Sunday, February 28, 2021

Happy Spring 2021 - looking forward

Happy spring 2021!

Howdy all from western Oregon – all things considered we are doing pretty good here, I hope the same for you.  We have some new wines for you and a few updates as to our progress and projects around here.  Spring is almost here and with that the promise of a new growing season, vaccines, and hopefully beginnings of a return to a new normal.


The most exciting news is that the vines we ordered last winter arrived mid February, and are being planted now!  Last fall we surveyed and laid out the vine rows and spacing in preparation, and keeping our fingers crossed we will have almost 6 acres of Pinot noir, Chardonnay and a little Pinot gris in a few years!  Phase II is also in progress, thanks to Luci and Tom at Sunnyside vineyard – who have saved some budwood for us that will be grafted onto rootstock and possibly planted as a soon as this fall!  Things are moving right along!


on the farm - All the animals have happily been in the barn since last November.  It has been a pretty rainy winter so they are warm and dry, out of the wet and get plenty of hay.  The vet is scheduled next week to preg check the cows to make sure Red Fred did his job.  They will all be put back out on pasture just as soon as it warms up, drys out and the grass starts to grow again.  Sal the guard donkey is also in the barn but he will return to work again this spring when the goat kids show up.  Clementine, Levi and Bob the cat have spent all winter next to the fire.  We all have a pretty great life here at BTF.  The voles this year have been voracious, especially in my garden.  The ate much of the brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and kale, except for one variety which I guess they didn’t like – carrots, celeriac, parsley – you name it they ate it!  I will busy this spring trying to control their numbers.  Clare’s horses are good, still stinky and her bees seem to have survived the winter!

2020 vintage notes

We had another great crew for the 2020 vintage, but sadly it was maybe one of the most challenging of my career.  We masked, hand washed, temperature checked, distanced and thankfully everyone stayed healthy.  The biggest challenge were the fires and trying to understand and learn about the affects of smoke and wine, which we are still doing.  We brought in all our fruit and have made all our growers whole.  Fruit quality was high but there was less of it than the last couple years.  We are doing our best and will let you know what we come up with soon…

the wines -


The 2019 vintage is what we have for you today – I think the wines are lovely, and interestingly, exceptionally sturdy.  Summer was very nice, warm days gave us nice ripeness, but September quickly cooled and with a little rain allowed the fruit to finish ripening without accumulating more sugar.  The resulting wines are bright, fresh with lots of fruit, and incredibly sturdy even by young wine standards.  What I mean by this is the wines remain vibrant days after opening.  For us this means we can open a white and a red and enjoy over 2,3 even 4 evenings.  I know some of you will tell me I’m crazy - a bottle opened means a bottle emptied – but maybe give it a try.  I think this also means the wines from 2019 will be enjoyable for a number of years to come – we’ll see!


2019 wild bee chardonnay

This is a blend of all 7 chardonnay sites we work with, our largest bottling, from south of Salem, van Duzer, Eola Amity, Dundee and Yamhill-Carlton. So a true Willamette Valley blend.  Floral and stone fruit, mouth filling yet crisp – this wine is complex but also easy to love – with a delicious finish that lingers and persuades another sip or bite. The label is same as last year, by April Coppini.  This design let’s us get you a delicious wine in a more cost effective package.

1155 cases produced, $30 a bottle.  Buy 6 bottles or more and the shipping is included!


2019 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Like the Wild Bee this is our largest bottling of pinot noir and a true representation of the region and the 9 different sites each with their own strengths add up to make this a delicious wine year after year.  I believe the 2019 version is true to this – warm spice, cherry and blackberry on the nose, and a pallet with persistent tannins and acidity that balance the fruit.  All lots are treated with equal diligence, and barrel selections are made just prior to blending and bottling.  All the winemaking, from picking decisions to final blending are done by taste – this is the most important thing to me – how does it taste? I want to make what I want to drink.  Thankfully a few of you also enjoy the same qualities in wine that I do.  

Chubs on the label, 2503 cases produced, $48 per bottle.  And 6’s and full cases all ship compliments of BTF!


2019 Pelos Sandberg pinot noir

We have been working with the same rows and blocks at Pelos Sandberg vineyard for 10 years!  2010 was the first year Don sold us fruit, and I think every year it gets a little better, the fruit most likely, but maybe my understanding of the site too.  Regardless, Don does an impeccable job farming and sells us the same high quality fruit that he puts into his own wine called Iota.  Some years ago he had some fun marking BTF rows with silverware and kitchenware he got at the thrift store, including a ladle that the vineyard guys sometimes use on days they bring soup for lunch! The drawing for this year’s label is an end post with a knife and fork that show me where to go.  Thank you Don and I hope the next 10 years are as good as the last!

