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October 2013

IN THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY, we are known for living on the edge. This growing season is a perfect example of how well we can manage an intense challenge. Our region is one of the most unpredictable areas in the world to forecast the weather. Therefore, it is imperative that we’re armed, ready and have the ability to adapt to a sudden change that Mother Nature may throw our way. In this business, you can never rest on your laurels. We find greater strength when the wind is in our face. 

Overall, 2013 was an exceptional and adventurous growing season. While you can never have too much of a good thing (because that would be boring, right?), we were faced with a serious climate change in September. We survived a Pacific typhoon that blew in from China and created gushing downpours. Several monsoons followed creating record highs for rainfall (ie: nine inches in two days!). There were only two options to choose from: pick the fruit, or let it all hang. As with the 2007 vintage, we chose “hang”.

Taking risks are something that consulting winemaker Eric Hamacher and I are easily comfortable with. Fortunately, we are driven by a passion for quality and leveraging a close partnership with our growers. Consistency is everything - we make no compromises when it comes to controlling quality in the vineyard. So much, that we are relentless when it comes to perfection and will cut and discard more than 60% of the clusters on the vine. Our approach to adapt and overcome was simple, throw on the muck boots and rain gear and spend tedious hours in the vineyard. We aggressively pulled leaves from the canopy in the fruit zone to increase the airflow. The second phase was to continually walk through each row, vine by vine and study the condition of each and every cluster. While yields were already low, we continued to drop entire clusters or pluck individual berries from their havens literally, with a pair of tweezers! 

The tradition of “talking to our vines” combined with the loyalty from our growers, their meticulous crews and our incredible team at the winery, prove critical to the success of each and every vintage. While September was challenging, we remain firm believers that “good beginnings, make great endings”. These are the years that make really interesting, elegant and complex wines and tend to be favored by “true Pinotphiles”. Not to worry, the storms passed, the glorious sun returned and we have harvested all of the Pinot Noir. The fermenters in the winery smell amazing and we continue to be inspired by the beautiful character of this vintage.