Here are a few glimpses of WINTER here at Johan Vineyards. It’s been quite the winter, with a number of snowstorms, ice and sleet, and overall chilly wintery weather here in Oregon! Upside: the beautiful blankets of snow have been an absolutely stunning landscape to work in, a nice contrast to the wet rainy winters we’re used to in the Willamette Valley.
Despite the chilly temps, our pruning crew has been working hard to finish pruning and tying down the vineyard, along with other winter maintenance projects. In the cellar, we’ve just bottled a number of our 2015 reserve wines, including our Drueskall Pinot Gris (skin-fermented Gris) and our Blaufränkisch — pictured above. We just had our typical “Febuary Fake-out”, two days of gorgeous, T-shirt worthy, sunny weather that puts all of us in spring planning mode. Looking forward to the onset of spring, and another exciting growing season. Let the count down begin!
Spring is in the air here at Johan Vineyards! Trees on the property are blooming, the daffodils and tulips have sprung, and buds in the vineyard are about to push. We have enjoyed an especially wet winter, filling the soil and land with reserves needed to sustain us through the growing season. Pruning in the vineyard is complete, and the vines are prepared for their next season of life. Cover crops blanket our vine rows, bringing erosion control and stability through the rainy season, while providing a variety of nutrients to the soil and the vines. Bud break is upon us, kicking the growing season into gear!
In the cellar, we are continuously pleased upon review of what the 2015 vintage has brought us. While 2015 was one of the warmest growing seasons we’ve experienced here in Oregon, we feel blessed to have healthy soils and the winds of the Van Duzer Corridor, giving us a nice buffer to grow well-balanced, cool climate fruit. We are excited to bottle the rest of our 2014 reserve wines this upcoming spring and summer, as time and patience have paid off and the wines have benefited from the extended time in barrel.
While the vines were dormant, winter brought time for reflection and planning for the new growing season. Spring brings rejuvenated energy and life for new growth and perspective. We are excited to implement some new techniques and experiments, with a continued focus balancing our farm’s ecosystem through diversification and regenerative farming. We look forward to the upcoming growing season, and are happy to release these new wines to you. Enjoy!
The month of June and the beginning of July have been very busy here at Johan Vineyards. Like everyone else in the valley, we fought our own battle with Mother Nature and the higher-than-normal temperatures in June. While it limited our ability to trim the vineyard canopies and remove leaves around the fruit, it gave us plenty of time to focus on the less rigorous and more enjoyable parts of winemaking. In all, we tasted over fifty barrels of wine from the 2014 vintage and selected the blends that will become our 2014 releases.
We typically start by going through and tasting every single barrel of Pinot Noir and giving it a simple letter grade. As in school an “A” is the best, and “B” second, however, we also recognize that the different bottlings of Pinot we make each have a unique character and flavor profile. Our goal is to keep with the philosophy of each of these bottlings and blend the appropriate barrels to meet these goals. The “A” barrels don’t automatically make it into the top-tier Pinots that are made, but usually become the backbone of our Estate Pinot Noir. For our Nils Pinot, we look for barrels that have more weight, extraction, and depth. Only eight barrels are chosen for this lot so tasting a variety of blends is essential to getting the profile just right – typically barrels with new oak are always finalists for the Nils bottling. The Three Barrel Pinot is our top-tier and here is where we look for the three most interesting Pinot Noirs in the cellar, and try to highlight those outliers and preserve their unique aromatics and fruit concentrations.
At the end of a long week of tasting, blending, and tasting again – we finally select and mark the barrels in preparation for racking. The final barrels are racked into holding containers until they can be filtered and bottled at a later date. In the meantime, we spend a good deal of time washing and cleaning the empty barrels to make sure they are ready to go for the 2015 harvest. It’s a lengthy process that takes all of our staff working together as a team to accomplish, but at the end of the day we are proud of the new wines that will be available from the 2014 harvest.
The final act in the show will be the bottling of all of these blended wines at the end of July. We’ll be sure to get some amazing photos and videos of our next bottling day coming up in a couple of weeks.