This is a summary of our long and painful 2011 harvest:
We brought some Riesling from Oregon but also some Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for our new Oregon winery project. It was a challenging harvest in OR overall following an unseasonably cool spring and summer (Thank you la Nina). We thought that all would be saved by a great August and a promising September but the weather turned cold mid-September slowing down ripening considerably. We were aggressive with yield reduction to allow what was left to ripen a bit more. The saving grace has been the dry weather which has reduced fungal pressure in OR tremendously. We saw little or no rot on any varietal. Most folks started to harvest mid-October wrapping harvest in 2 to 3 weeks – bit of a flash harvest ahead of the rain that are in the forecast as far as the eye can see now. Overall the fruit is low in sugar (21 Brix) but fruit flavors are ripe with no greenness, and colors on the Pinot Noir are very decent indeed. I think that overall it will be a nice vintage with delicate flavors that will reward wineries that tend to go for elegance against power. The Riesling was low Brix and is slotted for a Kabinett style.
Same pattern than OR in WA minus the rain factor and plus frost issues. The summer was very cool and 2011 will be remembered as one of the coldest vintage on record, cooler than 2010 even – 2011 is the 8th coldest year on record sandwiched between 1976 and 1970. The yields were quite lower than last year due to some winter frost damage and some aggressive thinning after bloom. WA harvest as a whole will probably be 20% below average yield which has probably helped to get most fruit to good ripeness. Acids are high and everyone brought some nice botrytis with the fruit. Overall it is a little riper of a vintage (bit weird but the acids were much lower than 2010) for us and we will be able to make every Riesling style we usually produce. We are leaving a few acres out to see if this is a good ice wine year, we might get something good out of this cold weather!