Oregon Wine- Battened Down and Ready for a Break

Turns out the 11 degree weather in the valley last week was no problem for dormant vines. Melissa, at Patty Green Cellars, says that “if we were at bud break, or such, it would have been different”.

Oregon wineries are shutting down for the winter, closing tasting rooms and letting employees take needed vacations.  The usual contingent of cellar rats and winemakers are heading for New Zealand, where they’ll work the April harvest. Lots of Oregon wine people looking for a working holiday on the New Zealand wine jobs web site.

All of the wineries I visited last week had the 2009 wines in barrel. Kurt, at Beaux Freres, said they had actually tasted some of the young 2009 wine. He seemed pretty  blown away about it. He’s their VP Sales, and I saw a happy sparkle in his eyes – 2009 might be an easy vintage to sell.

Except for pruning, done in the first months of the new year while the vines are dormant, it’s the quietest time in the vineyards. In the cellars, a few wines are still in tank, but most are developing in barrel or stainless, going through malolactic, turning into the new releases of 2011.

Expect many of your favorite wineries to be closed except by appointment for a few months. But soon it’ll be Memorial Day again and the season will start anew, complete with new wine country wineries, spas, restaurants, and hotels. Oh, and don’t forget, the full-on release of the 2008 vintage, rumored to be the best thing to happen in the Willamette Valley for years.

From last week’s cold spell, here’s the pond at August Cellars last Friday. Frozen solid.

frozen-pond-august-cellars-12-09

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