Every fall the entire year's grape growing efforts culminate with harvest and the arrival of grapes to the winery. Here in Southern Oregon, harvest typically begins in early September with the arrival of Pinot gris, Sauvignon blanc and other aromatic varieties. Harvest concludes in late October with pressing grapes for the big reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc, which enjoy (and need) extra time on the vines to develop and ripen.
Reaching Ripeness - Preparing for HarvestAt the start of the ripening process, the acidity levels are very high and sugar levels very low. Grapes are yet to develop their signature flavors and taste herbaceous. All of these characteristics change as we get closer and closer to harvesting. Grapes grow softer and fleshy and fill with water.
As harvest grows near grapes develop their signature flavors and reach the desired ripeness. Our Enologist, Emily, determines this level of ripeness by testing their acidity and degrees Brix, or sugar levels. As grapes ripen their acidity drops and sugar increases so tracking these levels help determine the right time to pick. The final test to determine when to harvest is our skilled winemaker Linda Donovan’s taste test. Determining the right time to pick the grapes is essential for making quality wine.
The Time is Right - Ready to Harvest
Once the grapes have reached the optimal level of ripeness it is time to begin the winemaking process! Grapes are picked early in the morning while the vineyard sites are cool and sent straight to the winery for processing. On an average day the winemaking team processes 10 tons of grapes, on the busiest days they can process up to 100 tons of grapes.
White wine grapes are then crushed and pressed off the skins, to squeeze out the grape juice and begin the fermentation process. Red wines, however, are crushed and fermented in contact with the grape skins.
What many don’t realize is that the grape juice is clear no matter if it’s a white or red grape: red wines get their color because of the contact with the grape skins after they’ve been pressed. To get the deep ruby color red wines are known for, the juice can be kept in contact with the grape skins for days, weeks, and in the case of extended maceration, even months. And those beautiful pink rosé wines? They’re pink because the juice is intentionally in contact with the grape skins only for a short time: anywhere from a handful of hours to at most, two days.
And thus begins the process of making wine! In our next update, we’ll take you into the winery to talk fermentation. Stay tuned!
L. Donovan Wines to Construct New Space & Outdoor Venue
in Downtown Medford
Winery Expansion, Second Tasting Room In the Works
We have recently broken ground on our newest project in downtown Medford! This multi-phase construction undertaking will expand our production capacity, create a second urban tasting room location, as well as a large outdoor venue next to our current Urban Cork wine bar, and Pallet Wine Company winemaking facility on N. Fir Street.
Did you know that Pallet Wine Company is Southern Oregon’s first custom crush facility, as well as the largest by production volume? Founded in 2009, the exciting growth of our business over the past decade has called for expanding the winery to increase our Urban Cork guest facilities and winemaking production capacity. With our expansion, our winery’s production capacity will increase by 50%, which will enable us to provide more wine, food, and event experiences for our guests, all of you! It will also help us increase our abilities to create private, customized labels for you, better service our growing list of winery clients, and increase winemaking capacity for our owner Linda Donovan's own wine label, L Donovan Wines.
In addition, a second urban tasting room location will be built, to complement the Urban Cork tasting room at 330 Fir Street. Linda has worked meticulously in planning this new space, which will have a plant-filled conservatory-like feel, inspired by her own passion for botany. Linking the two tasting rooms will be an outdoor venue, where guests will be able to mingle, try wines paired with food offerings, and enjoy live music. Flanking the outdoor venue will be the incredible, colorful, wine-themed mural that adorns the side of the production facility. For Linda, these new spaces are not only being created for the enjoyment of Medford locals, and welcoming visitors to the region, but to also provide additional opportunities to introduce guests to her clients’ wines:
“I have been blessed with wonderful clients, a dedicated and extremely talented staff and a great valley to grow my business in. It is extremely rewarding to help clients reach their winemaking goals.”
Designed by Ken Ogden, Architect and working with Outlier Construction Co., our new construction broke ground the first week of June, and is expected to open in September 2021. Thereafter, the second phase of building the additional tasting room will begin, with opening planned for spring 2022.
In the meantime, consider joining The Urban Cork wine club, featuring not only wines from the L Donovan label, but also wines from across Linda’s winery client portfolio. From Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir, Riesling to Cabernet Sauvignon, Linda and the Urban Cork provides a platform to spotlight the incredible quality of wines that Southern Oregon has to offer. Wine club members enjoy 4 wine releases per year, of 6-12 bottles each shipment, and members get to hand-select the wines they receive each shipment. Club members also enjoy special perks like discounts on wine, first access to new releases, virtual wine tastings, invitations to members-only events, and more.
We can't wait to open our new space to you. We hope you'll help us warm our new spaces when they are ready to open! Join our email list to receive news about our construction progress and special invites to grand opening celebrations later this year!
Southern Oregon Tempranillo