2017: I’ll lead with the same line as last time, “The warmest vintages we’ve ever seen in the

Willamette Valley over 50+ years are the last five. Period.” It can’t be overstated. By October 4th

we’d already seen 2445 degree-days, within a chip shot of Region 2’s lower boundary of 2500


This year we caught up to a late start with hot-hot-hot! Extremes in 2017 saw more days over 80F,

at 86, than any year except 2015, the record-hot year so far, and more days over 90F, at 32, than

we’ve ever seen. Harvest 2017 happened when it traditionally has, beginning the last week or so

of September and lasting until the first few days of November. Timing is reassuring since last year’s

harvest began in August—freakily early. At first, 2017 looked like an extreme opposite to 2016,

with very late budbreak and bloom, following a wet rainy season where 150% of average rainfall

filled soils. However, abnormally warm and dry months then took over. Very high temperatures this

year were the norm, with no other year showing more days over-90F days and only 2015 having

more days above-80F. Harvest timing was similar to the old days of cool climate harvests in the

Willamette Valley—the only difference being the intensely hot summer preceding it. The heat gave

full ripeness to the fruit, despite a large crop load and a plodding start to the growing season. A bit

more rain fell this year, but September’s 2.06 inches had only a refreshing impact, especially since

it was spread over 11 days. The rain coincided with cooling weather, seeing 67F average highs

over the last 10 days, compared to the prior two weeks’ 87F. Since harvest began September

17th, low temperatures averaged 47F, with a high-low diurnal swing of 27F, which means acid

brightness was well retained.

Implications are a large crop load, pristine fruit quality, fully mature flavors and phenological

parameters, softer acids urging earlier harvest despite pH and sugars saying “don’t pick yet.”

Although I may be thinking too highly, 2017 reminds me of 1994 and 2008, based on

concentration and spherical focus. The harvest timing being normal is a big plus and the industry’s

ongoing education on how to adapt to a warmer/changed climate makes each vintage more-andmore sophisticated, age-worthy and complex.

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