Greetings from warm and sunny western Oregon! We hope this finds you fat and happy! First off, I want to say thank you to our community of builders, founders, friends, financiers and most importantly those of you who continue to purchase and enjoy the wine we make. We couldn’t do all of this alone. We have had a super busy summer here with all of the building, visitors of all stripes, participating in events and of course all the other stuff, like making wine and raising a few animals.
Farm and Winery News
The barn is complete, loaded with hay for the winter, housing Clare’s stinky horses and Charlie the bull, who is separated from the ladies as they recover from calving. We just slaughtered a steer, and a heifer that didn’t meet size and stature requirements. The pigs are growing fast on windfall apples, and the chickens seem to be doing okay after solving our predator problem with a couple pieces of lead. The winery has taken form, and we are doing everything we can to encourage completion in a few short weeks. 2014 harvest is right around the corner. We anticipate seeing grapes by mid September. Thank you again to all who have labored on our projects.
The 2012 Vintage
The 2012 wines from the spring release continue to garner praise from the press and have sold well. We still have a few cases of our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, some Laughing Pig Rose and Edelzwicker, but the Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Pinot and Chardonnay are sold out! I am fascinated by the differences created in wine by the source of the fruit. All are treated similarly in the winery yet the resulting wines are intriguingly different. I am asked often if I have a favorite and my answer is always the same – I like them all and for different reasons.
I have joked that if I couldn’t make a decent wine in 2012, then I should find something else to do. A consistently warm and delightful summer, plus a warm and dry September that continued into October gave us the ability to pick based on assessed levels of ripeness. The 2012 vintage has been heralded by some, while others pine for the cooler vintages of 2010 and 2011. I would like to think we have made wines that are balanced and refined enough to carry the weight of the vintage. Maybe my days of working in California came into play in helping to decide when to pick. Maybe letting the grapes ferment without added yeast let the nuances of the vineyard and vintage shine through. Maybe tasting the fruit regularly as it ripened, helped me make picking decisions and subtle adjustments to winemaking protocol. Maybe attentive but careful handling in the cellar helped retain vibrancy, and choosing to bottle without filtering or fining, both whites and reds, leaves vitality in the wines. Maybe all of these things just add up as we attempt to make wines that are delicious and distinctive. Whatever the magic is, thank you for continuing to come back for more. We love what we are doing, but can’t do it without you.
2013 Wirtz Vineyard Pinot Gris - Our friend Penn Wells brought the 2012 version of this wine to the salmon bake at IPNC this year. He put some in my glass halfway through the evening, and I was stunned- fresh, full of fruit, cleansing finish, it was the perfect interlude to all of the Pinot Noir being passed. My point is that making this wine in this style continues to surprise me. 2013 was made in that same vein – fermented slowly as whole fruit, gently pressed and allowed to finish fermenting in neutral barrels. It is still in barrel as I write. We plan on bottling September 4 and 5, again without any fining or filtration. Charming in its own way, we look forward to the surprises it will bring us. As in past vintages this is an “orange wine”. Tannins are firm and present, and the acidity makes this wine a perfect seafood wine. This wine is pretty and has great fruit now, but will cellar well. Hopefully about 145 cases bottled, label: wild flowers from our hedgerow, 32 dollars.
2012 Brooks Estate Vineyard Riesling – made in the same fashion as past vintages, barrel fermented, bone dry. The warmth of the vintage has put its mark on this wine by making it more approachable now than in past years. It has great aromatic intensity with complexity. Mouth watering palate offers tight tannins and sweet cream, wet stones all with the classic acidity of this site. That being said, I really look forward to trying this wine with some age on it. 103 cases produced, label: morels from btf, 28 dollars.
2012 Cattrall Brothers Vineyard Pinot Noir – Tom and Bill Cattrall farm their two pieces high in the Eola Amity hills cooperatively and organically. We have been working with the same block of Tom’s vineyard since 2009. We have enjoyed getting to know Tom. When I show up to run through the rows, he is often in the vineyard on his tractor, chasing off birds as the grapes ripen. The warm vintage allowed the own rooted vines planted so long ago to ripen fully, yet the wine produced still retains its bright acidity and tannic backbone. The Wadenswil clone is all that is planted in this small vineyard; it was fermented with 50% whole cluster, contributing to the spicy and brambly aromatics. Red fruit, earth and present tannins make a wine that will be youthful for a few years to come. 161 cases produced, label: Tom’s bird chasing tractor, 48 dollars.
2012 Wirtz Vineyard Pinot Noir - Visiting this vineyard feels like going to visit an old friend, immediately comfortable and yet always something new to discover. We have worked with the fruit since 2010, so I am still learning about it characteristics. When I went to check on the Pinot Noir in 2012, I was struck by how ripe the Pinot Gris was, (usually picked later) so we picked that first. The Pinot Noir was allowed to ripen for another few days before picking early in the morning October 11. The fermentations were flawless and the resulting wine has a great spice to accompany the fruit. Even with a warmer vintage, this wine still shows sour cherry acid with perfect tannin balance, allowing flavors to build without becoming heavy. Balance and depth of earth, fruit and acidity are all hallmarks of the Wirtz Vineyard. 232 cases produced, label: oak leaves and acorns, 48 dollars.
2012 Sunnyside Vineyard Pinot Noir - Stopping at Sunnyside Vineyard is always a day brightener. Walking the blocks with Lucy, discussing life, vintage and vineyard assessments, while Tom briefly says hello and then continues on, is always a refreshing break. Lucy and Tom put tremendous effort into the vineyard they have been tending for over 30 years, and this is clearly evident by what ends up in the glass. My job is to not screw up their work, into which they have put so much care and love. This site offers persistent fruit sweetness, complete and fresh throughout the entire wine. The long finish is carried by that same fruit. This wine is drinking beautifully now but will also cellar. 230 cases produced, label: hens and chicks of btf, 48 dollars.
2012 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir- as was mentioned in our last missive, Resonance Vineyard was purchased by Burgundy producer Louis Jadot in the summer of 2013. I look forward to tasting the efforts of such an accomplished producer from a vineyard that I know so well. 2012 will be our last vintage of Pinot Noir from this site, and I feel like we are going out with a bang. A warm site in a warm vintage requires restraint; I hope I have achieved this. I finally felt I had really gotten to know ‘my’ blocks. I finished the 2007 vintage for Kevin and Carla, and have learned from their observations and careful tending since then. As always this wine is just opening up now, and we anticipate this to continue for quite some time. Resonance is always a beautiful balance of dark fruit, warm fall flavors and classic cola, with a weighty palate and integrated tannins. 326 cases produced, label: Auggie the bull calf, 48 dollars.
Thank you again for enjoying our wine,
from our table to yours, cheers! Brian and Clare