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Oregon 2015 harvest: A stellar crop, say producers

Producers in northern Oregon’s Willamette Valley are thrilled about the 2015 growing season results, reports Christy Canterbury MW.

While some vintners unleash their enthusiasm, some – like Jason Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards – prefer to remain somewhere between calm and tight-lipped about how the Oregon 2015 wines will eventually turn out. Nevertheless, they are all optimistic.

Not only is the quality looking high, the yields were generous, too.

Janie Brooks-Hueck, of Brooks Winery, said, ‘Mother Nature didn’t throw us any curve balls this year. We had great weather at bloom, fruit set and throughout the growing season.’

Mother Nature may have been kind, but she was certainly precocious this year. Budbreak was three weeks ahead of ‘normal’ and the growing season maintained that lead through to harvest. At WillaKenzie Estate, Bernard Lacroute reported harvesting as early as 2 September.

The Oregon 2015 growing season was also very hot, with several days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

According to data provided by Harry Peterson-Nedry, of Chehalem Wines, the McMinnville Airport weather station recorded 85 days over 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 28 days over 90 degrees. That almost eclipsed 2014, when the station recorded 81 days over 80F and 29 days over 90F.

Mo Ayoub, of Ayoub Vineyards, said that eastern facing vineyards tended to be easier to control with all the heat, but only moderate sunburn was reported in the Northern Willamette. Sorting tables caught that, so it shouldn’t show up much in the wines.

Despite the losses on the sorting tables, the yields were enormous. Chehalem Wines reported cropping 150% more wine in 2015 than its five-year average, even with 10 acres fallow or no longer in use.

Despite the heat, ripening was slow and steady, and light rains in August helped the vines stay in good shape. Following historical patterns, the hot, early start to the season finished cooler than usual, so there was no rush to bring in crop.

The general sentiment is that 2015 looks as good as 2014 and 2012. Stay tuned to see the wines in bottle.

More 2015 wine harvest news and views:

Updated 23/11/2015: Willamette Valley Vineyards changed to WillaKenzie.

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