New Buds on Pinot Noir Grapevines

Elise StimacGrowing

Springtime buds on grape vines on Three Feathers Estate, Chehalem Mountain AVA, Yamhill County, Oregon, United States.
Springtime buds on grape vines on Three Feathers Estate, Chehalem Mountain AVA, Yamhill County, Oregon, United States.

Springtime buds on grape vines on Three Feathers Estate, Chehalem Mountain AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon, United States.

New Buds

We go out frequently to see if the vines are coming to life. Today I could detect the tiniest little swelling on a new bud. We have had a record breaking winter of ice, snow, rain and mud with many slides in the valley.  With the coming of spring it has warmed a bit and we have had some dry days but there is still a lot of water and the ground is not dry enough to do any work. The vines have been pruned so we’re all ready for the new season in the vineyard.

It is hard to believe that inside this almost imperceptible white bump is a miracle of foliage and fruit waiting to burst forth.

Harvesting and Custom Crush at Lady Hill Winery

Elise StimacWine making

Three Feathers pinot noir grapes sorted and de-stemmed and ready for the fermentation tanks, Lady Hill Winery, Saint Paul, Oregon, USA.
Christine Stimac, Three Feathers Estate owner, looking at the first harvest grapes in fermentation tanks at Ladyhill Winery, Saint Paul, Oregon, USA.

Christine Stimac, Three Feathers Estate owner, looking at the first harvest grapes in fermentation tanks at Lady Hill Winery, Saint Paul, Oregon, USA.

Three Feathers pinot noir grapes sorted and de-stemmed and ready for the fermentation tanks, Ladyhill Winery, Saint Paul, Oregon, USA.

Three Feathers pinot noir grapes sorted and de-stemmed and ready for the fermentation tanks, Lady Hill Winery, Saint Paul, Oregon, USA.

Christine Stimac, Three Feathers Estate owner, presses the first

Christine Stimac, Three Feathers Estate owner, presses the first harvest grapes in fermentation tanks in the company of winemaker Dan Duryee of Lady Hill Winery, Saint Paul, Oregon, USA.

Custom Crush at Lady Hill Winery with Winemaker Dan Duryee

Recent genetic studies of grape varieties has identified Pinot Noir as one of the oldest grapes in the world. A small cluster variety, Pinot Noir has a reputation for being a finicky grape. It prefers cool nights and warm days. The wine is light in color and flavor and on the dry side compared to some other Red Wines. It’s flavor is subtle, not assertive.

The Willamette Valley, Oregon has the perfect conditions to grow Pinot. In 2016, we experienced a relatively dry and warm spring followed by a dry and warm summer. Perfect conditions for a great harvest. The only “damper” on this was an early start to our rainy season – just as we were starting harvest in mid-September! Everyone in the valley was doing a balancing act between getting picked with the proper amount of sugars (Brix) and picking before the rains came in earnest.

Three Feathers 2016 Pinot Noir was made in the Burgundian style with minimal manipulation so the character of the fruit is primary. The fruit was picked, sorted, and de-stemmed. After 21 days in the fermentation tanks it was gently pressed and barreled in four neutral oak barrels. The wine was left in the barrels for at least 10 months. The Reserve will be bottled after 16 months.

The wine is a ruby red color with an aroma of fruits and berries. It has low alcohol and acidity so the flavor is pleasant, mellow and bright.

A total of 100 cases were made.

First Grape Harvest at Three Feathers

Elise StimacWine making

First barrel sample of custom crush 2016 Three Feathers Pinot Noir from barrels at Lady Hill Winery, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA.
First barrel sample of custom crush 2016 Three Feathers Pinot Noir from barrels at Ladyhill Winery, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA.

First barrel sample of custom crush 2016 Three Feathers Pinot Noir from barrels at Lady Hill Winery, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA.

First Grape Harvest

Block 1, Pinot Noir #667, Brix 22, TA 3.1

Friends and Family gathered to pick our first grapes. We sent 12 tubs to the state-of-the-art wine making facility at Lady Hill Winery in St. Paul for a custom crush.  We watched as the wine making team, Dan and Tony, escorted our grapes on the path to greatness!

The berries were weighed and measured, sorted, de-stemmed and put into vats to ferment. The grapes rested on their skins as they gave up their juices until October 7th.  The first free juice was siphoned off into an oak barrel.  Then the grapes were gently pressed and as the juices were released they were put into each subsequent barrels (four altogether) to age.

As we tasted the product we were surprised at the sweetness of the first juices at harvest.  Then as the fermenting process began the juice became more like wine at every stage.  The last tasting was done in November and the character of the wine was starting to show.

Bottling is schedule for July 1st, 2017.  Fingers crossed.