The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

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The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#1 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 15th, 2020, 8:33 pm

I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of time on contrarian posts lately, and thought I would try to improve my karma by posting some photos and thoughts on the vintage so far.

Early season in the Willamette Valley can cover a wide range of weather. But while we saw some quirks, early season was mostly worry free. We, speaking just for Goodfellow, saw no frost pressure this spring. March ended rainy and blustery, but April was dry, mostly sunny and bud break was, in beautiful weather, second week at Durant, mid-month at Whistling Ridge and Fir Crest, and a week to ten days later at Temperance Hill.

The sunshine gave the vines a nice early boost, and kept leaf size moderate(perhaps counterintuitively, when skies are overcast the early growth from stored energy will produce bigger leaves).

May was one of the wettest on record and the combination of early sun and plentiful moisture produced remarkable green growth. We’re no-till, and the vineyard floor was as lush and emerald green as I have seen in a long time. We utilize no-till for a number of reasons such as: maintaining soil microbe populations and mycrorrhizal fungi, minimizing soil compaction, and creating competition for soil Nitrogen in early spring. This spring it was like walking on pillows down the rows(this is unusual). Cane growth was even and nicely balanced, not too vigorous and not too challenged.
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As May wound down, the cool rainy period extended into the first two weeks of June. For the natives and long time residents in Oregon, this was a return to “normal”. As a kid growing up, every year in the first and second week of June we would go to Rose Festival in Portland, and every year it would be a drizzly mess at Naito Park that would last right up until a day or two after the Grand parade. Like clockwork. Growing up I knew that summer didn’t begin until Rose Festival ended.

And this year, with Rose Festival cancelled for Covid-19, the rain stopped a few days after the time the Navy ships and carnival workers would have left.

So far, so good. Vine health looked excellent, and soils were a max for moisture heading into what is typically a three month drought. But bloom is also typically a June event. And Durant went into bloom around the 10th, Whistling Ridge around the 15th, and only Temperance Hill on the 25th was dry weather. The Willamette Valley doesn’t do monsoons or even typically see heavy rains in the late spring. Just on and off drizzle, but temps were cool and my worry was not.

With fingers crossed we waited out the cool, cloudy end of “Junuary”. As we crossed into July, the weather stayed cooler for the first week. July is usually a warmer month and we have only recently reached days consistently above 80F. Walking the vineyards on the 2nd, it was cloudy if not overcast. Bloom was at the tail end at Whistling Ridge, Fir Crest, and finished at Durant.
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We knew clusters would be modest in size, berries are loose, with significant amounts of hens and chicks. Yields for us, will be down significantly. But I am very excited for the vintage so far. The weather has been cool enough to allow lower yields, but plant energy and canopy are in excellent shape. The vintages with characteristics ssomewhat similar to this are 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2012. I’m sure some of the other winemakers will feel differently and are welcome to contradict me at their leisure.

Almost two weeks later, someone has finally turned on the sunshine and we’ve had a week of beautiful days. The breeze has also been turned on, cooling the vines, hopefully keeping mildew at bay, and making the walk through the vines downright enjoyable. Nights are still cool, easily into the 50s.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#2 Post by Scott Tallman » July 15th, 2020, 8:38 pm

Thanks for the report. Color me excited for the vintage, while enjoying a more typical PNW summer - first since 2011!
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#3 Post by Matt Mauldin » July 15th, 2020, 8:39 pm

My kind of summer weather!

Thanks for the post. Generally speaking, it sounds like if you have an ideal August and September you'll have wines that are nicely savory and structured.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#4 Post by Jim Anderson » July 15th, 2020, 8:42 pm

Definitely some necrotic conditions out there. Spotty situations where very few berries remain in clusters. Even in areas where this is not prevalent the clusters are not going to be dense. Tonnages/acre likely to be moderate with some places being okay and some being down. Depends. I dislike both 2004 and 2010 and am hopeful this is not in any way a vintage like those two. Maybe 2012 where spotty tonnages were normal and the harvest was incredible. That is the upside.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#5 Post by Jim Anderson » July 15th, 2020, 8:44 pm

Scott Tallman wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 8:38 pm
Thanks for the report. Color me excited for the vintage, while enjoying a more typical PNW summer - first since 2011!
2011 was atypical across the board. There was no reference point at all to it. Literally the latest harvest ever in Oregon. This is not 2011. The comparison is laughable. At this point in 2011 we were likely still in flowering. We are nearing bunch close right now. This is not 2011 by any measure, thankfully, at all.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#6 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 15th, 2020, 8:49 pm

Matt Mauldin wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 8:39 pm
My kind of summer weather!

