Posted by: David Stewart | October 2, 2012

2012 could be a stellar year

As I talk to various people working in the Willamette Valley, the overwhelming view of 2012 is that it could be a great year in wine.

And it’s about time.

The previous two years, 2010 and 2011 didn’t seem to have a summer at all. We had rain, gloom and cool temperatures through the whole year. As a result, the 2010 and 2011 Pinot Noir grapes took a very long time to ripen. Besides the low yields from the lack of sunshine, the grapes hung on the vines so long that migrating birds found a ready-made feast and ate a lot of the crop. The other risk of delaying your harvest is that the winter rains will soak the fruit and encourage disease, meaning more grapes thrown away when they are sorted.

In contrast, we had a very nice summer in 2012. This year has been exceptionally dry, in fact the three months from July to September had only a quarter inch of rain measured at the airport, which is the least since records were kept in the 1940s. In spite of the dryness, the nights usually cooled off well, making for ideal growing conditions.

Harvest is in full swing now, and comments are coming back very strong. “Vintage could be epic” tweets Oregonian wine columnist Katherine Cole at @kcoleuncorked. When the weather is so dry, there are few clusters to throw away at sort. “Vintage 2012 is underway at Scott Paul and it rocks.”

Of course, it’s premature to tell how good the year is until the wine has a chance to ferment and spend some time in barrels. But all the indications are that 2012 could be one of those years like 2008 when Willamette Valley Pinots will be outstanding.

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