2020 Harvest Report: Tualatin Valley, Oregon

It’s time. My backyard row of vines survived a week of smoke from Oregon’s fires and now face a deluge of rain. Rains last year waterlogged vines, berries split, fruit flies moved in, leading me to triage the harvest. Luckily, through obsessive sorting, SO2, and a year of lees aging, my few bottles of 2019 turned out pretty crisp, clean, if a bit low in alcohol (10% abv).

This year, with iPhone forecast in hand, I pick for healthy fruit.

Watch the me and the Pinot Blanc in action:

Once in the carboy, another light dust of SO2 and Lavlin EC-1118 yeast drawn from Champagne for neutral, variety correct wines that clarify well (I don’t trust my native yeasts, which probably include toddler).

The next day, I picked and squeezed some vibrant Riesling and overripe Chardonnay into separate baby carboys (carbabies?) and inoculated them with the same EC-1118. Lastly, begrudgingly, came the reds. Birds had eaten most of my 777 and Dijon Pinot Noir (I netted the vines far too late), but my Meunier had dodged the winged ones.

Meunier clusters

I hand-crushed every decent looking cluster into open top fermentor, then pulled out th stems, peppered the few inches of skins and juice with Lalvin Bourgovin RC212 a Burgundy isolated strain used by everyone. Next year I will net all the vines before veraison starts to avoid the avian pests. Without expensive tests, fermentation will have to reveal the grapes suffered from smoke taint or not. Everyone is bubbling away now. Fingers crossed.


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