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Stoller Family Estate - A Family Vineyard and Winery
The Vineyard

A Year in the Vineyard

 

Late Winter Pruning

Pruning in the vineyard

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Pruning.

The vineyard cycle begins in late winter when the vines are cane pruned by hand — an incredibly laborious process.

The crew carefully selects the canes best suited to bear grapes for the coming vintage, leaving two to four fruiting canes per vine, plus two spurs — the source of next year’s fruiting canes.

Spring Budbreak

Budbreak

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Bud break.

In mid to late April, the vines begin to "push," and budbreak occurs. At this point we are "at the whim" of nature. Luckily, the south-facing slope of the vineyard and nearby river seem to keep us frost-free after budbreak. Or maybe we owe our thanks to the rainy Oregon spring.

June Flowering

Flowering

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Flowering.

Delicate and tiny, grape flowers can be dislodged by wind, rain, or even cold weather. If a good-sized storm hits the vineyard during the crucial flowering period, much of the crop may be lost before the flowers self-pollinate, or "set," to form berries.

Trellising for Summer

Trellising

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Trellising.

Trellising allows sunlight to reach the fruit, hastening the ripening process. It also increases airflow to the clusters, allowing the wind to cool the fruit in the evening hours, an important part of maintaining acidity in the vineyard. The increased airflow may keep disease in check, as mold and fungus prefer warm, still, moist air.

Lastly, trellising makes life much easier for the harvest crew. The ability to properly sort fruit in the vineyard relies heavily upon the ability to actually "see" it. Having an unimpeded view of the clusters allows the crew to pick only the choicest, ripest clusters.

Green Harvesting

Green Harvest

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Green harvest.

We often remove 50% of the clusters during green harvest, since a heavy crop load is more difficult to ripen properly and may result in under-ripe grapes or grapes without much character.

Green harvest reduces the crop load early in the growing season, allowing the plant to focus its energies on the remaining fruit. Vines with lighter crop loads tend to produce more intensely flavored grapes, which in turn produce more interesting wine. In growing areas that are prone to fall rains, such as in Oregon, crop levels are reduced dramatically to ensure timely ripening.

Veraison

At verasion the grapes begin to change colors

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Veraison.

Veraison is the stage at which the grapes begin to change colors. At this point, we can begin to speculate on any number of things, including the cluster weights, average yield per acre, and potential harvest date. In essence, it is the beginning of the end.

Summer Maintenance

The period after green harvest is one of the most stressful times for the vineyard crew. Over and above just hoping for warm days, cool evenings, and the absence of rain, the vineyard's development requires great attention to detail.

Our aim is to find a light-handed equilibrium between what mother nature gives us and those measures we can effect to be sure we harvest top-notch fruit at the end of the growing season. These efforts may include:

  • coordinating the strategic removal of leaves to expose the grapes to sun and beneficial airflow (canopy management),
  • meting out irrigation in precise quantities to feed plants just the right amount of water at just the right time,
  • pursuing a meticulous regimen of cultivation, vine hedging, and carrying out whatever additional fine-tuning of the green harvest is deemed beneficial based on crop estimates.

Fall Harvest

Harvest on a sunny day

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Harvesting grapes.

As fall approaches we begin testing the fruit for physiological ripeness and flavor, before we decide which rows are ready for harvest. This entails several trials, some very clinical and others based on our perception of whether or not certain flavor characteristics have developed fully.

The grapes are hand picked in the early morning hours before the fall sun has had a chance to warm the vineyard. The vineyard crew is dispatched to a particular block as the first light hits the hillside. Using small, incredibly sharp bypass pruners, the crew sorts through the clusters of each vine, picking only what is evenly ripened and disease free.

The clusters are placed into small picking buckets, which are then loaded into quarter-ton bins and transported to the winery.



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16161 N. E. McDougall Rd • Dayton, Oregon 97114
Phone: 503.864.3404 • Fax: 503.864.2580
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