243 cases produced, 64 dollars per bottle – Eola Amity at its best! 

2018 Funk vineyard Syrah – this is our third vintage working with fruit from Rich Funk’s vineyard in the Rocks District of Milton Freewater and 2019 and 2020 are in barrel.  We are so pleased to have a little bit of this special place in our cellar.  Like PSV, Rich has his own winery called Saviah and he farms his vineyards with the highest quality in mind for his wines and for what he sells us.  The 2018 version is opulent and delicious with gorgeous dark fruit, savory notes of green olive and of course black pepper that tells you it is indeed Syrah.  We just make a little bit of this wine, so if you want some be quick!

133 cases produced, $48 per bottle and yes – shipping included on 6 or more!  


Included in spring shipments is something new!  Clare has been working on documenting the food and meals we eat here on a regular basis, creating the recipes and accompanying photos of some of our winter fare in a printed version.  She in now working on the spring/summer version, fall to follow, with the eventual plan of putting them all together into a book version.  We hope this provides a little inspiration for your own kitchen and meals. If you don't follow her on Instagram you might enjoy doing so @bigtablefarm


Thank you so much to all of you who enjoy and share our wine. We are so humbled knowing the work we do in our little corner of the world brings moments of joy to others.  Please take care, be safe and we look forward to sending you wine and Clare’s zine! 


Thanks again, and cheers!  Brian and Clare

** a note on ordering wine - If you're super busy - please let us help you order wine in whatever way is EASIEST for YOU! We are happy to assist. Call, email - We are available to make sure you get the wines you love! If you want to reach out please just send an email to or call 503-852-3097 or Text Clare Directly! 503-922-3540 and we'll follow up with YOU and get your order. You can also Click here to go right to the buy wine page.

Comfort and Indulgence - fall 2020 Magnum and House wine release

Happy Fall ! Brian and I and the whole big table team hope this note brings you a bit of joy and diversion.

We have some beautiful 2018 magnums for you and a NEW wine! 

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Speaking for myself by the time we get to the holidays I will be ready to celebrate with a big bottle and put this wild ride of a year to bed.  The number of magnums is low, so don't delay. These bottles are now available to you on our web site, via the link below. 

click here to go magnum release page here

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The ‘NEW’ wine is the big table farm ‘house wine’. This wine is a result of a bit more fruit in 2018 than we really wanted to bottle as our Willamette Valley and it was simply to damn good to send down the road for someone else to bottle. This wine will not be around every year so good to get it while you can. This is a more affordable version of our Willamette Valley Pinot and is made with the same diligence as all our other wines. The lable is my drawing of our house printed on slightly more humble non letter pressed label. This bottle is simply delicious and a great everyday drinker. We hope it might soften yet another week at home as we finish out this year. 

The house wine is availble in 6 packs or 12 packs $200 and $400 - You can also buy 6 house wine and fill out your case with our fall release before it's gone.

We are starting to press off the 2020 wines and have picked all of our fruit. The winery is humming with a great crew and happy fermentations. Like so many things in 2020 we've been asked to get things done in new ways all while bringing energy and creativity to our work as we make wines we want to drink and share with you.

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We have been enjoying more than our share of farm meals as we diligently make some great wines for you to enjoy in the future. If you don't follow me on Instagram you might enjoy doing so - I'm post my recipes from harvest meals along with pictures of the farm and winery during this vibrant time of year.  @bigtablefarm

© erin kunkel photography

© erin kunkel photography

We were honored to be named in the top 100 wineries of the year by Wine and Spirits Magazine again this year! As well as a beautiful feature in the Oct issue of Food and Wine Magazine with lots of BTF recipes! We will include a copy with your order until I run out.

Complimentary Fall ground shipping (on 6 bottles or more) will last for a few more weeks, take advantage of it and stock up now for the holidays!

I suggest buying a three pack of magnums - a chard magnum for Thanksgiving, a willamette valley for your holiday table and a single vineyard to stash away!  

 Cheers!! and thank you ALL! Clare and Brian

© erin kunkel photography

© erin kunkel photography

© erin kunkel photography

© erin kunkel photography

Take care of yourself and your neighbors and share that bottle you've been saving!

© erin kunkel photography

© erin kunkel photography

** a note on ordering wine - If you're super busy - please let us help you order wine in whatever way is EASIEST for YOU! We are happy to assist. Call, email - We are available to make sure you get the wines you love! If you want to reach out please just send an email to or call 503-852-3097 or Text Clare Directly! 503-922-3540 and we'll follow up with YOU and get your order. You can also Click here to go right to the buy wine page or click here to go magnum release page here

As we look to fall .... and savor the last days of summer

 Hello to all from Big table farm!