Thanks for the post. Generally speaking, it sounds like if you have an ideal August and September you'll have wines that are nicely savory and structured.
That is definitely my hope. We’ll see what Mother Nature offers. And, in my opinion, because of the cool start I feel like we even have a little margin with the heat.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#7 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 15th, 2020, 8:56 pm

Jim Anderson wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 8:44 pm
Scott Tallman wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 8:38 pm
Thanks for the report. Color me excited for the vintage, while enjoying a more typical PNW summer - first since 2011!
2011 was atypical across the board. There was no reference point at all to it. Literally the latest harvest ever in Oregon. This is not 2011. The comparison is laughable. At this point in 2011 we were likely still in flowering. We are nearing bunch close right now. This is not 2011 by any measure, thankfully, at all.
Lol...I hope you noted that I did not mention 2011 in my list of similar vintages. We started bloom on July 5th at Whistling Ridge in 2011. Picking started last week of October. This year we’ll be picking by end of September.

And clusters in 2011 were big and so tightly packed that I saw berries popping off of them at Durant.

I think Scott was just saying that this summer has been cooler.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#8 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 15th, 2020, 9:23 pm

Jim Anderson wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 8:42 pm
Definitely some necrotic conditions out there. Spotty situations where very few berries remain in clusters. Even in areas where this is not prevalent the clusters are not going to be dense. Tonnages/acre likely to be moderate with some places being okay and some being down. Depends. I dislike both 2004 and 2010 and am hopeful this is not in any way a vintage like those two. Maybe 2012 where spotty tonnages were normal and the harvest was incredible. That is the upside.
It’s my feeling that having early season cover crop helps to absorb both excess nitrogen and water, two of the factors that seem to come into play with necrosis.(key word is helps) I don’t have any situations with necrotic conditions, but berries are not dense at any of our sites. I’m hoping to see 2-2.3 tons per acre, without thinning anything other than thirds, and disease vectors. But I may be optimistic in tonnage, the key word is hope.

2004 was a strange vintage late summer. Very hot July and August, lots of 90-95. Then a thunderstorm(1.5” of rain) and back to 95F the next day. 5-6 days later, another big thunderstorm and back to 95F. Berries were dry. Then swelled drastically with the first storm. A week of hot shrunk them back to normal, then the second rainstorm swelled them again. Vineyards had as much as 40% of crop with split skins. While it was too hot fpr botrytis, yellowjackets cleaned out much of the split berries and already low yields became miniscule for some vineyards. Easiest punchdowns of my career bar none. Skins split, ferments were juicy, and yeast ripped through ferment. Ferment temps peaked between 90-94. I opened a magnum of 2004 Souris for the Roanoke Valley WC crew in 2018 and was extremely proud of it. The Hommage was mostly young vine McMinnville fruit. Nothing I love all that much. I’ve had 04 PGC wines(Paley’s dinner with Ramesh) and they were my favorites that night.

2010 was much later and cooler, but some of the best wines of my middle career in the early stages. Soundly shut down now.

2012...I like about 10 wineries offerings so far, but you had to pull quickly or they got over ripe. That vintage taught me to be ready to pick early and make sure you have a crew.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#9 Post by Scott Tallman » July 15th, 2020, 11:01 pm

Marcus Goodfellow wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 8:56 pm
Jim Anderson wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 8:44 pm
Scott Tallman wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 8:38 pm
Thanks for the report. Color me excited for the vintage, while enjoying a more typical PNW summer - first since 2011!
2011 was atypical across the board. There was no reference point at all to it. Literally the latest harvest ever in Oregon. This is not 2011. The comparison is laughable. At this point in 2011 we were likely still in flowering. We are nearing bunch close right now. This is not 2011 by any measure, thankfully, at all.
Lol...I hope you noted that I did not mention 2011 in my list of similar vintages. We started bloom on July 5th at Whistling Ridge in 2011. Picking started last week of October. This year we’ll be picking by end of September.

And clusters in 2011 were big and so tightly packed that I saw berries popping off of them at Durant.

I think Scott was just saying that this summer has been cooler.
Def not a comment about vintages. Merely observing that this is the first of what I would consider a cooler NW summer since 2011, although not anywhere near as cool as that year. With that said, as a consumer I’ll happily take a vintage like 2011 or 2010 again, although I’m sure many winemakers would prefer not to deal with those conditions.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#10 Post by Todd Hamina » July 16th, 2020, 6:25 am

I love 2010.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#11 Post by John Peacock » July 16th, 2020, 7:27 am

After working the few days of harvest I did in 2010 and 2011 and it being very rainy, I bought a bunch of rain gear specifically to use during harvest. I haven't needed it since then. Very challenging harvests, but some very interesting wines.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#12 Post by Brian S t o t t e r » July 16th, 2020, 7:53 am

Thanks Marcus! Hoping for a steady rest of the summer and harvest.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#13 Post by Jim Anderson » July 16th, 2020, 8:03 am

After 3 days of 85-90 Cool Summer says, “Hold my beer.”
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Still a ways to go but we are nearing bunch close. In 2017 we had bunch close right at the end of July. We picked the first fruit on 9/10. If we have some heat with the generally looser clusters and lower tonnages we might even beat that. I have bottling on 9/13-15. And I’m only hiring 1 harvest employee instead of 5-6 to be able to have it as safe as possible. Could use a little cooperation from Mother Nature.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#14 Post by Todd Hamina » July 16th, 2020, 12:18 pm

