2020 – Year in Review


The 2020 growing season was a roller coaster ride both from the weather and emotional standpoints.  All started out well.  The months April through early September were ideal.  Then an arson incident occurred just north of Chelan which resulted in a forest fire of intense magnitude.  The fire did not grow to a large size yet was close enough to deposit ash in some of the Lake Chelan AVA vineyards.  Purtteman was spared ash fall and the majority of smoke.  No smoke taint was observed in samples sent to labs.  You can imagine the anguish felt by farmers, families, wineries and other businesses as a result of someone’s selfish behavior.  Just blows me away how some people conduct themselves.

Some Highlights

The Winter:  It did get a bit nippy this winter.  Temperatures dropped to plus 1 degree.  There was quite a lot of snowfall which occurred in January.  February and March were fairly dry.  Great weather to prune by.  It takes Ray about two and one half to three days of March weather to prune one acre of wine grapes.  Don’t worry, he has a lot of time as the white and rose wines were bottled a couple of weeks earlier!

The Spring:  As mentioned in the Overview, the Spring weather was ideal.  I always find myself awash in emotion as the vineyard and surrounding flora wake, push new growth and eventually bloom.  There is no other color like that of grape vines showing 2 – 6 inches of tender green shoots.  Young – pinky fingertip sized cluster are present giving me a glimpse into what future crop may be in store for us.  

The Summer:  Very dry – warm conditions persisted from June through early October.  In fact, there was no precipitation in the months of July and August and very little (0.5 inch) in September.  Crops grown for and by us ripened beautifully.  Spent a lot of time walking Purtteman vineyard row by row.  While it is a far healthier way to grow most anything one puts in one’s mouth,  using organic spray compounds is more labor intensive.  This is just fine by us.  The name of the end game is quality.  Fruit and wine quality and just as important, life quality.  

The Harvest:  We had a major scare in early September due to an arson caused fire just north of Chelan.  The smoke filled air lasted about a week to ten days with no damage being caused to our vineyards.  Further south, the entire state of Washington was blanketed in smoke from fires located in Oregon and California.  Thus far, we have not noticed smoke taint in fruit harvested from the Stone Tree vineyard or Native River vineyard.

Post Harvest:  The 2020 wines quality shows very good potential.  Nice dark color, aromas and flavors of ripe black and red fruits are present.  The tannin levels are higher than expected which made the call to rigorously separate the free run and light press wine fractions from the moderate and heavy press wine fractions necessary.  Currently, I am very impressed with our Purtteman vineyard 2020 Malbec, Dolcetto and Tannat.