2014 is on record in the Willamette Valley as having the most cumulative degree days up to that point. The previous record was broken in 2003. But a significant source of the cumulative heat degree days this year was higher-than-average minimum temperatures (the nighttime temperatures). It isn’t that simple. When is it ever? I mention this because I was making wine in 2003, and the fruit and wines were very different then than in 2014.
Over the years, I have noticed that however the wines are characterized by others for the
vintages, the farms from which I produce my own wines tend to be ringers. Instead of going into the general descriptions of 2014, I’ll give an overview of what I saw happening at Maresh and Momtazi specifically.
Full bloom in my blocks at Maresh occurred at around 18 June and Momtazi just a bit before. There was light rain on 12 and 13 June just before, and it was cool and wet from 14 to 17 June. It was sunny on 18 and 19 June with the sunshine and fair weather for at least a week beyond. There were intermittent, soft rains between 24 and 27 June, but starting in July, the weather was dry and warm-to-hot. There were plenty of days in the high 80’s and even more in the 90’s as high as 97. Starting 17 July, the weather cooled to the low 80’s for about a week, followed by more mid90’s for the highs. It was around this time the berry touch happened in my blocks at Maresh, and I could somehow still smell the last of the bloom when working there. By this time, the vines at both farms were hedged and all was looking and feeling very good. There were some rains between 18 and 22 July, followed by more sun and days of low 90’s. The weather remained warm, if not very warm, and fair.
While many vineyards experienced bountiful yields (which surely in this year ripened beautifully across the board), my blocks at Marsh were about 1.8 tons per acre. Momtazi had a slightly higher set. The fruit from all of the blocks was picked just when they wanted to be (no weather pressure, no rapidly accelerating sugar pressure, no shriveling/desiccation: no pressure other than the readiness to be picked in itself), and the fruit was-well-happy in itself. Managing the fruit was carefree and fun (but still serious-just without the extra angst) to produce the 2014’s and it was the year I finally realized that I don’t want those clusters going through a destemmer and getting pulled apart from the stems unless truly necessary (i.e., very cold if not somehow frigid growing season). This means that the percentage of whole clusters in my ferments increased from about 60% in 2013 to 80% or more in 2014 (and 100% for all in 2015). I loved being in these ferments. The final alcohols at bottling ranged from 13.1% to 13.6% and the acidity in all of the wines is exciting. The wines overall feel mirthful somehow, even with the deeper structure from the year (relative to 2013, that is). And still, ancient and wise because this earth who sings them is, and was unimpeded in the winery..