Historically, years with their hottest day being in August are my favorites.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#15 Post by Sean S y d n e y » July 16th, 2020, 2:25 pm

Great posts and pictures, Marcus, thank you (and appreciate the other Oregonians chiming in as well)

Now, please get Canadian distribution, though I'm sure you don't need it to sell through.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#16 Post by Carlos Delpin » July 17th, 2020, 4:38 am

Thanks for the behind the scenes look. Very interesting.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#17 Post by Jim Stewart » July 17th, 2020, 5:09 am

Nice to hear from the troops on the ground. The cycle of growth. The whims of weather. Good luck to all of you grape growers and wine makers in OR this year. Cheers.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#18 Post by bruced » July 17th, 2020, 8:08 am

thank you for the informative posts (and the pictures).

Are wine grapes similar to table grapes in that the "chicks" are more bitter? If so, is there a ratio of chicks you all hope for/shoot for to achieve your desired taste profile, or are they considered detrimental and culled as much as practical?
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#19 Post by John H. » July 17th, 2020, 8:34 am

Thanks for the update! I'm always wondering how the weather I'm experiencing in Portland is translating in the vineyards.

Speaking of contrarianism, I saw where Jason Lett said a few weeks ago, in response to a comment about a potential "classic vintage in the making," that, "Summer weather is 5-10% of vintage expression. Pray for a cool dry fall!"

Anyone have their own hot take on how much of the vintage's character (in terms of the final wines) has taken shape?
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#20 Post by Jim Anderson » July 17th, 2020, 10:24 am

John H. wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 8:34 am
Thanks for the update! I'm always wondering how the weather I'm experiencing in Portland is translating in the vineyards.

Speaking of contrarianism, I saw where Jason Lett said a few weeks ago, in response to a comment about a potential "classic vintage in the making," that, "Summer weather is 5-10% of vintage expression. Pray for a cool dry fall!"

Anyone have their own hot take on how much of the vintage's character (in terms of the final wines) has taken shape?
I always tell people that it’s the last 30 days that mean anything.

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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#21 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 17th, 2020, 11:57 am

Jim Anderson wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 10:24 am
John H. wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 8:34 am
Thanks for the update! I'm always wondering how the weather I'm experiencing in Portland is translating in the vineyards.

Speaking of contrarianism, I saw where Jason Lett said a few weeks ago, in response to a comment about a potential "classic vintage in the making," that, "Summer weather is 5-10% of vintage expression. Pray for a cool dry fall!"

Anyone have their own hot take on how much of the vintage's character (in terms of the final wines) has taken shape?
I always tell people that it’s the last 30 days that mean anything.

Drive for show, putt for dough.
Meh...if it takes you 5 shots to make the green, the best putt in the world is still a bogey.

Given the issues the Valley was having with powdery mildew this time last year, it should probably be pointed out that if you lose your ball in grape growing-you’re done for the year. No putting necessary.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#22 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 17th, 2020, 12:41 pm

John H. wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 8:34 am
Thanks for the update! I'm always wondering how the weather I'm experiencing in Portland is translating in the vineyards.

Speaking of contrarianism, I saw where Jason Lett said a few weeks ago, in response to a comment about a potential "classic vintage in the making," that, "Summer weather is 5-10% of vintage expression. Pray for a cool dry fall!"

Anyone have their own hot take on how much of the vintage's character (in terms of the final wines) has taken shape?
I have a lot of respect for both Jason and Jim, but we grossly under respect the framework that’s laid out in the early season.

In large part because summer temperatures tend to be consistent, and if you stay vigilant, much of the process is generally smooth, we weigh that time period as less important than the few weeks of the growing season, where the variability of weather causes more sleeplessness for growers and cellar staff. Cluster physiology matters a lot, in my opinion. It’s an early difference maker, and I fail to see how weather at bloom can only be 5-10% of impact. Even less the idea that the last 30 day are 90-95% of expression. A game winning three pointer only matters if your team is down by 2 or less. However, that shot is what gets remembered and shown on the news.

But this year we do have a very positive framework in place. The loose clusters mean that disease pressure will be lessened. The smaller crop load insures that even with a currently cool summer we are unlikely to have a particularly late vintage. And a lot of what has already occurred sets us up for the potential to have wines with excellent concentration and still be balanced with flavor and acidity.

It’s extremely likely that being on point for picks will be absolutely necessary. Small crop and healthy canopy, would have the potential to elevate Brix quickly.


And while Jim may only like 2012, I like all of the vintages that have evolved from early seasons similar to this-regardless of how the last 30 days went. I would note that the last 30 days of 2010 were mostly in October, and the last 30 days of 2012 were mostly in September. Meaning that the days previous to the last thirty made quite a difference.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#23 Post by Vincent Fritzsche » July 17th, 2020, 12:45 pm

Great thread, thanks for starting it Marcus. I think you recapped things really nicely.

