Even though we know the Willamette Valley is going to get some rain, the onset of the latest storm has winery owners concerned.
It just starts going sideways a bit when you have this adverse weather.
During the month of September, the rainfall in the area has been over four times the local average. The southern Willamette Valley has received unseasonably heavy precipitation over the past couple of weeks.
When it rains day after day, over a period of time, grapes will rot. Mildew takes over and the grapes become diluted and can split. The colder weather overnight and during the day will possibly send the vines into dormancy. The vines will begin to pull the sugars from the grapes to thrive.
The southern Willamette Valley is known for its prized pinot noir grapes. Pinot noir production relies on the finicky grapes that hold a powerful punch in flavor and plumpness.
The pinot crops have thinner skins, where the Cabernet has a thicker, tougher covering. Other grapes do not seem quite as delicate due to the tougher outer skin. The pinot grapes will absorb water quickly when it rains and that tends to increase the weakness of the grape.
The owner of Benton-Lane Winery stated he begins harvesting in early October during a traditional season. This year, Steve Girard has begun harvesting as quickly as possible before the pinot grapes rot.
King Estate Winery in Lorane, Oregon has workers scrambling as they have removed grapes from about 25% of the 465 acres. Ed King, owner, is attempting to wait out the rain to pick the grapes at the optimum ripeness. He states he is watching the crop closely to ensure the grapes are healthy.
Gregory Jones is a climatologist at Southern Oregon University. Jones reports that the early, harsh rainfall in Eugene could be a variable in the wine production this year, but it is mainly a waiting game.
You never know exactly what each vintage gives you until the wines come out in a few