Every growing season is unique and different and that certainly describes 2022. It was a roller coaster year – a frost event in mid-April, a cool and wet May followed by a warm July and August extending, uncharacteristically, into late October. The net result? A beautiful crop with strong yields, excellent quality, ripe flavors and bright acidity. Mother nature gave us concern early and then made up for it with great fall weather enabling one of the latest harvests in many years.
The 2021 growing season was remarkable in several respects including the very high quality of fruit produced.
Coolness and some precipitation in early June during flowering resulted in below average fruit set and, ultimately, lower yields. Then, at the end of June, Oregon experienced a heat dome for several days with record-breaking high temperatures. The balance of the summer was warm and dry until early September, when a cooling allowed for a relatively long and nearly ideal harvest season.
At Knudsen Vineyards, we started harvesting grapes for sparkling in late August and concluded harvest in late September. The cool weather in September gave us time to pick our Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes for still wine at nearly perfect physiological ripeness.
The modestly lower yields and great weather conditions during harvest has enabled wines with excellent acidity, depth of color, big aromatics and great flavors. We are really excited about the quality, drinkability and age worthiness of the wines from the 2021 growing season.
2021 Family Series Rosé
2021 Family Series Chardonnay
Overall, the 2020 growing season (April-October) was modestly warmer (+1.9 degrees) than the long-term average while precipitation was below average (-2.9 inches).
Spring experienced swings in temperature with early season heat followed by cool, wet conditions before and during flowering in early June. As a consequence, fruit set resulted in smaller clusters and berries and yields substantially lower than the prior seven years.
2020 in the North Willamette Valley, and elsewhere, will be most remembered for a smoke event occurring around Labor Day. This event was precipitated by an extremely rare, strong easterly wind, stoking wildfires and smoke in northwestern Oregon including the Willamette Valley which persisted over a 10-day period.
Knudsen Vineyards produced a single wine from the 2020 growing season, a 2020 Rosé from estate grapes unaffected by the smoke event.
2020 Family Series Rosé
The 2019 growing season was slightly cooler and modestly wetter than the warm and dry seasons the previous five years, although phenological timing – budbreak, bloom, veraison and harvest – and growing degree days were almost identical to the warmer 2018.
Notably, September and October each had ~2.6 inches of rain, and the latter half of September into October was considerably cooler than prior years. Thankfully the precipitation was spread out in September, and the majority of the rain in October occured after harvest, so hand-wringing was replaced with relief and joy regarding the high quality of the vintage.
We expect excellent wine from vintage 2019.
2019 Family Series Pinot noir
2019 Founders Series “JLK” Chardonnay
2019 Founders Series “CCK” Pinot Noir
2019 Family Series Chardonnay
2019 Talking Blocks Series “Throughline” Pinot Noir
2019 Family Series Rosé
We are really pleased and somewhat surprised to report that the 2018 growing season was nearly ideal once again.
The spring was relatively mild, the summer was hot and dry and then it cooled a bit the second half of August and into September. Harvest commenced in early September, several weeks later than 2017, and lasted through the end of the month, a relatively long harvest season. The yield was lower than last year while quality was consistently high. Also, because of the cooler late growing season, the grapes had considerable hangtime to achieve “optimal” physiological ripeness before picking.
Our surprise noted earlier relates to the consistently warm and relatively dry growing seasons that we’ve experienced now 5 years in a row. Viewed through a longer historical lens, these great consecutive growing seasons are much appreciated. The consistently high quality of fruit from the last five vintages has enabled Knudsen Vineyards to produce exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines of depth, elegance, complexity, and drinkability.
2018 Pinot noir
2018 Talking Blocks Series “Murto” Pinot Noir
2018 Talking Blocks Series “Snapshot” Pinot noir
2018 Talking Blocks Series “Backstory” Pinot noir
2018 Founders Series “JLK” Chardonnay
2018 Founders Series “JLK” Pinot noir
A relatively cool and wet spring resulted in a near-normal bud break in mid-April. The spring warmed up with record heat in late May that initiated flowering, followed by a cool down in early June through the second and third week of the month. Flowering produced a very good fruit set generally with more clusters per vine and larger clusters than previous years. July ramped up the heat moving the vintage rapidly to véraison. August saw multiple one-day records for maximum daytime temperatures with heat stress events early and late in the month resulting in one of the warmest on record. A warm early September accelerated fruit development but was slowed by a cooling period mid-month, leading to a relatively slow and steady harvest. 2017 ended up with near average to slightly higher than average sugar and acid levels with beautiful flavors and well-balanced fruit.
Knudsen Vineyards 2017 Pinot Noir
Knudsen Vineyards 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir
Knudsen Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay
For a third year in a row, the 2016 growing season was warm and dry and resulted in another bountiful crop of exceptional quality. Relative to 2015, July and September were a few degrees cooler while June and July had modestly greater precipitation, all resulting in another early harvest at peak maturation. It is also worth noting that precipitation during the largely dormant October – March season substantially exceeded historical averages providing welcome nourishment to land and vines after these three consecutive warm growing seasons. Finally, our higher elevation and innovative vineyard-wide drip irrigation system enables peak performance in relatively warmer years.
The 2015 growing season was almost perfect with above average warmth throughout combined with modest precipitation and cooling in early August. Further, our vineyard provided a variety of fruit expression, affording us the opportunity to craft two unique and distinct Pinot Noirs from different blocks.
Knudsen Vineyards 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir
Knudsen Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir
Knudsen Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay
In 2014, from bud break to harvest, we experienced an almost ideal growing season that delivered exceptional, balanced fruit. Growing conditions were mostly dry and warmer than normal throughout the spring providing a great environment for flowering and fruit set. The result was large clusters that ripened evenly over the course of the warm, dry summer. Conditions remained mostly dry through September with some rain at the end of the month, which ultimately helped reduce pH levels and lower the rapidly rising sugar accumulation. We were able to harvest fruit in near pristine conditions.
Knudsen Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay
Knudsen Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir
Knudsen Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay
In Oregon, the 2012 vintage Pinot Noir from the north Willamette Valley is among the most highly acclaimed. Our 2012 Pinot Noir is elegant, possessing a floral and subtle berry aroma, silky and luscious mouth feel, a fruit forward taste, long finish and a lighter ruby-red color. Both by design and consistent with many Oregon Pinot Noirs, alcohol content is relatively low at 13.5% by volume. Our Pinot Noir was barrel fermented for 16 months in older French oak barrels then blended at 10% with wine barreled in new oak. This wine is drinking well now, and we expect it will age well in the cellar, too.