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I am writing to you today in the midst of the pandemic, unprecedented economic hardship for many and an enormous social discussion about all of our roles in our country, society and the world, to tell you that we have more wine for you to put on your table.  This is one of our roles in this world that we have chosen – to produce the best wine that we can, wine that we enjoy ourselves and then to share with those of you who also enjoy it.  This sometimes seems trivial in light of all that we are facing, challenged with at the moment, but I think the joy created by a family sharing meals, with wine as part of that food, is extremely comforting.  I know it has been for Clare and me.

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The world is so much different today than when I last wrote in March.  All things considered, we are doing well.  We stopped doing appointments in mid-March at the Atelier and Clare began using the space in earnest to paint and produced an amazing amount of work, most of it selling the moment she posted it on Instagram.  I have been a little less productive but still diligently taking care of the wine and doing the bookkeeping, and enjoying the breathing room now that our home is just a home, with the office and tastings moved out.  I have definitely been slowed by the constant dismal news, anxious and worried about what is happening next.  It seems life moves from normal to unexpected event, to new normal then to next unexpected event, over and over.  We are fortunate to have our health (we have avoided covid so far) and plenty of outdoor space and projects, should we avail ourselves to them.  We have missed being able to see our family and friends with the ease of before.  We are grateful to have cultivated our business based on direct sales, thankful that you continue to enjoy our wine at home.  We also hope all our amazing restaurant partners are able to rebound and we look forward to the day we can enjoy their culinary and hospitality talents with unencumbered enthusiasm!  We are thankful for the work that Laura Lillebo and Laura Dalton do to make sure your orders are processed and shipped as efficiently and safely as possible.  Samantha Plante does an amazing job behind the scenes of making sure that all our shipments are legal, licenses and bond are kept up to date and sales tax paid to each of your respective state treasuries.  Our team has done a great job of getting you the wine, and we look forward to sending you more.

We have had a nice spring and summer here, April saw a few frosty mornings that burnt some of my asparagus and June was cooler and wetter than usual.  We have had a couple of hot days in august, but for the most part the summer has been typical for Oregon – delightful!   Harvest 2020 will be small and start sometime in mid September.

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Bob the cat and the dogs have done their jobs of reminding us that the only really important things in life are ear scratches, belly rubs and crunchies, not necessarily in that order.  For the first time in the 12-13 years we have had cows, we had two still births, and Red Fred the bull missed 3 of the eight cows he was presented with.  Regardless we still have 3 calves to watch romp around.  Sal the donkey has 5 Boer goats (6 last year, they were delicious) to watch over as they keep the brush down on the steepest parts of our property.  Luscious and Chubs, American Guinee hogs, are super cute, and getting bigger by the day as they run every time they hear a pear drop from the trees above then.  The broilers are in the freezer and the layers keep laying, except they have slowed a little in the warm days of summer.  Clare still has her horses, but hummer has been retired due to age, so she mostly just rides Huston.  She seems to really enjoy this so I don’t ask about the future of more (or another) working horses.  She moved her apiary to a new spot this year and so far it seems to be more successful than any other.  Maybe it is the season and maybe her husbandry, but it seems that she is headed for a very successful honey harvest.  My garden is still providing for us, maybe a little less this year due to some apathy on my part, but we just finished planting a bed of brassicas (kale, brussels etc.) that should keep us in greens for the winter.  Clare has created a sock puppet named “Darn the cow” one evening a month or so ago after some elusive queen chardonnay and some teasing by a friends puppet.  Darn has taken on a life of her own and can be seen on Clare’s Instagram account.  She does a pretty good job of keeping up with all that is happening around here in a light hearted way. All in all things at Big Table Farm are pretty good.

As I announced last time I wrote, vines have been ordered for about 6 acres, mostly pinot noir but some chardonnay.  This spring Clare purchased about a dozen bird houses that we installed on the perimeter vineyard fence posts, some were inhabited almost immediately!  Watching the birds that thrive here has been a constant fascination.  Pencil rod (skinny steel stakes) were just delivered and will start to be installed at the beginning of September.  When the plants arrive next spring the pencil rod will mark where the vines should be planted and then serve as a support in the early days.  We used the cows to graze the cover crop that was planted last fall. The stubble they left was recently mowed in preparation for laying out and installing the pencil rod.  Additional cover crop will be seeded into the yet to be inhabited vineyard rows using a no-till drill this fall – and all going according to plan this time next year we will have the beginnings of a vineyard!

