Earliest-ever grape harvest underway in Oregon

'I think 2015 could be just as good as 2014, if not better'

A celebratory bottle of sparkling wine was popped as Stoller Winery began harvesting grapes, Aug. 26, 2015 (KOIN)
A celebratory bottle of sparkling wine was popped as Stoller Winery began harvesting grapes, Aug. 26, 2015 (KOIN)

DAYTON, Ore. (KOIN) — On this late August morning in the Dundee Hills of Oregon field workers at Stoller Vineyards began snipping grapes, hauling buckets down the long row of vines to big collection bins in the earliest harvest ever.

If Goldilocks would have been a winemaker, this not-too-hot and not-too-cold grape growing season would be very much to her liking. It’s been warm in the day and cooled off at night.

That has winemakers like vineyard manager Rob Schultz dreaming about another spectacular year.

Grapes ready to harvest in Yamhill County, Aug. 26, 2015 (KOIN)
Grapes ready to harvest in Yamhill County, Aug. 26, 2015 (KOIN)

“Honestly, I think 2015 could be just as good as 2014, if not better, if the harvest goes well,” he told KOIN 6 News.

At Stoller Vineyards, they began harvesting enough grapes to make 6000 bottles of sparkling wine. They expected to harvest around 8 tons of grapes before 11 a.m.

Schultz said they begin picking in the lower elevations because it is just a little bit warmer. “We rise from 250 feet to 650 feet, and there is a delay in ripening by about 2 to 3 weeks.”

The Oregon Wine Board‘s Michelle Kaufman said great grapes make great wine, and great wine adds more worldwide demand for Oregon wines.

She agrees this could be a banner year.

“At least on par with last year,” she said. “They might be a little bit bigger and a little bit richer but they’re going to be at least as nice as the wines that came out in 2014, some of which called that a vintage of a lifetime.”

Oregon’s $3.3 billion wine industry employs more than 17,000 people who earn a total of $500 million.

The vineyards are excited.

“This is really the start,” said associate winemaker Kate Payne Brown. “I mean it’s been a long time coming in the vineyard and we’re watching these vines grow and the clusters get bigger and all of the sudden it’s go time.”

KOIN 6 Meteorologist Sally Showman contributed to this report.

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