Following what were arguably two of the more challenging harvests in recent memory, the 2012 harvest was completed under almost ideal conditions. After a wet spring that lasted well into June, the spigot turned off for the remaining summer months of July, August, and September, leading to some near-drought conditions. While the vines started to experience some water stress by October, most of us in the Willamette Valley were delighted with the warm, sunny conditions. Harvest occurred on October 13 in the Kiff Vineyard, and on October 17th in the Johnson Ridge Vineyard. The incoming fruit was the prettiest I have seen since I started in this business (1997 was my first harvest) so sorting was mostly a non-event. The weather during harvest continued to be unseasonably warm, allowing us the almost unheard of privilege of continuing to wear shorts and t-shirts. The resulting wines are in barrel, malolactic fermentation is complete, and they are already displaying amazing color and texture! We are looking forward to balanced, dark wines with hedonistic fruit and ripe, velvety tannins. We are ecstatic about what we have in barrel; these wines won’t be available until the summer of 2014, but they’ll definitely be worth the wait!
Pinot Noir clone 667 in Kiff Vineyard
After what was one of the strangest years weather-wise in 2010, it is nice to have the wines in barrel, malolactic fermentation complete, and not much to do in the winery except topping and monitoring. Had the birds not munched all but 200 pounds of the pinot gris in Kiff Vineyard, we would be bottling a pinot gris this time of year, but it was just not to be. The 2010 wines in barrel are beautiful right now, and I can’t wait to start working on blending trials later this summer.
It has been a dreary winter, with only 22 sunny or partly cloudy days since harvest (yep, that’s a whopping 12%), and 136 days in which we have received some form of precipitation (over 75%), yet it is hard to complain too loudly when the rest of the country has had one of the toughest winters in memory. In spite of the weather, winter in the vineyard still means pruning. Although I do not own a vineyard, I did take the opportunity to spend a day helping with pruning in Kiff Vineyard. Pruning is an art that requires a keen eye for balance; from choosing which canes to keep for this year’s crop to selecting a good renewal spur for next year’s, it is all about creating a balanced vine, which in turn, creates healthy, balanced fruit. While I have trouble keeping up with Joel, I still find it a very relaxing way to spend a day!
Even though most of us here in the Willamette Valley might feel otherwise, spring really is here, and the vines, all pruned to one or two canes, are starting to show signs of the season. Buds are swelling, and it won’t be long until we see active growth. And I have faith that warmer temperatures, sunshine, and a more normal growing season in 2011 are just around the corner. In the meantime, I will enjoy sharing the 2009 Kiff Vineyard pinot noir that we just released. I hope you do too!
Another year is almost in the books, and we at Denison Cellars are happy to say that the 2010 vintage is in barrel, with malolactic fermentation complete, so now we can slow down and enjoy the holiday season!
This year may have been the most challenging winemaking year that I can remember. The vineyard started out at least two weeks late, a trend that continued throughout the growing season. Temperatures were cooler than normal, precipitation higher, and there was a distinct lack of sunshine that has us already sick of winter weather! You could say it was a year without a summer. It was also a year for the birds. Literally. As if we were living a Hitchcock movie, thousands of birds swarmed the vineyards and ate more than their fair share! All that aside, we are very excited about the way the wines have turned out thus far, and although yields were less than one ton per acre, the resulting wines should be excellent, if not plentiful.
Denison Cellars reached several exciting milestones in 2010, including label and web site design, and successfully navigating our second harvest. Most importantly, we successfully bottled our first release, the 2009 Denison Cellars Kiff Vineyard pinot noir. And while it is not quite ready for release, it is showing great promise, and as hard as it is, we will patiently wait until the time is right in the spring.
In reflecting back on this past year, while there was no shortage of challenges, we are mostly grateful for all the support provided by friends, family and wine industry professionals. Without their continued support, Denison Cellars could not have become reality. We hope you join us as our journey continues in the coming year.