Looking back, this is the coolest season since 2012, which is mistakenly called a hot year. If you compare 2012 and 2002, heat accumulation was almost identical. It just got hot at the end in 2012, so things got overripe really quickly. Jim's right that the last 30 days really mean the most. Great years can be spoiled right at the end. But Marcus is right that even the best end might not make up for a rough summer. For me, I'll take pretty much anything as long as harvest weather is mild and cool.

I really like Todd's point about the best vintages seeing the hottest weather in August. I'll have to dig into that more but I like the idea. For me, the best vintages have cooler and or wetter springs that make sure we're not setting fruit too early. If day 40 from fruit set is in early July, hot summers seem to affect things different than if day 40 is closer or into August, where days are already getting a bit shorter and the intensity of summer is beginning to wane, even a bit. Perhaps more importantly, harvest in late September into October more likely will be cooler mornings, less intense heat if we see heat, compared to picking in early September. In 2012, we picked in early October but we had hot, dry east winds really dehydrating things. By contrast, in 2015 when we started picking on Labor Day, but we actually had a mild week that saved the sugar levels in the grapes from running away from us. I picked a lot in that window of Sept 5-10 in 2015. So there are exceptions, but I generally want fruit set in mid to later June and picking to be later September to early October.

bruced, on the hens and chicks question, no I don't believe bitterness is an issue. Really it cuts average cluster weights so that your yield per acre is down, perhaps by a lot. Some clones are predisposed to it, namely Swan, in part which is why Joe Swan selected it. I've long read that hens and chicks are prized in burgundy but I find them challenging sometimes because the chicks can turn to mush in rainy harvests and be a VA vector, or otherwise bring too much intensity, even jamminess, in the hottest years where they're like an overcooked thin cut of steak. When things are just right, then there's magic.

Final thought - though growers don't want to hear it, if there's ever a year where we should welcome a lighter crop, this is it.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#24 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 17th, 2020, 12:48 pm

bruced wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 8:08 am
thank you for the informative posts (and the pictures).

Are wine grapes similar to table grapes in that the "chicks" are more bitter? If so, is there a ratio of chicks you all hope for/shoot for to achieve your desired taste profile, or are they considered detrimental and culled as much as practical?
I don’t find them to be much more bitter. But sugars in wine grapes are significantly higher than in table grapes.

You can’t, to my knowledge, shoot for them. Hens and chicks happen for a range of reasons, this year most likely weather conditions at bloom. I generally enjoy the wines resulting from vintages where this occurred.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#25 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 17th, 2020, 12:57 pm

Vincent Fritzsche wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 12:45 pm
Great thread, thanks for starting it Marcus. I think you recapped things really nicely.

Looking back, this is the coolest season since 2012, which is mistakenly called a hot year. If you compare 2012 and 2002, heat accumulation was almost identical. It just got hot at the end in 2012, so things got overripe really quickly.

In 2012, we picked in early October but we had hot, dry east winds really dehydrating things.
It was really hot at the end of 2002, and things got over ripe quickly. We picked a ton of fruit from Maurice Colada’s place after he had more fruit than Russ could take. Finished abv on the fruit was 14.9%. (And my first serious lesson that pick date was everything)

In 2012, we started picking September 12, and were done with Pinot Noir by the 20th. So your last 30 days are very different from mine.

I would guess that makes these conversations a bit harder to pin down.

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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#26 Post by Vincent Fritzsche » July 17th, 2020, 1:05 pm

Are you sure those pick dates are from 2012? I was literally on a sales trip in NY around the 25th and the SE Wine Collective had the pre-harvest grand opening party maybe the 28th? First Pinot for me on Oct 2 in 2012, admittedly I would pick earlier now but not three weeks earlier. Maybe that's the Goodfellow secret and I want in!
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#27 Post by Jim Anderson » July 29th, 2020, 11:43 am

Not too early to know that in lots/many/most places tonnages are off to way off. Worden Hill Rd. sites (I have 2) seem to be okay and have enough clusters to make up for smaller cluster size. Ribbon Ridge sites (I have 4) are on the edge a bit. Some stuff under 2 tons/acre, some stuff a bit over, nothing I would say is close to 3. Breyman Orchard Rd. sites are as low in some spots as 1-1.25 tons/acre in my opinion with tiny clusters with 20-30 berries and oft times just a few/vine. Going to see Freedom Hill tomorrow but reports are they are down from their normal carrying capacity and he is hoping to come in at 2 tons/acre (that site handles 3 or more with no problem). My Chehalem Mountains AVA sites range from okay-ish to really, really low.

