Evans Creek Vineyard:
Grape Expectations

Special to the Rogue River Press
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
—Rogue River, Oregon

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 of grapes.

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.

Rene Mercado harvests merlow grapes on the first day of picking.