Why do we call it Cellar Season?

Friday, January 4th 2019 by Vanessa Hadick

Author: Willamette Valley Wineries Association
Image credit: Christopher Peters / @dirt.coast

During harvest, winemaking is front and center: visitors to most wineries can see grapes being crushed, tanks being punched down, and barrels being filled. But once January hits, it can feel as though all of wine country has paused to catch a breath, and it’s not as easy to see what’s happening in the very important next step of the winemaking process.

That’s Cellar Season — the time of year when wines are undergoing the slower maturation process in barrel or tank after their comparatively fast fermentation. And just like the wines, industry folks from the tasting room to the production team are turning their focus on rejuvenation, hospitality and reflection.

There’s a quiet energy to the Cellar Season that complements tranquil rainfall and brisk winter chill, and it carries through from the production team to the hospitality staff. “I love cozying up by the fire with our sparkling wines and ports,” says Katie Bass, tasting room manager and wine club manager at Eola Hills Wine Cellars. She adds, “I plan monthly trainings to keep us on our toes and to prep for the busy season. Getting out and about with the team is so valuable: tasting adventures to other wineries, breweries and distilleries, sledding expeditions, and maybe even an escape room outing!”

The wines made from the most recent harvest spend this time in barrel or tank to undergo their secondary (malolactic) fermentation, which affects all red wines and many white wines and creates a smooth texture. This also gives the new wines time to integrate their flavors, and if they’re in oak it’s a crucial process of slowly harmonizing fruit, earth and other characteristics with the aromas and texture that oak itself lends.

By February and March, the red wines of previous vintages are often ready to come out of barrel, and white wines designed for spring drinking and made in a fresh, oak-free style—such as many Pinot gris and almost all Riesling wines—are also ready for the bottling line. Bottling is the first really high-energy time of the winemaking year, and the excitement of the growing season to come is in the air. Meanwhile, there’s no better time to experience the tasting room; wineries take this time of year to focus on intimate and in-depth experiences for their guests. 

Follow along on social media with #wvcellarseason. Cheers!



2018 Vintage Wrap Up from Alex Sokol Blosser

Monday, November 26th 2018 by Alex Sokol Blosser

As I sat in my comfy chair, looking out on a cold, wet Thanksgiving Day, I thought back upon the growing season that was and have these thoughts……..
The spring was warm and fairly dry. How warm? Well April/May/June was warmer than in 2017 and was warmer than the 10 year average for that time period. Maybe not the warmest spring, but a spring that got things moving along quickly. Bud break happened in mid-April which is normal and was when the vines started in 2017, but that warm spring progressed the vine growth so we had bloom about a week earlier than 2017. Bloom in early June can be a treacherous undertaking as the spring weather can mess up a healthy flowering. A giant hail storm did descend on the Dundee Hills in early June and ruined some of the crop in our Thistle Vineyard, but not at our Sokol Blosser estate. A more typical bloom time of late June usually allows the inclement weather to miss us. O well. This is farming so we take what Mother Nature gives us.

The summer started like one giant furnace on July 5th. We did get our typical July 4th rain which lets us know that we are in Oregon and to light the fireworks quickly. July was a hot month and we had a lot of above 90 degree days. Just when it seemed like the warm spring and the hot July would not stop, August came and the weather moderated. We actually had a normal August in which it was not warmer or cooler than the 10 year average. It was super dry, but not as hot as July. This helped slow the ripening train down, and then we got to September. Thank you September! September was not only cooler than in 2017 but it was cooler than the 10 year average. This was fantastic!! It allowed us to let the grapes hang longer so we got the fruit riper without the sugar accumulation going crazy with super-hot days. In fact, our first day of bringing in fruit (sparkling base wine) was Wednesday, September 5th. It was 88F that day. On the first day of harvest in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 it was almost 100F. Wow is right!!
Our first Pinot Noir came in on Saturday, September 15th with our Peach Tree Block and our last block of Pinot Noir was from our coolest Pinot Noir site at Blossom Ridge on Saturday, September 29th. The color of all the blocks that came in was fantastic. The extra hang time was fantastic and the wine chemistry was super exciting too with the high acids, moderate pH, and plenty of flavor. The 2018 vintage is our coolest growing season since 2012 and I predict will be our best vintage as well since that year. Get ready for some really special wines from the 2018 harvest! Thank you Mother Nature!!!!

~Alex Sokol Blosser
Winemaker, Co-President, and Second Generation Winegrower

Photo Credit: Phong Nguyen
Winemaker Alex Sokol Blosser 2018 Vintage


Introducing "Framian"

Tuesday, September 18th 2018 by Sokol Blosser Winery

If you’ve visited the winery recently you may have noticed a new piece of art at the end of the walkway near the club terrace.
“Framian”, a nine-foot tall steel frame, designed by Jason Rens at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, celebrates Senate Bill 100 (SB 100). In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, developers were eyeing the hills between Newerg and McMinnville for subdivisions, claiming the soil wasn’t good for anything else. Susan Sokol Blosser, Bill Blosser and David Lett (Eyrie Vineyards) disagreed and shared a different vision. In 1973 SB 100, a law that created Oregon’s land use planning program passed, paving the way for the future of the Oregon wine industry. That “no good” soil now produces some of the finest pinot noirs in the world.
We are honored to work with the Oregon Environmental Council and 1000 Friends of Oregon to host this art project commemorating Senate Bill 100. Framian is one of a series of projects around the state celebrating the Beach Bill, the Bottle Bill and the Bike Bill.
Next time you visit make sure to pass through this portal, take a picture, and take a moment to appreciate the rolling vineyards that could have been homes.


Wine Roots - a poem by Kim Stafford

Thursday, July 26th 2018 by Sokol Blosser Winery

Written for Russ Rosner and Susan Sokol Blosser
- by Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford

Wine Roots
Rain, too, has a vintage—aged
for eons in the sea, then lifted
from salt waves for long migration
to this hill, these furrows, this earth.
And wine has roots in the family
of the makers, their long learning
peppered with instructive errors
and the pluck to try again.
Wine has roots in weather, the right
rain at the right time, temperature
rising, cresting, and the sun-heart
beating down, wheeling toward solstice.
And wine delves deep into the bread
of earth to sip and savor centuries, all
the fallen years, the legacy and perfection
of loss and love made crisp and dry.
Sip, remember, wonder, and apprehend
the falling, delving, rising—deep wisdom
born of struggle, affection, and persistence.
Then taste this flavored song.



Bloom! Or Flowering!

Thursday, June 14th 2018 by Alex Sokol Blosser

Have you ever seen bloom in the vineyard? Bloom (or flowering as the Kiwis like to call it) is a critical time in the vineyard and winery. In the above picture you can see that each berry is “flowering”. Grapes are hermaphroditic, or they have both male and female reproductive parts so they don’t need to be pollinated like cherries or almonds. This process makes the vineyard smell amazing. Kinda of like an elderberry blossom. Kinda sweet and kinda of tart smelling. This time of year also means we can set our clock to when harvest will begin; 100 days post bloom. So we know that around September 11th the pinot noir will start coming in!!!