After 9 vintages of mostly okay to massive tonnages this is one that could be a real strain for some growers. Not everyone for sure but for folks selling on by the ton contracts it could be painful (and for those of us buying on by the acre contracts COGS are headed up).
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#28 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 29th, 2020, 2:08 pm

Jim Anderson wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 11:43 am
Not too early to know that in lots/many/most places tonnages are off to way off. Worden Hill Rd. sites (I have 2) seem to be okay and have enough clusters to make up for smaller cluster size. Ribbon Ridge sites (I have 4) are on the edge a bit. Some stuff under 2 tons/acre, some stuff a bit over, nothing I would say is close to 3. Breyman Orchard Rd. sites are as low in some spots as 1-1.25 tons/acre in my opinion with tiny clusters with 20-30 berries and oft times just a few/vine. Going to see Freedom Hill tomorrow but reports are they are down from their normal carrying capacity and he is hoping to come in at 2 tons/acre (that site handles 3 or more with no problem). My Chehalem Mountains AVA sites range from okay-ish to really, really low.

After 9 vintages of mostly okay to massive tonnages this is one that could be a real strain for some growers. Not everyone for sure but for folks selling on by the ton contracts it could be painful (and for those of us buying on by the acre contracts COGS are headed up).
Tonnages are modest for me for sure, but clusters and counts are similar to 2012. With the cooler weather holding until recently, and very good balance in canopy, it seems like the potential for quality is good. And while I am almost exclusively on acreage, so costs are indeed up, I am cautiously optimistic right now.

Especially since there has been considerable increase in plantings over the past 10 years. Hopefully, everyone is finding a home for their fruit, and I just doubt that would be true if it were a larger set. I feel lucky to have the support we have enjoyed over the past few years.

Regarding Breiman Orchard Rd., my yields at Durant have stabilized since we went to no-till. My feeling with our Pinot Noir block there is we will be between 2-2.25 tons/acre, provided we lose no fruit to botrytis or birds. The block is adjacent to Bishop and Madrone, so feel free to take a look.

I was at Whistling Ridge yesterday and Chardonnay seems 2.25-2.75, except the new grafting where we’re dropping to 1 smallish cluster/shoot to allow the plants to continue to heal from last years grafting. Pinot Noir is slightly less, 2-2.25 tons per acre, with one block lower and one block probably a touch higher.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#29 Post by PaulMills » July 29th, 2020, 5:55 pm

Thanks for the update, Marcus. I keep trying to pair back my cellar, but keep finding myself buying wine from you and Vincent F.

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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#30 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 30th, 2020, 7:48 am

PaulMills wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 5:55 pm
Thanks for the update, Marcus. I keep trying to pair back my cellar, but keep finding myself buying wine from you and Vincent F.
I appreciate that very much Paul. There’s too much good wine!
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#31 Post by lleichtman » July 30th, 2020, 11:25 am

Haven't you had some brutal heat in Willamette as of late. Not that it is that unusual but seems to have gotten quite hotter. Son lives near Sherwood and it has been very hot there for the last week.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#32 Post by Jim Anderson » July 30th, 2020, 11:46 am

lleichtman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 11:25 am
Haven't you had some brutal heat in Willamette as of late. Not that it is that unusual but seems to have gotten quite hotter. Son lives near Sherwood and it has been very hot there for the last week.
It’s been hot. Not brutal. Supposed to get to around 96 today. That being said it’s noon and it’s 83. It’s summer. It gets warm.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#33 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 30th, 2020, 12:04 pm

lleichtman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 11:25 am
Haven't you had some brutal heat in Willamette as of late. Not that it is that unusual but seems to have gotten quite hotter. Son lives near Sherwood and it has been very hot there for the last week.
It’s been a cool growing season so far. We normally start seeing 80 degree days in June, and sometimes as early as May. This year it was mid-July.
Last week we warmed up, and it’s been in the 90s for the last 8-10 days. That’s not unusual at all here in July or August. We had one night where the low was 61, and otherwise it’s been into the 50s. So mornings are quite cool, and the high temps have been later in the day.

The forecast for the next 10 days is all mid-80s for highs, and 50s for low temps at night. Pretty ideal ripening weather, and not abnormal but not as hot as August often is here.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#34 Post by Richard T r i m p i » July 30th, 2020, 3:21 pm

Marcus Goodfellow wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 12:04 pm
The forecast for the next 10 days is all mid-80s for highs, and 50s for low temps at night. Pretty ideal ripening weather, and not abnormal but not as hot as August often is here.
Can you narrow the vintage comparisons yet?

I firmly believe in Jim's golf analogy. The drive and long irons are critical...but you putt for dough and right now....you're still sizing up your short irons.

That said Marcus. Thanks for the informative updates!

RT

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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#35 Post by Vincent Fritzsche » July 30th, 2020, 3:41 pm

It's too early for real vintage comparisons. A typhoon in September would change everything, a la 2013. Hot east winds at harvest would push things in the other direction. Who knows what's to come.

The hot weather lately is indeed normal and welcome. We need summer to grow the grapes. We just don't need it to last too long.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#36 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 30th, 2020, 4:27 pm

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 3:21 pm
Marcus Goodfellow wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 12:04 pm
The forecast for the next 10 days is all mid-80s for highs, and 50s for low temps at night. Pretty ideal ripening weather, and not abnormal but not as hot as August often is here.
Can you narrow the vintage comparisons yet?

