The weather in the Eola Hills of Oregon is about to blow up as a big storm system drops out of the Gulf of Alaska on Saturday afternoon, the 23rd of October. We are picking the Riesling at Tunkalilla Vineyard this morning and hope to have it all in the winery by the time the wind and rain arrives.
In this coolest and latest of seasons, every winery in Oregon is only part way through the harvest of the region’s signature Pinot Noir crop. They are all hoping that there will be more sunshine after the 3 to 4 day system passes but I think they are also resigned to having harvested the best of it already and then to selecting their way through the balance after the damage of the storm is assessed and the vineyards have dried out. The crops are 20% smaller than average due to poor set and quantities will be further impacted by the impending weather.
We have just returned from California where exactly the same situation is occurring with their signature Cabernet Sauvignon crop.
2010 in America’s West Coast vineyards serves as a harsh reminder that despite the long-term realities of climate change that the immediate impact of weather systems over 1 to 10 year periods includes inevitable returns to wet and cold difficult vintages. Maybe that’s what we face in the vineyards of the south-east of Australia in 2011?