Winemaking: The Continuation of Terroir by Other Means.® A FLOG (Farming bLOG) communication from Dena & Ernie. Estate grown Amalie Robert Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley. Have a look and see what we see on Instagram @AmalieRobert Estate. We are posting on Facebook and LinkedIn. Check us out if you can. We can use all the likes we can get…

Stages of wine berry flowering.

Flowers in Pommard Clone Pinot Noir.

But first we must have pollination. Flowers are nice, but we are not going to have any clusters to pluck if there is no pollination. Good news is that the weather is supposed to be nice and wine berries are self-pollinating – they do not depend on bees as most other crops do for pollination.
After a couple weeks of pollination, we can check out the fruit set. The flowers that do not pollinate are called shatter and they fall off the stem. What is left are tiny green wine berries. Quantitatively speaking, if there are “a lot” of them, then the “fruit set” was good. If there are only a few, then you have a “poor set”.
The quality of fruit set gives you an idea of how many tons of wine berries you have on the vine. Watching the temperature over the next 45 days gives you an idea of how hot the growing season may be. If you are paying attention, somewhere in there is a plan to thin the potential crop load to match the growing season.

Vintage 2021 reminds us of vintage 2009 where we harvested early because the vines flowered early. And thus denied the birds their opportunity to freely feast upon our wine berries. It was a wonderful thing. However, in 2011 we flowered in July, and harvest was not scheduled until late October. The birds were back early that year with a vengeance (and friends and relations) when several TONS of wine berries took flight.
That’s what’s in store for us. Along with everything else Mother Nature and the farming endeavor can send our way. What are you going to be doing in 105 days?

Flowers in Dijon Clone Chardonnay

It seems everyone is back to work after the long weekend, including the vines. It’s not like you are going to tell 20 year old Pommard vines when to flower, especially those grafted onto 5C. But in the course of putting up our first set of trellis wires, they have decided now is their time. On June 1st we spied our first Pinot Noir flowers, and it was 103 degrees. We chose to commemorate the event with a glass of Pinot in Pink Rosé!

The Harvest Window Appears
Over the past 30 years or so, Pinot Noir wine berries in the Willamette Valley have usually achieved full aroma and flavor development 105 days AFTER flowering. So, we can now pencil in a harvest window, and that is a handy thing to have as we move through the growing season.
From the vine’s point of view, they are simply trying to ripen their seeds and attract some creature to deposit them hither and yon so they can reproduce. Kinda makes you feel bad for seedless grapes.
We just want to make wine. If you are into the Julian calendar, as we are, you can take June 1st (Day 152) and add 105 growing season days to get Day 257. And that day is the first potential day of harvest, September 14th. You can check our Julian Calendar math here.