Late Harvest Means Bumper Crop for Central Oregon | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Late Harvest Means Bumper Crop for Central Oregon

Maragas Winery expects 2022 will be an excellent vintage

If you grow anything at home—tomatoes?—did you notice your bumper crop this season? Maragas Winery owner Doug Maragas sure did. Not just with the tomatoes, as well as garlic, pumpkins and more, but chiefly in this year's harvest of Vitis vinifera. European wine grapes. It isn't just that he had a banner harvest in terms of volume, but that the extra time means the grapes will result in a stellar vintage.

The only bummer for local winos is that Maragas tends to employ extended aging for his wines, meaning most of his 2022 vintages, such as the Petite Syrah, won't actually be released until 2028. The Chardonnay ought to come out of its barrels in 2027. That said, signs likely point to several such extraordinary vintages, given that they serve as a sort of silver lining to the perils of climate change.

Late Harvest Means Bumper Crop for Central Oregon
Photo courtesy of Maragas Winery

Maragas is no Nostradamus, but he predicts many greater growing seasons and attributes this year's yield to the new climate. The extended sunny and dry summer coupled with a first freeze that didn't arrive until early November meant that the comparative extra month of ripening allowed for the vinifera to develop ideal sugars and acids that will create wines akin to the famous French vintages three and four decades back.

In 1999, back when other climatologists and agronomists insisted Central Oregon didn't lend itself to decent vineyards, Doug and Gina Maragas established their eponymous Culver winery, starting to plant vines in 2006. They now grow an astounding 40-plus varietals of vinifera on 21 acres of rich, volcanic soil, plus more on a second vineyard in Warm Springs.

Maragas Winery won 11 medals at the 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, including double golds for his Petite Syrah and Zinfandel.

"It was a gamble," reflects Maragas, "but I thought it was an educated gamble. In hindsight, it was a good move. There's no substitute for premium grapes...I realized it was remarkable that no one had grown Northern Italian grapes, German and French grapes [here], but the soil and climate are perfect."

“I’d rather be growing Riesling and Gewürztraminer than have climate change with downsides like violent weather.”—Doug Maragas

tweet this

That said, Maragas confesses he'd "rather be growing Riesling and Gewürztraminer"—colder-climate wine grapes—"than have climate change with downsides like violent weather." Instead, "Napa harvested earlier than ever and we harvested later than ever."

So again, while global warming may have led to a Loire Valley-like harvest this year, Maragas fears this year won't be, "a coincidence or aberration. And farmers need to look at the science, the facts."

Although the 2022 vintages won't be available for some time (except "Fresh," a Pinot Gris that will be released next year) and there are only a few Bend restaurants and retailers where Maragas distributes (including Whole Foods), joining their wine club may be the ideal way to ensure access to the wines when they become available. Production is limited to around 2,000 cases. There's no fee but members commit to buying quarterly shipments at a discount and several releases are exclusively available to members. Another way to access Maragas wines is by visiting the winery where guests can enjoy a tasting flight.

Maragas Winery
15523 SW Highway 97, Culver

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment
View All Our Picks

Newsletter Signup

Get Social

Want to Advertise With Us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here