Fruit Drop in an Oregon Vineyard

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In August, my brother and I traveled to Portland, Oregon. We took a short drive to nearby Willamette Valley and visited Brooks Winery, a producer of bio-dynamic Pinot Noir and Riesling wines.

brooks winery vineyard oregon

As we approached the vineyard, we could see crews manually thinning grape clusters.

The vineyard was surrounded by a simple fence, a first defense against wildlife consuming the entire crop. We entered through a wood-framed gate and could immediately see the result of their labor.

brooks winery vineyard pinot noir

Large clusters of seemingly wine-worthy pinot noir grapes were laying in the dirt, inches below the still developing clusters that were left on the vine.

Winemaker Chris Williams told us that “fruit drop” at this phase is a common practice with vineyards aiming to produce premium wines. They do this twice during the ripening phase known as “veraison”.

pinot noir fruit drop

A well trained vineyard crew looks for overcrowding, damaged berries, or those that are too far ahead or behind in terms of ripeness.

As we walk deeper into the vineyard, the fruit changes from red to white.

brooks winery riesling

Riesling clusters aren’t spared from fruit drop at Brooks Winery vineyard.