It’s now very clear that 2011 was a very successful harvest providing us with stellar quality wines. What a waiting game it was. We started our harvest on October 18th, tying by the exact same day as the record for the latest harvest at Stoller vineyards that we set in 2010. Miraculously the weather cooperated and we were able to slowly but steadily bring all our sections of fruit in over a two-week span.
The sugar levels were at an all time low; brix’s for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay averaging 21 across the board with many lower than that.  The alcohol for our 2011 Pinot’s will be under 13 percent, also a record low. Stems were brown, flavors were intense. I think we have what we have always wanted; intense fruit, ample structure, and low alcohol.  I just tasted numerous barrels and am very excited if you can not tell.
The wines are all now in barrel or in tank and we are very pleased with what we have.  We harvested a total of 182 tons of grapes.  154 tons (approximately 8500 cases) of Pinot, 20 tons (1300 cases) of Chardonnay, and 3 tons of Riesling, 3 tons of Tempranillo and 2.2 tons of Syrah. Even the Tempranillo and Syrah came in tasting great and are shaping into lovely wines.
This vintage proves that Pinot Noir loves the cooler temperate growing seasons that Oregon can provide.

International Pinot Noir celebration coordinated the making of this short movie on the Miracle vintage of 2011; I think it sums it up.

http://vimeo.com/33185301

More to come on the wines and also on our plans for growth this year.  Lots of new things on the horizon.

Cheers,

Melissa

 

We have officially started harvest of 2011 here at Stoller as of last Thursday.  We brought in 15 tons of Pinot Noir planted in 2007.  Yesterday we picked and pressed 4.5 tons of young vine Chardonnay.  Today we wait.  Coming out of the coldest summer in 50 years here in the Willamette Valley it goes without saying the grapes are behind average in their development.  I posted enough about unusual weather last year. This year it seemed almost no surprise to see the forecast.  July, rain, 65 degrees.  Fortunately for us we had a beautiful September with temps reaching the 90′s for several weeks to make us Oregonians feel like we actually had a summer.  Now, mid October, we are looking at grapes that are beginning to taste great and need a few more dry days to get to where we want them.  It looks like we will get that over the next week with a string of days with sun predicted.  There has been a few rumblings lately of a terrible vintage for Oregon from nervous growers.  I am optimistic that we can make some stellar wines this year if mother nature cooperates. Never have I seen brix levels as low as they are (19 and 20′s) coupled with beautiful flavors and maturing seeds.  A few more days of hang time and we can be looking to make wines with intense flavors, ample acidity and low alcohol, very similar to 2010.

Today we started bottling our 4800 case blend of the 2010 JV Pinot Noir.  A perfect bottling day; mid 70′s (nice change from over 100 degrees last year), supplies all here and a solid hard-working crew.   This wine will not see the retail market for another 2 years and will age nicely in the interim.  The 2010 JV Pinot Noir is the style of Pinot I most prefer to drink.  It is restrained.  The nose hints of red fruits wound in earth. The flavors are of berry and some spice, with brightness that is linear throughout the wine.  It is not a heavy, rich, fruity wine however it reveals layers of fruit  in the glass. I am really looking forward to seeing what it will be like in a years time and enjoying it with a nice meal. 

It has been a very similar growing season to last years, the difference is this year has been even cooler.  We experienced bloom in the vineyard over the fourth of July weekend which is approximately 4 weeks later than normal.  The rule of thumb in the vineyard is that harvest will come approximately 100-120 days after bloom occurs so that leads to a late October start for us. Definitely a gamble with the weather.  We made lovely wines in a late season last year so I am ready for a repeat in 2011. 

Across the pond in Burgundy they are anticipating their earliest harvest in history. With months of very warm weather they have grapes with climbing sugars and full color in many sites.  I was lucky enough to visit Burgundy early june and was quite surprised to see clusters in their vineyards with tiny green berries in (much of what we are seeing in our lower plantings currently) while at that time we had not yet much shoot growth.

Ah, the nuances and nuisances  of mother nature.

