Rain then heat set up wine grape harvest

Pinot Noir grapes at Montinore Estate in Forest Grove, Sept. 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Pinot Noir grapes at Montinore Estate in Forest Grove, Sept. 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

FOREST GROVE, Ore. (KOIN) — Last week’s rain and this week’s heat is a good combination for Oregon’s wine grape harvest — as long as the heat doesn’t stay too long.

In Forest Grove, Montinore Estate will begin harvesting the grapes next week. The warm, dry summer put the harvest about three weeks ahead of schedule.

Rudy Marchesi is the owner of Montinore Estate in Forest Grove, a vineyard in the Willamette Valley, Sept. 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Rudy Marchesi is the owner of Montinore Estate in Forest Grove, a vineyard in the Willamette Valley, Sept. 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

The owner of Montinore, Rudy Marchesi, said he keeps his eye on the long-range forecast. For him, “Continuous rain, continuous moisture, that’s a big problem.”

And if the temperature “gets over 95 for an extended period (the grapes) just shut down and go into a holding pattern.”

The pinot noir grapes are baking in the 95 degree heat just days after more than an inch of rain fell.

“The risk with the rain is you can start developing some fungus on there, so this 90 degree heat discourage any fungal growth that had any idea of settling on our grapes,” he said. However, he’s hoping for a 20 degree cool down by next week.

“What we like is to have things moderate as we get close to picking time and then we get perfectly balanced grapes like we got last year.”

At this time, Marchesi is bringing in wine samples, running those samples through the laboratory and checking for sugar levels.

Matt Payne visited Montinore Estate Wednesday and sipped pinot gris. He said he hopes the grapes enjoy the heat as much as he does.

“You can definitely tell the difference in the wine based on the year,” he said. “It’s something I think about.”

If everything works out, Marchesi said this could be one of the best vintages in recent years.

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Stay with KOIN 6 News for all your latest weather information.

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