The pilgrims come by private jet, stretch limos and even on horseback, but most arrive in the family car via Highway 99W or head off the beaten path in Southern Oregon and the Gorge. It’s Thanksgiving weekend in wine country, a tradition started in 1974 at The Eyrie Vineyards in the Willamette Valley.
One of the most entrancing and simultaneously perplexing things about wine is how every year it can be entirely different, depending on what Mother Nature delivers. A very hot growing season will result in a wine with higher sugar levels, while a cold year will produce unripe fruit. A rainy season could bring about undesirable mold mildew. A dry season (in a vineyard with no irrigation) could result in shriveled and undeveloped grapes. As knowledgeable consumers come to expect certain flavors from their favorite wineries, one of the winemaker’s many challenges is to bring a level of consistency to each vintage, no matter what the weather brings.