See below for harvest updates. If you ordered fresh grapes or juice we will contact you to coordinate pick-up.
Upcoming California Harvest:
- Plumb Ridge Syrah will be harvested on 9/19
- Sonoma Mountain Zin to be harvested 9/19-9/22
- Plumb Ridge Malbec will be harvested 9/19-9/22
Please note, we are sold out of Sonoma Mountain Zinfandel, however, we still have Zinfandel available from Plumb Ridge Vineyard. We expect to be harvesting Plumb Ridge Zinfandel in 2 weeks. We have also recently sold out of Napa Cabernet from Caldwell Vineyard. We are still taking orders for Charlie Smith’s Cabernet from Moon Mountain AVA and Plumb Ridge Vineyard in Fountaingrove AVA (both sub-AVA’s of Sonoma).
Upcoming Columbia Gorge Harvest:
- White Salmon Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will be harvested 9/22 – 9/28
- White Salmon Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, September 17th
- lab results coming soon
- Columbia Gorge Mosier Sauvignon Blanc, September 16th
- 22.3 brix, 3.4 pH
- Carneros Chardonnay, September 16th
- lab results coming soon
- White Salmon Vineyard Pinot Noir for Sparkling Wine, September 13th
- 20.2 brix, 3.24 pH
- Carneros Pinot Noir, September 1st
- 24.3 brix, 3.46 pH
August 31, 2017
We are pleased to announce Harvest 2017 has arrived! Peter Brehm and Steve Bell will be processing Carneros Pinot Noir bright and early on September 1st. If you’ve ordered fresh grapes, we’ll be contacting you in the coming weeks as we receive harvest updates for our other varietals. We’ll also begin posting rough timelines here on our website, beginning next week. Due to the variety of grapes we offer from diverse climates, we’ll be harvesting over the next 10-12 weeks in California, Oregon and Washington.
Update: The Carneros Pinot Noir came in at 24.3 brix, 3.46 pH, 0.8 TA, 450 YAN.
We are still taking orders for fresh and frozen grapes, be sure to get your order in soon if you haven’t already.
August 19, 2017
Another growing season shows contrasts between the California coast and the Pacific Northwest climates.
Both regions received an ample amount of rainfall over the winter. At White Salmon Vineyard we are 7 inches over normal rainfall since October 2016. Spring was forgiving on all fronts, no frost damage. The thirsty ground did erupt with a lot of weeds, and an excessive amount of vegetation on the vines. During the growing season the Coastal vines in CA experienced cool, moist air from the Pacific. The vines in their leafy fullness became the desirable home for mildew. The vineyards required additional labor in thinning the vines, cutting the grass, and the California coast found itself challenged with mildew. The Northwest experienced the excess of vegetative growth, but was sparred the summer moisture.
Temperatures in the NW were a bit over normal thru July until Saturday, July 22nd. The weather forecast predicted temperatures of 108° to 111°f for the coming week. I went into a panic trying to prevent crispy grapes. Trellis wires were lowered to offer more shade (opposite what we had worked hard to do). Surround, an organic clay, was sprayed on the Pinot Noir to protect it from the sun. This long-standing practice has no negative impact on the grapes. The heat did come with a vengeance, but was mitigated by a high haze of smoke drafting down from British Columbia. The smoke haze and our hard work kept the berries in excellent condition, even with weeks of very high temperatures.
A recent tour of the Carneros, Moon Mountain and Fountain Grove District AVAs showed a good crop of clean fruit and vines. I first stopped at Las Brisas Vineyard for the Swan clone of Pinot Noir, my favorite. Joe Swan‘s contribution has produced fine wine around the Carneros for many years. Francis Mahoney did a survey of Pinot Noir clones by making 30-gallon batches of each clone that was available. This was before the formal introduction of the Dijon clones.
The White Salmon Pinot Noir survived the heat and is showing small bunches with small berries. The grapes are behind the Carneros in ripening. The following photo shows the light patina of white from the organic clay. The vine shows the lack of sprays to control weeds and suckers. White Salmon Vineyard is committed to a natural environment and our vines appear to like it.
WSV‘s Pinot Noir will be harvested two times, first for sparkling wine. They will be taken at a low sugar of 19°- 20.5° brix and gently pressed to obtain light colored, low phenolic juice. The second picking will be in the 22.5°– 23° brix for a medium bodied, aromatic wine with good tension (acidity) and lush mouth feel. There are usually more tannins in northern Pinot Noir than those from coastal California. Good color can be achieved with less time on the skins during fermentation. Fresh Pinot from WSV or Willamette Valley usually gets a soak before fermentation. Here the color is expressed in a cold environment. Frozen Pinot Noir grapes accomplishes this task in a wonderful way – while helping Carneros as well.
