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I arrived in Carlton, OR Tuesday evening and moved into The Winery Lofts of Ken Wright Cellars, my home for the next few days.

Weather factors have dictated that it is not time for harvest. Cooler temperatures and rain have slowed the final stages of ripening.  But that is okay – there is still work to do.

Upon arriving at the winery this morning our first order of business was a sampling trip to several of the vineyards.  Ken owns 11 separate vineyards, each bottling under its own label.

Here I am reading the refractometer.

Our first stop was Savoya Vineyard where we walked specific rows to test brix (sugar content) and look for signs of insect activity or rot (mold).  Brix levels ranged from 15-21.  23-24 are ideal for harvest.  There were no signs of insect damage or rot, but you could see where the birds had done some early picking.

To test the brix, you squeeze a few drops of juice from a grape onto the lense of a refractometer.  A prism bends the solubles and creates the reading that appears as a numerical value as you look through the tube.  The recent rains may have diluted brix levels, but these readings provide critical information for Ken and his vineyard managers.

After a delicious lunch prepared by Ken’s wife, Karen, several of us accepted Ken’s invitation to taste some of the wines.  During this tasting, we sampled 4 whites, including Ken Wright 2009 Chardonnay, and 4 of his 2008 Pinot Noirs.  I loved Ken’s Chardonnay – crisp and flavorful and of the Pinot Noirs, the Meredith Mitchell Vineyard was my favorite.  It evidenced the basalt soils (volcanic) in which the grapes are grown showing loads of dark fruits and subtle spice.

The sun came out today and several days of sunny weather and warmer temperatures are forecast.  Some of the grapes may be ready to pick, soon!