On a crisp October morn, it is
the first day of the autumn harvest at Evans Creek Vineyard.
Nancy Tappan and her crew are picking merlot grapes. Over
the next week or two, they will harvest the cabernet sauvignon
and cabernet-franc grapes.
Tappan's vineyard is the only commercial
vineyard in Rogue River.
The harvest is late this year because
the wet, cold spring delayed the bud break and then the
cooler-than-normal summer slowed the natural maturation
rate for the berries.
Growers determine the time to pick
by the sugar and acidity levels, and by the actual taste
of the juice. Generally, sugar level should be above 23
on the Brix test.
Tappan's merlot grapes tested at
between 24 and 24.7 on the Brix sugar scale, so she determined
that the first optimum picking time was Oct. 22.
The merelot, cabernet sauvignon
and cabernet franc grape harvest will yield about 15 tons
Nancy plans to be picking all of
these varietals over the next two weeks as they reach
the desirable sugar levels.
Soil, aspect, and the micro climate
of the vineyard are all factors in the quality of the
wine the berries can produce: this vineyard has poor,
shallow soil over rock (only 1.5-3 feet under the surface)
which actually produces a superior grape berry for making
wine (smaller berries have more taste/flavor); the vineyard
has a fine aspect facing southeast which is good for growing
wine; and the hillside plantings assure good sunlight
and frost protection.
This year all the grapes picked
at Evans Creek Vineyard are being sold to Ted Gerber of
Foris Vineyards in Cave Junction.