vintage will be available in a few months, some won’t be bottled until the spring of 2019. We are looking forward to what this record-setting harvest has in store.