I firmly believe in Jim's golf analogy. The drive and long irons are critical...but you putt for dough and right now....you're still sizing up your short irons.

That said Marcus. Thanks for the informative updates!

RT
Going to hold with my statement that if you’re on the green in 5 the best putt in the world is a bogey.

Just for clarity. The growing season in 2019 in the Willamette Valley was brutal. At this time last year people were losing acres of fruit to mildew. Acres wiped out. Not good year vs. bad year. No year at all.

No one talked about it, because if you avoided the mildew, your year stayed a mostly normal, cooler growing year. And if you didn’t avoid the worst of it, you didn’t feel like talking about it. But the adrenaline levels of everyone I know in the community were through the roof.

Topping it all off, it rained in September. We had a wet harvest for the first time in a while. But the prevailing feeling I saw was one of enjoying having to use our skill set and being pretty darn happy with the wines. I doubt many growers would rather alter the last 30 days of 2019 ahead of being able to change the short iron game.

This year will be what it will be, but once color change happens I am pretty sure I can put the ball in the cup. I’ll be ready for as many possible outcomes as I can think of, but we’re chipping at the flag, not the green.

I mentioned before that cluster physiology and crop load look a lot like 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012, and possibly 2019. The already determined crop set and shape of the clusters will be a massive impact on how the weather in the final 50-55 days affects the wines. The loosely spaced berries will help with disease resistance and tend towards concentration also aiding quality if we see inclement weather.

2001, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2013 are unlikely. All are big cluster vintages and, excepting 2001 and 2003, were further along by now. 2010 is also unlikely, the set was smaller, like this one, but the vintage was much later and we didn’t begin picking until October 20th.

It’s not outside the realm of possibility that this could look somewhat like 2003(2012 does shade that way), but it would take serious and relentless heat from now to near picking, and the East winds Vincent mentioned. But we do a lot of things differently in the vineyard now and it guards against that type of situation.

This year bloom was June 12-13th at Whistling Ridge. Picking will most likely begin in September a month earlier than 2010. 100 days from bloom at WR is Sept. 21st. Small set means hanging late is less likely.

2011, 2014, and 2015 are not happening. Color hasn’t changed yet and in 2014 and 2015 it was wrapping up. I picked on Sept. 5th in 2014 & 2015, and only because things cooled dramatically last week of August. 2011...see Jim’s post above.
Last edited by Marcus Goodfellow on July 30th, 2020, 7:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#37 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 30th, 2020, 6:52 pm

Not to beat a dead horse(he says while deadhorse )

Last 30 days of vintages are important why?

2006-big crop. Gross heat. Which 30 days to blame. Can’t really tell.

2007: big crop, hot growing season. Last 30 days rain. Rain. Rain. Rain. More rain. Still more rain. Maybe just mist today. Rain again. More rain. Ugh, putt is horrible shank 90 degrees from the cup...but wait, it’s rolling back down the green, it’s rolling towards the hole, it’s still rolling! It’s still rolling! It’s circling around the cup...it’s circling around the cup...IT’S IN THE HOLE!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! IT’S IN THE HOLE!!!!!

And the club that brought the dough was the (Bob) Wood. (RIP and thank you again for loving those sh**ty 07 WV Pinot Noirs.)


2008: very late start. very cool growing season, many fingernails chewed. Beautiful, beautiful September and October! Last 30 days are AMAZING!!! Harvest is so easy, and calm. Winemaker enthusiasm for the vintage is 100 points. Actual wines are probably pretty darn good...they are almost ready!


2009: late start, but hot, hot growing season. Last 30 days cooled a bit at the end, but not nearly enough, didn’t alter course much. Vintage was determined by mid growing season heat.

2010 & 2011: La Niña vintages, last 30 days...cold, mostly sunny, some rain in 2011, no real rain in 2010 until it forced everyone’s hand in late October.

2010-Great wines! Restrained and elegant. Caused more by late cool start? Or by late cool finish...no idea.
2011-Hard vintage, but October was the second warmest month of the year, so not the last 30 days fault. Last 30 days are the equivalent of sinking a 70 foot putt to single bogey. Yeah it could have been a LOT worse, but it’s not exactly a “championship” year. 100% due to having Junuary, Julyuary, and Septemberuary.
Some very good wines still, and some of RT and my favorites at the Berserker tasting. But it’s a winemakers vintage. Don’t love my own wines that vintage, but it’s more about moving into a new space and having the press fail mid-harvest.

2012-Jim’s favorite vintage, and I am very happy about my wines that vintage. Biggest challenge was not getting caught off guard on when fruit needed to be picked.
Super late spring- was IDENTICAL to 2010 and quite close to 2011. That similarity was completely erased by 80-88 degree days every single day from July 3rd to end of September. We had a switch from La Niña in 2012, and so while 2012 began very much like 2010 and 2011, it shifted weather and by mid-year we were in a warm pattern again(the La Nina switch was earlier). The mid-season was a ripeness machine and coupled with a small set absolutely eradicated any comparison to 2011, or even 2010.

