The 2017 vintage was fairly average or in other words, great for Washington state grape growers and winemakers. Our Lake Chelan AVA estate vineyard was expanded with plantings of Malbec and Dolcetto. Athena came up with our estate vineyard’s name. It is henceforth known as Purtteman Vineyard. You see, the deep – pronounced Purtteman Gulch which runs north – south forms the eastern border of our property. With the exception of spraying, estate vineyard work was completed almost in it’s entirety by Athena, Caris and Ray. This is the year we entered into a grape contract with an unknown – brand new vineyard. Namely, the Native River Vineyard. This vineyard is located several miles south of the Azwell Dam on the west side of the Columbia River. The first crops of Petite Sirah and Syrah are expected to come off with the 2018 vintage.
The Winter: Winter temperatures were cold and crisp with the low being -1 degrees. Nonetheless, vines easily made it through winter unscathed. There were decent levels of snow pack. January saw a fair amount of snowfall. February and March were fairly dry. Pruning in March was a joy as temps warmed into the thirties and there was little precipitation. The artistry known as pruning was completed on schedule in late – March. Note to self, if enough motivation can be mustered, try out our families cross country skis around the vineyard.
The Spring: Bud break occurred right on schedule during the third week of April. April, May and June steadily less precipitation each month (April with about 2 inches finishing with 0.03 inch in June). There were close brushes with spring frost as temperatures dropped to 35 degrees during the month of May and again in early June. Purtteman Vineyard is looking great and Ray is working on his “farmer tan”. The native flora is budding out and pushing up through the warming soil.
The Summer: Late – June, July, August and early September temps were warm topping out at 100 degrees. The precipitation was much less than normal with a tiny amount in June and none in July, August and September. This was a very good growing season. For a very short period of time, there was a slight threat from forest fires but smoke taint proved to not be an issue. Yellow, pink, white, it is a pleasure to see the various native flowers in bloom as we work in the vineyard! The lavender planting next to our vineyard is in full bloom as well. The multitude of bee species found on our site are having a field day gathering the pollen and nectar.
The Harvest: Once again, we purchased both American and French oak barrels. 1,500 cases worth of good quality grapes were harvested and crushed into our fermentation vats. Fruit was sourced from both sides of the lake. We were impressed with that purchased from the south shore.
Post Harvest: Though good quality wines were achieved all around, Athena and I discussed at length the need to return to the Wahluke Slope AVA “Stone Tree” vineyard for our future Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Merlot fruit until the Purtteman Vineyard was able to supply those grapes for our winemaking programs. The reason being, we desire to craft not good wines but great wines.