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We are in the midst of preparing to bottle the rest of the 2019’s.  If the 2019 laughing pig rose is any indicator I think the rest will drinkable too!  Joking aside, I am pleased with what we are about to bottle and hope that when they are ready to ship to you next spring, the world will be a different place again – hopefully sans covid.

The wines!


We have really enjoyed the 2018 wines released so far, particularly Earth Pinot noir and the Elusive Queen chardonnay (both sold out) but the Willamette Valley and Pelos Sandberg Pinot noir and Wild Bee Chardonnay too, since they were release last spring, and we look forward to getting to know their brethren as well.  The 2018 versions of Yamhill-Carlton and Eola Amity Chardonnay are available, as well as the Cattrall Brothers Vineyard, Sunnyside Vineyard and Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir, and the 2019 Pinot Gris.

2018 Eola Amity and Yamhill-Carlton chardonnay – the goal of our AVA designated chardonnays is to show case what each is about, and I believe each of these do that.   The Eola Amity is focused on acidity and minerality, of course layered on top of fruit, because I like to drink wines that have fruit in them.  The Yamhill-Carlton is a bit broader riper and reflecting the slightly warmer AVA and the power that it imparts on its wine’s, both chardonnay and Pinot noir.  I hope you enjoy these wines, both for their similarities and differences.  About 90 cases of each produced. Of course, shipping included on 6 bottles or more!

2018 Eola Amity Chardonnay – label is one of Clare’s honeybees collecting pollen - $48 per bottle

2018 Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay – label is flowers that feed Clare’s bees – also $48 per bottle 

2018 Cattrall Brothers Vineyard Pinot Noir – this is the highest elevation Pinot noir we work with and it shows, it achieves ripeness without accumulating too much sugar and the cooling of the breeze from the Van Duzer corridor that hits it every evening helps maintain its acidity.  The 2018 version is no exception and is delicious while only clocking in at 12.1% alcohol.  The acidity and tannin demand food, especially as youngster.  Tom and Bill have the coolest truck that they use to deliver their carefully tended grapes that Clare loves to draw for the label. 134 cases produced

2018 Cattrall Brothers Vineyard Pinot Noir – 1946 ford cabover flatbed $62 per bottle, and yep still complimentary shipping on orders of 6 bottles or more!

2018 Sunnyside Vineyard Pinot Noir –  Happy birthday! Sunnyside vineyard was planted in 1970, making it 50 years old this year!  The wine from this carefully tended vineyard is always amazing.  Lucy and Tom farm this predominantly Wadensville clone pinot noir with care, diligence and enthusiasm that undoubtedly contributes to fantastic wine year in and year out.  My job is to make sure I don’t mess up the beautiful fruit they bring me every year.  Fruit, spice, acidity and tannin all seem to balance effortlessly making it tasty as they come.  242 cases produced

2018 Sunnyside Vineyard Pinot Noir – a BTF rooster on the label $62 per bottle

2018 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir – some day we will see a little BTF fruit in this blend!  Our place is in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and part of why we started making this wine, thinking that someday wine from our vineyard would have a home.  As I mentioned before – the YC wines seem to have darker fruit notes a little more power than finesse making it an able partner to grilled food and heartier fare.  Clare uses the label to showcase the local barns from years gone by that are still standing.  234 cases produced

2018 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir – Dairy barn on hwy 47 on the label.  $62 per bottle, and yes shipping included on 6 bottles or more on this one too! 

2019 Pinot Gris – from the Rivenwood Vineyard farmed by Belle Ponte.  We started buying this fruit from Brian O’Donnell in 2017 to replace wirtz and continued to make it the same style, fermented on the skins to make a wine that is food friendly.   The resulting wine is copper in color and has some tannin and red fruited notes to it that make it absolutely delicious with seafood, particularly salmon or crab with lots of butter!   We always crack open a bottle of our pinot gris when the first dungeon crabs hit our table in the fall, I highly recommend giving it a try!  Label art on the gris is always a favorite of mine, this year chickory from our lower pasture.  133 cases produced

2019 Pinot Gris – $32 per bottle  and you guessed it – buy 6 bottles or more and we pay for shipping.


I hope is all is as good as it can be, that you are safe and relatively sane.  Thank you again for continuing to buy, enjoy and share our wines.  From our humble kitchen and sparsely populated big table to yours, cheers! Brian and Clare

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** a note on ordering wine - If you're super busy - please let us help you order wine in whatever way is EASIEST for YOU! We are happy to assist. Call, email - We are available to make sure you get the wines you love! If you want to reach out please just send an email to or call 503-852-3097 or Text Clare Directly! 503-922-3540 and we'll follow up with YOU and get your order. You can also Click here to go right to the buy wine page.