MONROE, Ore. — Oregon wineries say this is one the driest harvest seasons on record, but that dry spell is quickly coming to an end. The forecasted rain could hurt this year’s crop.
Most of the vines at Benton-Lane Winery have been picked clean of grapes by now. Staff there have been working night and day to beat the coming rain.
The has been around for 24 years. Its vineyard covers 145 acres, and the owner says it normally takes at least 10 full days to harvest everything. Staff started the picking process a week ago, but with rain in the forecast for Friday night they were pushed to move a whole lot faster.
For five days, crews worked from the early morning hours to late in the evening. But it will all pay off, because by late Thursday night, they’ll have done the work in half the time, saving the crop from ruin.
“If you get more than like an inch and a half of rain, it’s gonna soak in and the vines are thirsty, so they’re gonna drink it up and the berries. The skin is very tight and so they’ll actually crack and split open,” said Steve Girard, Benton-Lane Winery owner.
The result could draw mold and yellow jackets. The other issue is too much rain dilutes all the flavors they work so hard to get during the growing season.
Once all the grapes have been brought in, it doesn’t end there. They’ll have to go through about a three-week fermentation process before being put into barrels for aging.