2013-the best argument that putting matters. 6-7” of rain right before harvest. Mother Nature’s version of a tire screeching 180 degree e-brake turn. Definitely a challenge, but Charlie Fu just put the 2013 Heritage into a blind tasting with Liger-Belair and Fourrier and it showed all right.

2014 & 2015-Putting? What putting. OLast 30 days were the short irons...very early budbreak, followed by very early bloom.
You made your birdie by NOT dropping fruit, reducing canopy, and stripping leaves on both sides of the vines. ...and by having enough barrels to handle your fruit load.
Bogey’s almost all came from airmailing the ball over the green, by not adjusting correctly during the irons play.
The last two weeks made everything a little easier, but hardly altered the vintages.

2016, 2017, & 2018-early season choices regarding canopy meant the ability to pick fruit at moderate brix with physiological ripeness. If you had to wait for flavors, sugars elevated and acids shrank. Very standard fall weather, and for those waiting for flavors, wines are bigger.
The outlier is 2017, where the savory aspect of the vintage is reflected in most of the wines that I have tasted. It’s, IMO, a reflection of skin thickness and tannin. Along with 2015, the hardest punchdowns since 2005. But the last 30 days were not terribly unusual or very different from 2016 or 2018. Caveat being that pick dates vary dramatically from winery to winery, so YMMV.
Last edited by Marcus Goodfellow on July 31st, 2020, 8:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#38 Post by Jim Anderson » July 30th, 2020, 10:04 pm

I have now seen 16 of our 18 Pinot Noir sites. Seeing one more tomorrow and the other will have to wait as they just sprayed today and it’s one of the two “far away” sites and I saw the other one today. The very experienced vineyard manager at that site said he thinks crop load is normal so I’m counting it in that category for now.

It’s a mixed bag for sure. There is stuff at 3 tons/acre and stuff at 1 or barely over that amount. Clusters range from normal to weird looking to vacant.

Stuff is all over the board in terms of where it is at. I have stuff that I am pretty sure we will pick on the next 45-50 days and stuff that could take up to 65-75 days. Hot weather in September could be brutal and shrivel and raisining are in play big time I’d that happens.

There are a multitude of reasons for concern but also for high levels of optimism. These are more typical PN cluster than we have seen in years. Flavor development could come swiftly within the context of brix development. Intensity is likely not to be an issue at a natural level barring atypical circumstances. It’s delicate out there but could be phenomenal.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#39 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 31st, 2020, 12:30 am

“There are a multitude of reasons for concern but also for high levels of optimism. “

Yup...or as someone said, “it’s summer. It gets warm.”


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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#40 Post by Richard T r i m p i » July 31st, 2020, 5:27 am

Marcus Goodfellow wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 6:52 pm
Not to beat a dead horse.... Last 30 days of vintages are important why?

2006-big crop. Gross heat. Which 30 days to blame. Can’t really tell. 2007: big crop, hot growing season. Last 30 days rain. Rain. Rain. Rain. More rain. Still more rain. Maybe just mist today. Rain again. More rain. Ugh, putt is horrible shank 90 degrees from the cup...but wait, it’s rolling back down the green, it’s rolling towards the hole, it’s still rolling! It’s still rolling! It’s circling around the cup...it’s circling around the cup...IT’S IN THE HOLE!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! IT’S IN THE HOLE!!!!!

And the club that brought the dough was the (Bob) Wood. (RIP and thank you again for loving those sh**ty 07 WV Pinot Noirs.)
Marcus, my perceptions are clearly those of an armchair quarterback with none of the firsthand experience that you, Jim, Todd and Vincent have. But I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express...once. A couple of counter thoughts:

2006 - IIRC, this was the vintage where a lot of fruit underwent a sudden and massive brix surge after a brief rain and heat spike. Everyone scrambled to pick the grapes ASAP so as not to wind up with Port. A few extra days and winemakers would have been breaking their clubs!

2007 - Seemed like it was going to be the harvest from soaking wet hell....and it kind of was. Proper (and in many ways fortunate) vineyard management was crucial but so were the decisions in the last month. When to pick, which vineyards...even which rows/vines. Quite a challenge, combined with mildew and botrytis pressure. Sorting was important and in many cases critical. This was putting on the most challenging green that many OR winemakers had ever seen.

RT

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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#41 Post by Todd Hamina » July 31st, 2020, 9:57 am

2007 was only tough if you weren't around in 1996 and 1997 (or earlier).
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#42 Post by Richard T r i m p i » July 31st, 2020, 10:53 am

Todd Hamina wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 9:57 am
2007 was only tough if you weren't around in 1996 and 1997 (or earlier).
Harry Peterson-Nedry on 2007: "As always, experience tells us not to freak out about dreary rain days, but to drink another cup of coffee, continue to pick on flavors and jump only when botrytis seems ready to show."

