September 2019 | In the Vineyard
September is an anxious time for Vineyard owners. We all are hoping for optimum harvest conditions; perfectly ripened fruit, warm dry autumn days and a crew that is ready to pick when we are – an ideal harvest scenario.
This year Three Feathers Vineyard looked pretty good; disease-free, unlike other vineyards in the valley with mold issues, with fruit that was progressing according to schedule and warm dry weather.
Then on the 8th of September, we got some rain. That’s nice. The rain washed off the dust and the plants got watered – not a problem, right? But ever since that day, we experienced cooler temperatures and intermittent rain, even a few downpours.
Rain at harvest season creates problems with ripening sugars in the grapes. Every time it rains, the sugars are diluted and intense flavors reduced. It takes several succeeding days of dry weather to get the sugars back where they were before. The possibility of rot or damaged fruit increases. As the fruit hangs on the vines the birds become an issue. Cooler temperatures can put the plants into dormancy and they never get to the point that we hope for.
We didn’t expect to pick until the end of September or early October so we will waited, watched, tasted and tested.
October 2, 2019 | Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat
The harvest season in Oregon has been a challenging one with cold temperatures, occasional pouring rain and flocks of hungry birds. We have all been doing a balancing act between getting our fruit to ripen as in previous, warmer years, and keeping the fruit from spoiling or getting eaten.
There are few options for preventing the bird predation- netting is costly and time consuming, bird cannons annoy the neighbors as well as us, and decoys don’t fool any of them for long. There is the option of hiring a falconer (bring back jousting as well!). Basically you just have to hope you get the grapes picked before the birds get them all.
Today we succeeded in avoiding the rain, rot, birds and freezing temps and have completed the harvest in Three Feathers. Pickers arrived at dawn and swarmed the vineyard with their buckets – plucking Victory from the Jaws of Defeat. It took no time at all to fill the bins with our succulent Pinot Noir. Christine picked a small crop of Pinot Gris and kept an eye on the progress. David, Scott and Victor moved bins with our big New Holland tractor.
We are satisfied, having avoided mildew that plagued other vineyards and brought our grapes in despite all the issues. The 2019 Vineyard season is over and it was not “for the birds”.