Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Vintage Guide

From 2010 to 1999


A year of waiting caused a lot of stress among growers. A small crop got off to a very slow start and remained a full two to three weeks behind schedule right through harvest. Fortunately the weather afforded producers the hangtime they needed to bring in ripe fruit, yet the cool weather kept sugars down and acidity vibrant. This has the potential to be an exceptional vintage with vividly flavored wines that trade power for elegance. An exciting vintage, which I am looking forward to tasting over the years as I expect them to age very well indeed. 
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Too early to definitively state how the vintage will pan out, though early signs are promising. Yields were rather high and even though the weather threw many a curveball at growers -- a summer of record highs and record lows, for example -- and an unforeseen cool snap to end harvest, most producers were able to make rich wines along the lines of 2006. Immature -- Hold (2012-?)

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Enjoying Vintage Willamette Valley in NYC, 2011


Another scary vintage for winemakers, yet one that turned out to highlight the rollercoaster nature of vintages in Oregon. 2008 was a cool year, second only to 1999, a vintage with which it shares many similarities. The fact that both winemakers and vines have an additional nine years of experience and age under their collective belts gives 2008 an edge, making it potentially one of Oregon’s finest.

Very low yields, cool weather, no problematic rainfall, and a fine harvest season have produced wines with rich, even bold flavors, lowish alcohols, and fine tannins. At this stage, the wines lack some of the early appealing fat of riper vintages, but are so balanced, complex and elegant that they are truly exciting. Compare the different styles of 2007 and 2008 and you’ll quickly learn the character of the best vineyards, and the worst for that matter. These two vintages together typify what makes these wines so exciting! Immature -- Hold (2012-2030)

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Adelsheim Calkins Lane Vineyard Harvest, 2008


The pundits announced that this was going to be a stinker before the grapes were even harvested! What began with great potential -- the warm spring and moderate summer temperatures had the grapes well on their way -- was seemingly dashed by significant rain throughout October as well as nighttime temperatures as low as 40F. This is a season that revealed the best terroirs, producing ripe fruit that was harvested early, as well as the best combinations of vineyard and cellar practices, and in that respect it’s a great vintage. The wines are light and elegant, with many exhibiting noticeable but not intrusive herbal notes. A wonderfully transparent and revealing vintage. Young -- Drink or Hold (2011-2019)

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Sokol Blosser Harvest, 2007


A year of record yields with a long growing season marked by brief heat spikes and a somewhat hurried harvest, producing wines with rich fruit, slightly higher than average alcohols and darker fruit flavors. These rich, balanced wines are already drinking well. Young -- Drink or Hold (2011-2022)

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Sokol Blosser Harvest, 2006


A cool, damp vintage that was long enough and warm enough for the vines to ripen very well yet the wines are low in alcohol and high in acid. A vintage that produced wines in a style that had not been seen in years: wines that were difficult on release and are just now becoming expressive. Young -- Drink or Hold (2011-2025)

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2005 Harvest at Sokol Blosser


Rains late in the season slowed what looked to be a repeat of 2003. The heat accumulation did contribute an opulence to these fruit-driven wines, though the rain helped to keep alcohols down and acidity up. In a way this is a classic vintage, entirely middle-of-the-road and very indicative of what Oregon can offer. Young -- Drink or Hold (2011-2018)

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Brooks Vineyard, 2011

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