2014 HARVEST UPDATE from Founder & Winemaker Joe Dobbes
Wow, what a vintage! The successful 2014 harvest started for Dobbes Family Estate on September 3 and finished on October 17th.
This protracted vintage offered Oregon vintners a rare treat not seen since 2009; high quantity and high quality. Mother Nature served us up an early bloom and good set in the vineyard followed by record warm and dry growing conditions throughout the state. There are a lot of smiles by vineyardists, winemakers, winery sales staffs and owners around the state. The Pinot Noir wines are full-bodied with sweet tannins, with generous flavors and fruit ranging from raspberries to blue fruits such as blueberry, blackberry and Bing cherry.
Every vintage has its unique characteristics and flavors, both from a quality/stylistic standpoint and from a logistical position. The land, the hand and Mother Nature are the three players responsible for the quality, character and style of the wine on your dinner table.
The land in which the grapes are grown, its terroir is the chief controlling factor and constant denominator of a wine’s stylistic characteristics year-after-year. Terroir is defined as is the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, interacting with plant genetics, express in agricultural products such as wine, coffee, chocolate, hops, tomatoes, heritage wheat, tea and even the oak which makes up our wine barrels.
A second variable to a wine’s stylistic characteristics and quality are the hand of viticulturist/winemaker whose influence is exhibited by further emphasizing, or de-emphasizing and sculpting what the land gives to the wine through their own vision, experiences and biases.
The third and very significant variable on wine style is Mother Nature. She has a huge influence on the amplitude of what the land is capable of producing.
However, Mother Nature has another defining influence on a vintage, an influence which is not often cited, or understood as a variable to the degree of quality a wine possesses; logistics. Peeking behind the curtain of winemaking and revealing what the average consumer does not see, or likely understand, are the logistics of the vintage. Logistics play a major role in winemaking and can make, or break the quality and character of a vintage and its wine.
The Willamette Valley is considered a cool growing region where our Burgundian and Germanic varietals thrive and sometimes strive to ripen; resulting in well-balanced complex, interesting, fresh and fruit forward wines. However, within our cool growing region we still have significant variation of average growing temperatures each vintage referred to as degree days, or heat units. These vintage variations are responsible for the varying nuances of our wines from vintage-to-vintage and what keep it interesting as a region.
I have often said if you want to prove your mettle, then come to Oregon and make wine. This will make a real man or a woman of one very quickly. Making wine in the Willamette Valley is not for the meek. Every vintage is different and can vary significantly from year-to-year. A wet and rainy vintage will force the winemaker to compress the vintage. A compressed and frenzied vintage forces many logistical challenges, both human and physical including winemaker experience and how to handle a dynamic situation all the way to the physical challenges and factors of tank fermentation space, equipment limitations and course stretch the human aspect of sufficient labor and energy.
Mother Nature’s 2014 harvest was a welcomed gift which allowed us to harvest our vineyards at our leisure and convenience at full ripeness. No compromises.
There’s a story in every sip, and it starts at the vineyard.
At Dobbes, we are passionate about letting the grapes speak. We aren’t in the business of bending nature to our will — that never turns out well. Our job is to bring forth the flavors, the textures, the colors and aromas that the fruit is eager to share with us. And in Oregon, we are blessed with some of the best fruit in the world.
Nature. From early spring until harvest, winemaker Joe Dobbes scrutinizes the vines, selecting the best sites and clones, as well as crop loads. His sole objective is to produce wines true to their varietal character with as much depth, elegance, opulence and balance of flavor possible.
In addition to our own vineyard, we have relationships with some of the best winegrowers in Oregon’s Willamette and Rogue valleys. Dobbes understands the important role terroir plays in the character development of wine, so he carefully selects all of our fruit from vineyards with differing elevations, soil types and clones. The ingredients, after all, are the most important factor in producing the most expressive Pinot Noirs.
Nurture. At harvest and crush, the fruit is fermented and barrel aged separately — essentially producing 23 single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, which Dobbes and his trusted team evaluate individually. Each Pinot Noir lot is then designated for our exquisite cuvées and single-vineyard offerings.
Artistry. Experience and passion come together in the craftsmanship of our superlative Pinot Noirs. Our single-vineyard designate Pinot Noirs are an expression of each vineyard’s unique terroir and a sensory journey for the palate. At the heart of the Joe Dobbes Collection are distinct cuvées which showcase our winemaking talents while staying true to vintage and varietal character.