The 2014 harvest has kicked off in the Willamette Valley as fruit pours into wineries as we speak. We’ll start bringing in grapes for the wines sometime next week and we’re currently prepping the winery for the hundreds of tons of grapes that will passing through over the next few weeks. However, our harvest always begins a couple weeks before the “actual” harvest with grapes coming in that are destined for our verjus.
We get asked quite often what verjus is in the tasting room. Essentially, it’s the juice of grapes that were picked while the grapes were very low in sugar (usually around 10% sugar; as a comparison, we ideally harvest Pinot Noir when it’s between 21-25%) and high in acidity. As the grapes continue to ripen and develop sugar, the acidity drops, so there isn’t a large harvest window for verjus.
Verjus itself has been used since ancient times in the preparation of sauces or as an additive that requires any acidic ingredient. That’s still seen as its primary purpose today, but it can be so much more. My preference is to use verjus as a cocktail ingredient, mixed with a dram of whisky (if I’m not drinking wine, you can usually find me drinking whisky). Here’s a few cocktail ideas from the Wall Street Journal (the article even features our verjus).
We’re all going to be very busy over the next few weeks with sorting fruit, cleaning tanks, moving wine here and there, and all of the other (un)glamorous tasks that the creation of wine entails. We’ll come up for air occasionally, keeping you updated on the progress of #Harvest2014. In the interim, try your own cooking/mixing experiments with our verjus; we only have a small amount of the 2013 vintage remaining, so get it while you can!