How many of today's producers and labels were around in 1996 and 1997? I don't pay anywhere near the level of detailed attention that you guys do...but has there been a "typically rainy" OR harvest since 2007?

RT

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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#43 Post by Jim Anderson » July 31st, 2020, 11:12 am

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 10:53 am
Todd Hamina wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 9:57 am
2007 was only tough if you weren't around in 1996 and 1997 (or earlier).
Harry Peterson-Nedry on 2007: "As always, experience tells us not to freak out about dreary rain days, but to drink another cup of coffee, continue to pick on flavors and jump only when botrytis seems ready to show."

How many of today's producers and labels were around in 1996 and 1997? I don't pay anywhere near the level of detailed attention that you guys do...but has there been a "typically rainy" OR harvest since 2007?

RT
Some would say 2019. It only rained the last part of August/first part of September but it certainly impacted when harvest happened.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#44 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 31st, 2020, 11:28 am

Rich...I’m a bit frustrated as I spent half an hour answering you, hit save draft to tale my three year old to the potty and now can’t get the draft. It’s not showing in the “manage drafts” tab at all.

A shorter recap:

2007 was a challenging green but very makable putt. And it gave everyone plenty of time. While stressful, I was able to make the wines to my full capabilities. So while it wasn’t “easy”, it was more drama thsn disaster. And the wines reflect that.

2006 and it’s ilk(heat and the dehydrating east winds that Vincent referenced) are, IMO, the most challenging putting situations. The green doesn’t look that bad, but when you’re 5 yards from it, your informed that you have 10 seconds to putt or you’ll be assessed a stroke.

You had better have your putter in your hand already, and the most successful golfer is the one with the tap in. And these vintages occur with more regularity than the rainy ones. Vintages that lean this direction, are becoming common. 2012, almost 2013, 2014(mid season heat, not late), 2015(see 2014), 2016, 2017, and 2018 all had the opportunity to pick past the balance point. YMMV as wineries have different goals in their wines, but mine are 12.5-13.5 abv, no higher.

That’s why the short irons are the most important to me. Transitioning from focusing on managing yields to managing canopy has drastically improved our ability to resist late season heat(or be picked out before it arrives). In cool vintages it means that I have to make up some ground, but the house style is on the leaner side anyway. And 2010-2011 are the rarity.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#45 Post by R M Kriete » July 31st, 2020, 11:58 am

Why is this thread giving me the urge to watch the PGA Championship next week?

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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#46 Post by Brian Glas » July 31st, 2020, 12:03 pm

R M Kriete wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 11:58 am
Why is this thread giving me the urge to watch the PGA Championship next week?
LOL I would rather watch a round of golf between Marcus, Jim, Todd, and Vincent.

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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#47 Post by Marshall Manning » July 31st, 2020, 1:04 pm

Brian Glas wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 12:03 pm
LOL I would rather watch a round of golf between Marcus, Jim, Todd, and Vincent.
I would rather watch them drink wine than watch golf [popcorn.gif]
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#48 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » July 31st, 2020, 1:16 pm

Brian Glas wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 12:03 pm
R M Kriete wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 11:58 am
Why is this thread giving me the urge to watch the PGA Championship next week?
LOL I would rather watch a round of golf between Marcus, Jim, Todd, and Vincent.
LOL...a virtual round. Please believe that you would never want to watch me play a real round...
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#49 Post by Todd Hamina » July 31st, 2020, 1:31 pm

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 10:53 am
Todd Hamina wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 9:57 am
2007 was only tough if you weren't around in 1996 and 1997 (or earlier).
Harry Peterson-Nedry on 2007: "As always, experience tells us not to freak out about dreary rain days, but to drink another cup of coffee, continue to pick on flavors and jump only when botrytis seems ready to show."

How many of today's producers and labels were around in 1996 and 1997? I don't pay anywhere near the level of detailed attention that you guys do...but has there been a "typically rainy" OR harvest since 2007?

RT
Harry is a sharp guy who deserves better attention for the fine work that he has done.
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Re: The way too early look at 2020 in Willamette Valley

#50 Post by Richard T r i m p i » July 31st, 2020, 1:49 pm

Marcus Goodfellow wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 11:28 am
Rich...I’m a bit frustrated as I spent half an hour answering you, hit save draft to tale my three year old to the potty and now can’t get the draft. It’s not showing in the “manage drafts” tab at all.
Oof! Thanks for your thoughts.

I know and appreciate that you and others are increasingly focused on honing your skills in the vineyard and making your wines long before there's anything close to harvest-ready grapes. IIRC, back in 2007 there was still a lot of economic tugging towards riper styles. A recipe for agita in that vintage.

I'm still a big fan of 2007....but there were lots of missed putts. As a dramatic change of pace, many producers were subsequently overjoyed with 2008. A vintage that Bob Wood claimed his dog could make great wines from. It's taken a long time (and still waiting) to figure out which producers made par or birdies on that one.

RT

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