King Estate Vineyard Manager Meliton Martinez estimates that bud break is still just around the corner, but other signs of Spring are popping up all across the estate. Daffodils, tulips, and native wildflowers decorate the landscape, and sheep borrowed from a local rancher dutifully graze on weeds between rows of grape vines. Our honey bees are diligently working, too. They return to their hives covered in pollen, which eventually becomes honey that we harvest and make available for purchase in the King Estate Visitor Center.
Garden Manager Jessie Russell just finished creating a walking path through the oak forest at the bottom of the hill below the main winery building, where visitors can take a stroll or sit in the shade and enjoy lovely views from all angles. She has also begun planting spinach, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables intended for use in the restaurant at King Estate, or to be donated to Food for Lane County. Nearby in one of the ponds, Bullfrogs and Red-winged Blackbird harmoniously feast on insects. As the prospect of sunshine has become more promising, many visitors take a glass of wine out to our patio to enjoy the view.
Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley (aka the place we call home) experienced an early snowfall a couple of weeks ago which blanketed the winery in a glistening layer of snow. Enjoy these photographs taken by employees Christina Miles, Jessie Russell, Danielle Lewis, Rick Harder, and others.
Only the most stubborn autumn leaves remain on our vines this time of year. As the end of autumn nears, we offer a photo gallery of some of the season’s beautiful colors, and bid it farewell as we prepare to welcome winter to the estate.
On the evening of September 29th, King Estate winery hosted Cascades Raptor Center’s 2nd Annual Benefit Dinner. The benefit’s 93 guests enjoyed a 5 course meal with wine pairings, and got the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few of CRC’s resident birds of prey, like Dmitri the Eagle Owl.
This year, the focus of the event was to introduce CRC’s Flight Training Arena Project and to raise funds towards construction costs. CRC regularly receives phone calls from the public inquiring about flight shows, which, without a dedicated space, they are currently unable to provide. Regular flight opportunities would not only attract more visitors to their nature center (which already sees 15,000+ general public visitors annually) and greatly enhance the visitor experience, it would also provide irreplaceable enrichment and training benefits to the wildlife hospital’s resident education birds.
On Saturday morning around 4AM at King Estate Winery near Eugene, Oregon we officially began harvest for the 2012 vintage on our own organic estate. This marks our 21st vintage since our inception in 1991 and our first harvest in 1992. Two crews harvested over 20 tons of Pinot Noir from a vineyard block near the solar panels on the northeast side of the property. Vineyard Manager Meliton Marinez was impressed, “I’m very pleased with the maturity and ripening of the fruit. We’re having a really good year, and the weather forecast is promising,” he said. The start of harvest is an exciting time at King Estate, and crews will be working 24/7 to process the grapes. We began bringing in grapes from off-site vineyards during the previous week.
At King Estate Winery, where we have over 475 acres of organic grapes planted, the majority of the vineyard blocks are now between 5 and 25% verasion, with some much further ahead. The following blocks are those that are farthest ahead this year: Block 4G on the south side of the property is at about 85% color, and is planted to Pinot Noir clone 113 on RG rootstock, it was green thinned today. Block 16B near the center of the property, just south of the main winery building is at 75% color. It is planted to Pinot Noir clone 115 on SO4 rootstock and will be green thinned tomorrow. Blocks 28C and 28D are in the far northeast corner of the property, both are planted to Pinot Noir clone 777 on 3309 and 101-14 rootstocks and they are both at about 80% color. It is possible that the entire site will be at 100% veraison by the middle of next week. Currently the property at King Estate has accumulated 1,350 GDD units which puts us close to where we were this time in 2010, however the outlook is much better as it appears that this September will be much dryer. During September 2010 we saw about 2.5 inches of rain during the month, currently the long term forecast for September look very promising, which bodes very well for the 2012 vintage.
King Estate Winery
BNOW 84 and BNOW 85 are sister Barn Owls that were found in Salem. Cascades Raptor Center (their rehabilitator) uses names like BNOW 84 & 85 to avoid getting too attached to the birds of prey that they release back to the wild. These two baby owls found on June 5th after they fell from their nest into a stack of hay bales at only a few days old. They were taken to Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center in Salem and then transferred to Cascades Raptor Center on June 8th. The owlets had excellent nutrition but had some developmental problems, possibly from their eggs not being turned by the parents or from being lodged in the hay bales. BNOW 84 was bow-legged and BNOW 85’s legs were sticking out and she was reluctant to bend her knees. Her wing tips were sticking out also.
After being treated at Cascades Raptor Center for over two months, the owlets were ready to be released back into the wild at King Estate. King Estate is an ideal environment for Barn Owls because there is plenty of prey, room to roam, and no harmful pesticides. King Estate has nesting boxes for owls and other birds of prey around the estate where the owls are released. Once they are placed in the boxes and settle in for a couple hours, the door is opened and they are free to fly into the night.
Below Carrie Sigloh, Operations Coordinator, and Erland an intern from Norway, release the rehabilitated sister owlets at King Estate Winery on August 27th, 2012.
During the growing season, our winemakers closely observe the growth in the vineyard on our organic estate and also venture beyond our own 1,033 acre property to make the rounds all over Oregon and Washington wine country. They do this throughout the summer, visiting the 40+ vineyards that grow grapes for our wines. This update for the first week of August, details their observations thus far on our own organic estate.
This weeks vineyard tour showed we are still on track. Vines have set a healthy crop load that is representative of great quality. The canopy growth has slowed and the vines are starting to show focus on the grapes. The hot dry weather has been great on the vines lately, giving full even canopies for consistent ripening later. Looks like we are starting to approach lag phase.
- Christopher Hudson, Assistant Winemaker
During the growing season, our winemakers closely observe the growth in the vineyard on our organic estate and also venture beyond our own 1,033 acre property to make the rounds all over Oregon and Washington wine country. They do this throughout the summer, visiting the 40+ vineyards that grow grapes for our wines. This update for the third week of July, details their observations thus far on our own organic estate.
This week has shown that King Estate has been receiving ideal weather for a good growing season. Optimal temperatures have been putting the vineyard crew in full swing of training and shoot positioning. Our vineyard team has been doing an excellent job keeping up with the speed of growth in the vineyard. Across the estate we are starting to show good signs of fruit set. Our vines are looking healthy, well-kept and fruitful.
- Christopher Hudson, Assistant Winemaker