Harvest is a time we look forward to every year and this year our vineyard crews led by Vineyard Manager Efren Loeza delivered exceptionally clean, ripe fruit to the winemaking team to transform into our beautiful wines. Our winemaking team more than doubles for two months and we have crews working around the clock to process all the grapes from our estate and partner vineyards.
Miguel Calderon (left) and Vineyard Manager Efren Loeza (right) during harvest at Tualatin Estate Vineyard.
Starting early in the morning in late August we kicked off harvest season with the harvesting of Pinot Noir for our sparkling wines and then quickly moved into whites, rosés and then reds. We had an unseasonably warm and dry growing season that then quickly cooled down in late September. This slowed down the ripening in the final stretch to build flavors and tannins in the grapes while retaining natural acidities and moderating alcohol levels. Think of the difference of how slow cooking builds a lot of flavor over flash frying. This will result in concentrated color, richness and structure in the red wines from 2021 and aromatic, flavorful and balanced for the whites and rosés.
Greg Urmini, Director of Winemaking & Vineyards
Our Director of Winemaking & Vineyards, Greg Urmini, shared “the grapes for the Bernau Estate Méthode Champenoise Brut and Rosé, White Pinot Noir and Maison Bleue arrived first and tasted fantastic! We then received fruit for our Pambrun, Pinot Gris and our Pinot and Chardonnay wines. The team is really happy with the overall quality of the fruit. The phenolic maturity in the seeds and skins were optimal while the brix and acids were perfectly aligned for each varietal to express its typicity and capture the site of each vineyard.”
We had a full house in the cellar with bins of fruit everywhere you looked but everything fermented nicely and quickly so we were able to make room for the remainder of the fruit as it arrived, according to Urmini. The team strengthened our arms with twice daily ‘punch downs’ in each fermentation vessel to assure the proper extraction was achieved to fully develop the flavors and colors we want in our red wines.
The rains in October came at an opportune time for us to do some work in the cellar and catch our breath in the vineyards before harvest came to a successful end in mid-October. Our attention then turned to fermenting, pressing and barreling down our wines before topping and running chemistries on our 2021 wines as they initiate their malolactic fermentation, the conversion of malic acid into lactic acid within a wine to soften the acidity.
We're very happy with the incredible color and taste in this year's harvest and can't wait for you to try our new vintages. Willamette will start bottling our first 2021 wines in December and you will be able to find the 2021 Whole Cluster Rose’ of Pinot Noir beginning in February 2022 as our first release of the year.
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