VINTAGE 2018’s growing season started hot and dry through spring and summer, but relief was just around the corner. A hearty rain weeks before harvest and cool temperatures in September and October slowed ripening and gave the fruit additional hang-time. Harvest came late with small, intensely flavored berries with a high skin-to-juice ratio. After a slow start, the second half of harvest saw the simultaneous ripening of multiple blocks and a veritable “crush” in the fermentation hall. Once again, we were thankful for the added capacity of our 2013 cellar expansion and a crew of seasoned pros in the vineyard and the cellar. These are wines of ample flavors and high maturity levels. The Pinot Noirs are bold and fruit-forward with higher than average tannins. In the white wines, expect more tropical fruit aromas in addition to the classic stone-fruit aromas. This is a great vintage for those who appreciate boldness in cool-climate varietals. 2018 wines are highly intriguing, their intense richness balanced by lifted tones, coming from a warm growing season that thankfully concluded in a cool autumn.
Our Pinot Gris is hand-harvested from select hillside vineyards in the northern Willamete Valley. Pinot Gris has long been a focus at Elk Cove – our Estate Vineyard boasts some of the oldest Pinot Gris vines in Oregon, dating back to 1985. Three of our other estate vineyard sites are also planted with Pinot Gris, including 50 acres on steep sloped Mount Richmond Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Planted in a high-density format, all our Pinot Gris undergoes shoot and crop thinning for low yields to maximize quality and concentration.
The Willamette Valley has the perfect climate for this delicate cool weather white wine. We have enough sunlight and warmth for ripening, but our cool evenings help retain varietal character and prevent over-ripening. We whole-cluster press our Pinot Gris grapes, then ferment the juice at very cool temperatures in small stainless steel tanks. This gentle treatment protects the aromatic qualities and enhances the natural richness of the Pinot Gris grapes, creating our most popular white wine.