2018 began with a relatively warm winter-much like our typical spring (cool but not cold). The spring was fairly normal at the onset, but in late April and early May, warmth and sunshine prevailed with a significant number of days in the high 70’s and low 80’s.
Bud break started in some of my blocks near 20 April, but it occurred in most of my blocks near 25 April. Because of the warmer than average spring, the shoots were already two leaves out by 2 May. By 10 May, they were four leaves out. The spring was dry and there was far less rain than average. Though there was a little rain in the second week of June, the heat spiked the week of 17 June.
Flowering was at around 50% in most of my blocks near 12-15 June (the average). July was very warm and sunny with a very hot and dry last week. But the nights were cool due to the low humidity: 55-58F at the highest. This diurnal fluctuation, in my view, really helped to offset the warm vintage, allowing appropriate if not optimal flavor development, not to mention retaining good acidity through the growing season.
August was very warm and downright hot, but the diurnal temperature fluctuations continued, thankfully. 50-75% veraison in my blocks occurred at or near 21-25 August, which is also when the weather cooled down to more normal highs for the Willamette Valley. This was great timing for the gradual flavour development up to picking. The Durant Vineyard Chardonnay, the tiny harvest of the misplanted old vine Weber Chardonnay in my Pinot block, and the Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Blanc were picked on 28 September. The Weber Pinot gris and all of my Maresh Vineyard blocks were picked on 2 October, while the Weber Vineyard old vine Pinot was picked last on 6 October.
The fruit across the board was optimal: clean with beautiful flavours. My 2017’s were perfumed, subtle, fine, and for the purist. My 2018’s have more stuffing, and while they aren’t like my 2007’s, 2011’s, or 2017’s, I have been celebrating these wines for exactly what they are. It would be so boring to have the same type of vintage with the same type of character expression year after year. My 2018’s aren’t overripe or over-the-top and out of balance (read: not another big, hot vintage expression of Pinot) but they are so delicious.