In the vineyard, much of our fate lies in the hands of the weatherman. No two years have the same weather pattern, therefore no two vintages yield the same expression of our vineyard. As revealed by Vice President of Vineyard Operations, Jason Tosch, characteristics of the 2018 vintage can only be predicted a week before harvest due to unpredictable weather conditions.
During a year that experienced colder than average conditions, fruit will be less ripe and more tart. The excess water from rain creates higher levels of acidity and lower levels of sugar. Lack of sugar results in a lower percentage of alcohol, creating a wine with a lighter body.
In contrast, a year that is warmer than average will yield a harvest of ripe fruit that is sweet and soft. Lowered acidity results in higher sugar and alcohol content, culminating a fuller body.
At Stoller, we take great care in harvesting our grapes at optimal maturity. In order to determine ripeness, a representative sample of each fruit is macerated - the process of soaking crushed grapes, seeds and stems into a must - to mimic the crushing process. The residual juice from maceration is then evaluated for its brix, which is the measurement of dissolved sugar within the liquid. Sugar ultimately indicates the potential alcohol content present within the fruit and serves as a sign for when to harvest.
Associate Winemaker Kate Payne-Brown leads the production team in the ceremonial art of sabrage to celebrate the beginning of harvest. This year’s vintage was kicked off with the harvest of Pinot grapes for the 2018 LaRue’s Brut Rosé, the sixth vintage of sparkling wine at Stoller Family Estate.
The vision of this elegant wine was brought to fruition by LaRue Stoller, proprietor of Stoller Family Estate. When persuading her husband Bill on why our estate should pursue sparkling wine, she stated, “It will make Stoller just a notch above any place else.”
And that it did.
We are proud to name our LaRue’s Brut Rosé after the woman who made it a possibility. Our 2014 LaRue’s Brut Rosé is bright and energetic, making it the perfect choice to christen harvest 2018.
As the birds welcome the day with their morning song and the sun reluctantly begins to assume its post in the clear September sky, a special feeling is in the air. In the vineyard, the sound of footsteps can be detected. The footsteps come to a halt and the “snip” of a pruner rings throughout the vineyard. This is no ordinary day at Stoller Family Estate. Today marks the first day of harvest.
After testing the fruit for physiological ripeness, a process that includes examining factors such as brix, pH, acidity, and flavor development, it was determined that the Pinot Noir for the 2018 LaRue’s Brut Rosé would be the first to leave the vineyard. Hand-picked in the early morning to beat the heat, the clusters are gathered in five-gallon buckets, loaded into bins, and transported to the winery to begin the process of becoming sparkling wine.
The 2018 vintage is officially underway.
If you haven’t heard it through the grapevine - Stoller Family Estate was named the “Best Tasting Room in the Nation” by USA Today 10Best. We are thrilled to gain national recognition and welcome fellow wine enthusiasts from around the world. A warm thank you to everyone who participated in the voting process!
Cheers to a great tasting room and an even better community of tasters!
Are drones the future of vineyard management? Not only are they able to capture epic shots of our vineyard, Dr. Greg Crustinger of Scholar Farms reveals how drones are instrumental in vineyard management through vegetation mapping. Using aerial footage that is transformed into digitized heat maps, the vineyard is divided and assigned into levels of necessary care. Through this technology, Crustinger is able to assess the health of our vineyard and pinpoint problem areas. If that wasn’t cool enough, a thumb drive of the digitized map can be inserted into smart tractors or sprayers where action can be taken in precise locations.
Welcome to modern farming!
This wine saw mostly whole berry, and primarily native yeast fermentation, before aging primarily in neutral French oak for almost a year. We are excited to bottle our 2017 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir.
The 2017 vintage presented a challenge with a cold winter and a cooler than normal spring. However, ideal weather after flowering ensured a healthy fruit set. Although the summer was dry and hot, the vines did not undergo drought or stress. By September, everything was on track for a traditional, “normal” Oregon harvest in the Willamette Valley.
Stay tuned to experience the classic taste of the Dundee Hills when it’s released next spring.
Calling all wine enthusiasts, foodies, and adventurers! It’s time to add Oregon to your summer bucket list. Sit back and relax in one of our adirondack chairs as you enjoy superb wine, weather, and scenery. Oregon is not just a land flowing with wine. It also offers the perfect blend of excellent shopping, delicious food, and outdoor adventures waiting to be explored.
Treat yourself to a well-deserved trip to wine country and discover why everyone is falling in love with Oregon. After all, nothing beats summer in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s getting hot in the vineyard - and it’s not just from the sunshine. Favored for cultivation, hermaphroditic grapevines contain both male and female reproductive organs, allowing them to self-pollinate.
In short - during fertilization, the calyptra, a structure protecting the undeveloped grape cell, sheds to free the pollen-producing male stamens. Landing on the centralized female stigma, the pollen is delivered to the ovary through a tube-like structure called the style. Upon completing its journey to the ovary, the pollen performs fertilization and the ovule develops into a grape seed. Just like that, flowering is underway.
Welcome to Plant Physiology 101.
As the sun breaks from the clouds and tasting room guests rise from their rain-induced hibernations, the countdown to harvest begins. In the vineyard, the Dundee Hills Pinot Noir is starting to show signs of individual florets while their neighbor, the Dundee Hills Chardonnay, has already reached full bloom. Flowering is a crucial time for the vineyard as wind, rain and cold weather could dislodge the delicate flowers. Roughly 400 feet up the hillside, Pinot Noir for our Legacy tier wines shows a much slower rate of development. Vice President of Vineyard Operations, Jason Tosch, points to elevation as the primary explanation for bloom disparity.
Our vineyard is divided into 101 meticulously farmed sections of seven varieties, ranging 220 to 640 feet in elevation. Just like the suntan Oregonians desperately need at this time of year, grapes at higher elevations develop an increased pigment concentration resulting in firm tannins, vivid color, and thicker skin to weather climate changes. The concentrated sunlight and cooler temperatures experienced by grapes at higher altitudes slows the ripening process and creates an excellent balance between flavor-activating sugars, acidity, and other chemical complexities. The combination of elevation and our volcanic soil help sweep rainfall from the roots and protect the vine.
Elevation creates unique differences between each of our wine tiers and our vintages, giving us an opportunity to showcase the many expressions of our vineyard. Click here to learn more about our vineyard with our interactive map.