This weekend is the  IPNC   25th anniversary where winemakers from around come together to pour, discuss and enjoy Pinot Noir.  The ever-changing vintage conditions and the finicky complex nature of this grape  brings people together over the 3 day weekend . I look forward to the inspiration.

Though it might not seem like it, we’ve had just enough sunshine and warmth to signal our vines to leave dormancy and awaken to the coming growing season. Budbreak is upon us, and the vines are starting to grow again. It begins here at Stoller at our lower elevations and slowly moves uphill. 70 degree weather is forecasted for this Sunday, and that should be enough for our season to begin in earnest.

Now that the vines are growing, we have a lot more work to do. We need to begin our powdery mildew prevention program by getting tractors out in the mud and spraying LIVE-approved fungicides. We also need to do manual work as well, “suckering” the vines, which is just removing unwanted growth buds swelling in inopportune places, like on the trunk or too close to another bud. We want the vines to be concentrating their energies growing where we can catch the elongating shoots in our trellis wires and capture the fruit at the end of the season.

Both April and March of this year have set new records for cold and wet weather, and we’re entering our growing season about 7 to 9 days behind the average. This doesn’t mean that with a warm spell we can’t catch up, but all signs at this point to a later-than-average harvest for 2011. If this means that the wines will be as good this year as those made last year, I’m all for these extended winters.

-Rob

Rob was kind enough to give a post this time around on whats happening in the vineyard, he’s a pretty good photographer too!

We have a new member of the team.  We hired Rob Schultz recently to manage our 178 acre and growing vineyard.  We are thrilled to have him dedicated to Stoller vineyards. Rob comes from a viticulture background and has a focused and sustainable mindset for his farming.  He was responsible for several hundred acres of organic and biodynamically farmed vineyards in California prior to moving to Oregon two years ago. He likes to think of farming as working with nature, not against it.  He lives on small farm with his fiancée Ann where they grow veggies and are raising a flock of small sheep that may end up in our vineyard some day. 

We posted a press release today which is here; http://www.winebusiness.com/weather/index.cfm?weatherLocationId=22

 

Last week I had the opportunity to do and online tasting with Gregory Dal Piaz from Snooth  here at the winery.  He was kind enough to brave the snow storm (luckily he is a seasoned New York driver) and set up in our conference room with his lap top and chat for an hour or so about Stoller wines and other wine topics while several dozen people across the US tasted the wines and joined in online and asked questions.  It was really a neat way of sharing a tasting experience. 

Here is a link to the tasting:   http://bit.ly/h0Vnn0

A big thanks to Greg, and an inspiring idea for the climate of wine tastings.

It’s a quiet time in the cellar for our 2010 wines, but quite the opposite for us people in the cellar and surrounding vicinities here at Stoller.  There is a sense of a fresh new start that comes with the new year that has us inspired to work and plan just what we are going to do with 2011.  For us production folks, over the next few weeks we will be examining some work we did last year in the cellar with our 2009 Pinot Noir.  For instance, we hand bottled 42 individual barrels from several different sections of the vineyard, which were specific coopers (brands) of  new french oak barrels.  We will be tasting through these wines to see just what a qualities each new oak barrel imparts on the wines. It will be helpful to make decisions regarding barrel purchases for 2011. 
Also in the area of wine tasting, we will be looking as a collection of tempranillos from Spain and from as local as Oregon, throwing our Stoller 2008 vintage tempranillo in the mix to educate us on the diversity and similarities.

We also have an intensive winery “retreat” at the end of the month that will be all about planning our strategy for sales, growth, and change. 

After this month ends, February will bring travel.  Early February I am headed to North Carolina to attend events and work with our distributer, Grapevine.  Mid February Noah is off to NYC to pour wines along with 49 plus other local wineries to promote Oregon wines and then to Ohio to work the market. 
More updates to come, wishing you all out there a very wonderful 2011!  And hey, please chime in once in awhile…..it would be great to hear some comments, questions, anything.  :) 

 Paper chromotography showing the malolactic progression in our 2010 Pinot Noirs.  Almost done.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.