2011 has been an epic year for Oregon’s Wine Country. As always, weather impacts everything we do. With a cool late spring followed by a normal summer after July 4th, we entered the ripening of the grapes over 3 weeks behind the average growing season. That meant the time required to ripen the fruit would require letting the fruit hang into November. We have never harvested in November and the weather can begin to get a little dicey towards the end of October.
Fortunately, the weather held out for us and we harvested on Nov. 2nd. The fruit was clean, well developed, low in sugar, and higher in acidity. The most important development was that the flavors and complexity set into the fruit ahead of the maturity of the fruit and the increase in sugar. As a result the grapes were ripe in measures of brown seeds, tannins, flavor profiles, and pulp liquidation. Just low in sugar and high in acid.
The holistic/biodynamic/natural way of making wine Youngberg Hill follows doesn’t add things to the wine making process. The opposite approach is a more manipulative process to make a wine fit standards rather than what the vintage may dictate. In a manipulative process you can add sugar, deacidify, use different yeasts, or any other number of things to augment what may may be perceived as a fallen short in the vineyard.
As somewhat of a purest, Youngberg Hill tends to resist the adjustments to stay true to the vintage and what that year had to offer. At the same time, we do want the wine to be as good as it can be. So we work very hard in the winery to protect the integrity of the vintage and to maintain the characteristics of the vineyard and of that vintage.
2011 will be a classic vintage that will herald back to what our founders of Oregon Pinot Noir thought great. Elegant, low alcohol wines that will drink fabulously with food and age extremely well. I look forward to raising my glass of 2011 Pinot.
If you helped out at any of the vineyards/wineries over the 2011 year we would love to hear about your experiences.