Oregon winemakers have reported bumper grape hauls from the 2014 harvest, with quality that the 'public will fall all over'.

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Harvest time at Evening Land’s Seven Springs Vineyard in Oregon. Image credit: Evening Land

Tank space is at a premium due to high yields from a 2014 crop that the Oregon Wine Board believes could set a new record. But, that isn’t all. This year is also forecast to be a rare vintage for US state’s $2.7bn wine industry, perhaps like 1994, when both quantity and quality were exceptional.

Alex Sokol Blosser, winemaker at Sokol Blosser, said yields were ‘way above what we have seen this past decade. We green harvested 40% to 50% of our Pinot Noir and were still over-cropped by 20% more than expected.’

He added, ‘With such a massive amount of good, clean and ripe Pinot Noir, it might have to be called the juggernaut vintage.’

Kelley Fox, winemaker for Scott Paul and for her eponymous label, estimated yields in some vineyards were 25% higher than the 10-year average.

Many estates began harvest two weeks earlier than usual. Several Willamette Valley producers finished in mid-September, compared to early November in 2010 and 2011.

Harry Peterson-Nedry, of Chehalem group, said, ‘We left more on-vine during green-harvesting to push harvest towards a normal time considering the very warm growing season, ending with 15-30% more [grapes] than average.’

How did this happen?

Fruit set was generous and heat accumulation was high. Winemakers said that minimum temperatures, rather than maximum temperatures were higher than usual, reducing vine stress. However, thanks to the lack of heat spikes and desiccating winds, sugars are kept under control.

What could the wines taste like?

Thomas Bachelder, of The Bachelder Project, said the wines should have ‘lovely high sugars with great concentration, incredible dry extract and length in the mouth’. Peterson-Nedry said they will be ‘ones the public will fall all over’.

Several winemakers said the Pinot Noirs are quite dark, though this could change in the cellar.

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Written by Christy Canterbury MW