I know that the very idea of thinking about the year 2020 elicits a lot of emotions and memories for everyone. Many of those memories are unpleasant, but even happiness can be found in the darkest of times: extra family time, homecooked meals, working from home, walks in nature, a slower pace. For those of us farming winegrapes in Oregon, we try to focus on the positive because on top of the challenges of the pandemic, we had erratic weather that brought us a debilitating cold period during bloom, followed by devastating fires which caused a week of smoke coverage during harvest. As if Mother Nature wanted to punctuate the growing season, the smoke event ended in an amazing fury of lightning, thunder, and 1” of rain on the night of September 17th.
When you add it all up, every bottle of wine we sell is a time capsule. It captures the people, the place, and the time that went into growing and making that wine. This is the concept of vintage variation, and we historically have dealt with a lot of vintage variation in Oregon. And while we felt truly blessed by the 2014-2019 vintages, then 2020 came and reminded us of the power Mother Nature holds.
All that being said, I’m really proud of our 2020 vintage because I know how many tears were shed and how much effort went into making those wines. Not only was it a challenge to grow the grapes with a smaller crew during spring and summer 2020 as we prioritized safety, but then seven days of heavy smoke descended upon the Valley leaving the air nearly unbreathable. I remember having to wear an N95 mask just to walk my dog.
With a small crew made smaller by many pickers who went to fight the fires still raging across the state, my brother Alex had to put out the call to action to help bring in the grapes after the smoke cleared in the Valley. There was no hesitation, and we all came to help. All three generations of Sokol Blossers participated (Susan & Russ, Bill & Dorinda, Nik & Anna, Dario & me, Alex & Ginny & his boys), alongside our admin, sales, and marketing teams (Rod, Jenn & Nick, Christina, Emily, and Lee) and the whole production crew were out there picking the fruit. But the challenges of the 2020 vintage didn’t stop at just bringing in the fruit. Our winemaking team that year met challenge after challenge to coax the fruit into wine and into the bottle.
Every bottle of 2020 pinot also carries more than just the effects of that year’s weather events: each is weighted down by the tears and memories we all imparted in it from the year we individually experienced in 2020. And, for us, those were heavy memories.
I want every bottle of wine that my family produces to share our story and become a part of your story and your memories. I am equally humbled and grateful to everyone who chooses to enjoy each vintage of Pinot my family produces. This vintage brought us many challenges and is far from being the “vintage of the decade,” and yet I am proud to share it with you.
CEO/Co-President/Second Generation Winegrower