With almost all of the region's wine grapes harvested, crushed and tucked away in tanks, Rogue Valley growers, who typically face this time of year holding their breath, can relax.
Some are even dreaming of leisure-time activities.
Rene Eichmann, the vice president and winemaker of Bridgeview Vineyards, which has about 300 acres of vines in the Illinois and Applegate valleys, is relieved that the harvest won't stretch through Halloween as it did last year.
"Maybe we will have a chance to go to a silly party," he says. "If so, I may dress as a purple grape."
Barbara Steele of Cowhorn Vineyard in Jacksonville says her small crew looks forward to watching sports. "There is nothing like putting in a long, hard and wildly satisfying day in the vineyard and winery during crush, and then settling into warm, dry clothes and playoff baseball," she says. "Once we come down from that high, there is football."
Rene Brons, whose family owns Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass, has another dream to celebrate harvest: "I think we will be grabbing a bottle of our favorite wine, make something tasty to share, and then sit back and reflect on the year."
Growers are thankful for this year's warm, dry summer and fall, including an August heat wave, and cool evenings that allowed berries to reach desirable brix (sugar) levels. Across the state, grape growers experienced one of the driest harvest seasons on record, according to the Oregon Wine Board.
Unlike the past two years, grapes were ready to be picked two to three weeks earlier, putting them back on the schedule growers were accustomed to before 2010.
"We are over the hump," says Rob Wallace of Del Rio Vineyards, where 15 types of grapes are grown on 205 acres in Gold Hill. "The varietals that are susceptible to cool weather are harvested."
Watch a video of Del Rio Vineyards' $500,000 harvester in action here.
Read more in the Medford Mail Tribune: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121018/NEWS/210180309