My August 2nd inspection of the Sonoma grapes brought me to the Circle BR ranch in Southern Sonoma, on the south side of Viansa Winery. This is the venue for the Carneros Chardonnay and Sangiovese.
The Carneros Chardonnay has been described as the Beethoven of Chardonnays, while I refer to the WSV Chardonnay as the Bach of Chardonnays. The Carneros ripens in a warmer environment than the Columbia Gorge. The Carneros fruit has good acidity with higher sugar. It produces a more full-bodied wine. In 2016 these Chardonnay vines retained a significant amount of malic acid. After ML fermentation the addition of tartaric acid was helpful to add balance. This season I hope to give you an acid break down – a malic acid fermentation may not be required.
Without ML, the wine would need to be stabilized with lysozyme, SO2, or filtration. This Beethoven of the Carneros represents the best of what folks expect in top California Chardonnays.
Grapes and vines were clean upon inspection. Bunches will be pressed whole in a bladder press. The juice is settled and racked off the gross sediment. If the fruit is clean, no SO2 will be added. Brehm Vineyards has employed this protocol for decades. When you receive the juice, it may have a brown tinge. This is good – do not add SO2. Promptly add your yeast (or not) and proceed with a cool (40°– 50°f) fermentation. The brown phenolic components will drop out near the end of fermentation, leaving a yellow/green wine. Once fermentation is completed, after ML (if employed), SO2 should be added based on the wine‘s pH. The lack of SO2 up front requires less SO2 further in the wine‘s processing. BV will only add SO2 before packaging if the grapes condition warrants it, which is rare.
Having reviewed Charlie Smith’s Moon Mountain Cabernet and Phil Coturri’s Dos Limones Zinfandel weeks earlier, I proceeded to Plum Ridge Vineyard. This ridge top vineyard at the southern edge of Santa Rosa, offers wonderful red grapes from its 84 acres of steep and rolling terrain. Every red wine maker should have a carboy or two of Malbec. While a great wine on its own, it provides color and pleasant complication when blended with most red wines.
Plum Ridge is also our source of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel. In addition, Plumb Ridge boasts ‘above the fog‘ Zinfandel and Syrah destined for your fermenters. The Zinfandel may be combined with Petite Sirah in a traditional blend. The Petite Sirah was described by a client winery as motor oil – it was a compliment to the color, not referring to taste or smell. He is buying it every year.
Monica Carson and I led a tour of vineyards we source grapes from in the Columbia Gorge AVA. All the vines were clean and rebounding from treatment after enduring 10+ days of intense heat. The grapes in this region will be harvested after the same varietals in California, which take on different characteristics with their 600+ mile northern separation. While the Pinot Noir expresses itself a bit differently, so does the Syrah. The Mosier Syrah is actually growing in a relatively cool area. This particular Syrah field is in a basalt hole sheltered from the strong prevailing winds. The basalt container walls reflect the heat onto the vines and the loess soil they are rooted in. This is a special place, special grapes, sometimes blended with wonderful Grenache grown in an nearby section of the same vineyard. Brehm Vineyards has made this Syrah as a single varietal in 2013 and 2014 and blended with Grenache in 2016. The 2013 is currently available for sale. Due to the heat and intense sun (which burnt all the fruit in 2015) the vines have more leaf cover than those at Plum Ridge. Both make fine wine, discover the difference….
The following photo shows the southern end of the Mosier‘s Grenache field. The mountain in the distance is Underwood Mountain. Here you can see the range of the CG‘s climate. From Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris on cool top of Underwood Mountain to Mosier where the Grenache ripens fully with high sugar. A lot of climate change within a small distance!
Our Sauvignon Blanc offerings show contrast between Mosier and Underwood Mountain. The mother of Cabernet Sauvignon (dad being Cabernet Franc), has the classic green bean, pyrazine quality not desirable in its son. This forceful quality combined with a minerality, has made New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc famous. In the warm Mosier area this quality exists, but in a muted subtle way. On Underwood Mountain, from WSV, the Sauvignon Blanc will express this character more forcibly. Both produce fine Sauvignon Blanc.
We look forward to supplying you with fine wine grapes. Our new web site will feature more information as the season progresses.
Peter Brehm, Monica Carson, and Paul Rago