The 2017 growing season has been nearly ideal, even with the record-breaking temperatures in early August. Veraison, or color change, is under way in the vineyard now, most evident in the darker colored Pinot Noir grapes and, to a lesser extent, Pinot Gris. This marks a dramatic step in the march towards harvest.
After several early vintages in a row, we’re seeing a return to normal this year. Fruit from warmer southern Oregon – Pinot Gris and Chardonnay – will come in first, probably right after Labor Day. Next are the Washington grapes, starting with Syrah and Merlot. Fruit will trickle in during the first half of September and then, when Willamette Valley fruit begins to come in around Sept. 21, crush will be fully upon us.
The grapes took the early August heat in stride. The lack of rainfall over the summer was mitigated by adequate levels of moisture stored in the soil from our very wet winter and spring. Crews are now going through and trimming off excess, damaged and greener fruit, which amounts to about 33% of the fruit set at the estate. Thinning helps optimize the quality of the remaining clusters. King Estate is on track for another outstanding vintage.
Ray Nuclo, Director of Viticulture