Harvest in Willamette Valley

This year I decided to do as much hands on, boots on the ground harvest time as possible.

Last week I posted photos from my journalistic deep dive of 9 days shadowing the team led by Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman in the Sta Rita Hills and Eola-Amity Hills. Together they’re directing Domaine de la Cote, Sandhi, and Evening Land.

After leaving Lompoc, in Santa Barbara County, I drove north to the Dundee Hills in Willamette Valley where I stayed while working over the bend at the Carlton Winemakers’ Studio. In wanting to go deep in harvest this year I chose to start first as a journalist (see last week’s post) and then work as an intern. But working as an intern was tricky – I needed a place I really could really do the work but without being attached to any particular winery. The Carlton Winemakers’ Studio was a perfect option. There I got to do some of everything involved in the winemaking process, see lots of different approaches and fruit from all over both Oregon and parts of Washington. (The early signs look like good harvest quality.)

At the Studio winemakers can be as involved or not as they want. Some are there only to use the space and equipment while others are there in a full custom crush capacity having their wine made for them. There is also every possible scenario in between of getting help while also doing the work yourself. As a result, the Studio itself needs interns. So, I signed up and worked as an intern for two weeks.

After I was in Willamette Valley for just a couple more days to finish up writing work before hitting the road back to California to get in those vineyards and work on an article about Napa Valley wine.

Here’s a look at the Instagram collection I made while in Oregon.

 

Road Pho is the best pho. #headingnorth

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First stop Portland: Heart. ❤️ #coffee

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View from the top: checking Brix levels on Chenin from atop the three stack. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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View from the sorting line: full country. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Evening view from the sorting line: country sunset. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Field note observations on the Great American Earwig: they need some moisture but not too much. They do not come in on very cold fruit, nor on fruit from warmer sites. They do come in on fruit from moderately cooler sites . They seem to like fruit that is not excessively acidic. They go either under things or all the way to the top of things. Some portion of them can definitely survive a light press load but perhaps not the hard press. A high portion can definitely survive the destemmer. When you smash them they smell peppery. Have not determined yet how they do through laundry. They eat aphids so are beneficial. They tend to group near gardens. They are all over me. They like my hair. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Punch downs up high on Pinot Noir. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Exceptional Pinot coming in this morning. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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So, this is good. That is all. #willamettevalley #vermouthfromwillametteforthewin #vermouth

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Yum. #willamettevalley @wvwines

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Doing cold soak on Pinot destemmed last night. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Behold the wonders of organic farming. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Doing pH and TA measurements on Pinot noir. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Brilliant and hilarious substitute. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Classic Oregon: marion berry pie for harvest lunch. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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I have always like pressure washing. That is all. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Moving Pinot Gris between tanks. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Sample tasting Euro press versus Basket press cuts on Chardonnay. #willamettevalley @eyrievineyards @wvwines

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Steak and champagne. Harvest perfect pairing. Thank you, love. #willamettevalley

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Post Punch downs prime palm reading opportunity. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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All about roses, so pretty and delicious. #willamettevalley @remywines @wvwines

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And there it is, the close of almost four weeks of harvest. One of my goals for the year was to spend harvest as boots on the ground, hands in as possible. In Lompoc I spent a week and a half shadowing the team led by @sashimoorman and @rajatparr joining in on cellar work as part of better understanding how their views of wine inform their winemaking philosophy and then become tangible choices through vintage and harvest. It was a great opportunity to continuously move between the big picture view, through interviews and discussions while also tasting, and the decisions of actual winemaking. Sashi and I have had an on going conversation about his winemaking views for several years now and diving in so fully was the best next step to give that conversation traction. I am grateful for the generosity and trust he and Raj showed in letting me truly see what they do. From Lompoc I drove north to Willamette to work at the Carlton Winemakers Studio. Anthony King (here second front from left) knew I wanted to work harvest so when he realized their team at the Studio needed help during the peak of the season he called to ask if I’d join them as an intern. Shown here is the team I got to be part of for two weeks at the Studio – from left, Ben, Anthony, Christina, myself, and Jeff in the back. Anthony, Jeff and Ben were excellent teachers and Christina a pleasure to work with. I was glad to reconnect with the strength and endurance I was raised with commercial fishing through the brute work of wine harvest, inspired to be part of a team again and reassured too to have the time this last month to give all this persistent study I’ve been doing in wine these last years further grounding. I really dislike the idea of being full of shit and tend to be overly thorough in whatever I do to resolve that. More than that though I just love knowing how things work and value full immersion as learning. I’ll never believe, I think, that I know much when it comes to wine but I am hugely grateful for the patience, generosity, humor, hard work and camaraderie shown me by the team in Lompoc and here. I miss you guys. Hugs to you all from the road #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Thoughts from tasting samples today made from a vineyard I have visited again and again…

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To check out how my harvest in the Sta Rita Hills and Eola-Amity Hills went, read more about it here: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2016/10/10/harvest-in-sta-rita-hills-and-eola-amity-hills/

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