Monday, February 28, 2022

Spring 2022

February 28, 2022

Early March 2022

Howdy all from western Oregon!

I hope you all are doing well despite the challenges we have all faced in the recent past, and we hope the news from big table farm and this wine release will bring a short respite from our topsy turvy world.  

Clare and I have enjoyed the slower/quieter time of short days and long nights.  We have been planning all kinds of projects which will make for a busy spring and summer!  I am writing today to let you know our 2020 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and the Wild Bee Chardonnay and 2019 Syrah are now available!  Where is the Pelos Sandberg you ask?  Read on.  In lieu of single vineyard wines we will be releasing limited amounts of library wines – if this is of interest to you, please email Anna at and she will send you the list of what is available. We do still have a few 19’s left, but they are going fast!

Given the challenges of the 2020 vintage we made just one pinot noir and one chardonnay.  The growing season was amazing and we were teed up to make some great wines.  I was looking forward to an easy harvest after all the challenges that 2020 brought.  And then the fires started. An unusual east wind fanned the flames and the smoke was so thick it was unsafe to breathe.  Most of the large fires were 20-30 miles away but some smaller ones were much closer.  Fortunately, we were just frightened but unharmed.  Not everyone was so lucky – lives were lost and property destroyed, many are still trying to rebuild their lives almost 2 years later.

Smoke is a relatively new phenomena for winemakers to deal with.  We are still trying to understand how it affects the fruit and subsequent wine.  My assistant, Vince and I spent a great deal of time and energy trying to forge a path forward, to make the best wine possible, in collaboration with our industry peers, both in the Willamette valley, the west coast and globally.  I am extremely proud of the wines we have made.  You have already had the 2020 Laughing Pig Rose and Pinot Gris, so I am sure you will also enjoy the pinot noir and chardonnay.  One of the compromises we made was to put all of our fruit into our Willamette blends to bolster with the best barrels in the cellar. The resulting two wines are delicious, and I have and will continue to enjoy them – which is an important point. I drink the wines I make because I get to make wines that I (and Clare) want to drink (sometimes a little more than I should).  Really – life is too short – and I wouldn’t ask you to buy/drink something that I wouldn’t drink myself.  I stand behind everything we put in a bottle.

All the animals on the farm are doing well.  The cows are still in the barn this time of year, the deep bedding keeps them warm and dry and off the pastures until they dry out and the grass starts to grow again.  The laying flock of 20 or so has had to defend from a local red tail hawk, although the kestrels have returned, and I think they keep the red tails moving and away from the chickens.  The dogs and cats are good, and Clare rides Huston regularly with Hummer in tow.  Broiler chickens, pigs and kid goats are all ordered and will start arriving in April – and lambs!  We have a deposit on 8-10 and are hoping to incorporate them into the vineyard to control the under-vine growth.  This is an uncommon practice so we have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to set things up so that we are successful – check back in a year or two and maybe I’ll have an answer!

The vineyard is now in year two and we have another 2 or so acres planned to be planted this spring – with cuttings from Sunnyside vineyard – we are excited about this!  Thank you Lucy and Tom!  Trellis will go in this year and unfortunately we will need to order replacement plants that the heat dome killed last June (115 here), about 20-25%.  We will know exactly how many come May.

We had a great crew for 2021 and I think we made some nice wines – it was drama free which was a huge relief.  We are scheduled to bottle the Laughing Pig Rose April 4 and will make it available to you shortly thereafter.  Aside from our spring and summer projects here at the farm, we are planning on participating in IPNC this summer, end of July, a mostly outdoor event that took a pandemic hiatus.  Also, Clare has started hosting tastings again at the Atelier in Carlton.  They are by appointment and are booking fast, so if you are planning a trip and want to visit, please reach out soon.

Congratulations are in order to Laura Lillebo – she has retired!  We are sad to see her go and will miss her.  Anna Hatcher, who we have known for a long time, has stepped in and is rapidly learning the ropes.  Her ready smile makes her a great addition to our team!

Clare has also continued to paint. She has made it a priority and carves out time regularly to spend in her studio, which is at the Atelier in Carlton. If you come for a tasting, her paintings are also on display there for visitors to see. It is really fun to watch it all happen – I don’t know how she has so much energy and gets so much done!

2020 Willamette Valley Pinot noir – we chose to bring in all our contracted fruit and paid all our growers in full.  We looked at the vintage as a learning opportunity and attempted to make the best wine we could (as we always do!)  I believe we have succeeded despite the challenges and I look forward to sharing our efforts with you.  Fruit forward and spicy, it is delicious now and there is a delicacy to it that tells me it should be enjoyed sooner rather than later.  Per usual it is bottled without filtration, and due to the pandemic we opted for a label that went on at bottling, rather than our hand labeling efforts of the past.  Lulu – an American Guinee hog, is on the label. 2230 cases produced, $45/bottle, and yes, order 6 plus and we cover ground shipping.

2020 Wild Bee Chardonnay – the white wines were relatively unaffected by the challenges and winemaking proceeded as normal. We still chose to forgo barrel selections to ensure the wine we bottled was our best it could be.  Malolactic complete, a touch of new oak and yes – also bottled without filtration.  1250 cases produced, $30/bottle, buy 6 or more and yours truly pays the FedEx bill.

2019 Syrah – Funk Estate Vineyard.  Still from the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater in eastern Oregon, we really enjoy having this wine in our cellar and working with rich funk of Saviah in Walla Walla.  I enjoy the trip to pick up the fruit, even though it is a quick one.  Dark fruit, black olive, soft and supple – I open and enjoy over 3-4 nights.  I hope you will too! 147 cases produced, $68/bottle. 6 or more here too for complimentary shipping.

As always I must conclude by thanking you for continuing to buy and enjoy our wines – Clare and I pinch ourselves regularly for our amazing adventure – thank you for being a part of it!  Cheers! Brian and Clare

Savoring the last of summer and focusing on simple pleasures!


August 20, 2021

Howdy all from western Oregon!

We are doing great here despite all of the challenges of the recent past, and we hope the same for you! 2021 harvest is fast approaching and we are keeping our fingers crossed for an uneventful and beautiful finish to the growing season.  2020 is just bottled, and while we have decided to forgo any single vineyard or barrel selections wines, I am pleased with the results.  And, of course we have a few more gorgeous 2019’s to share with you today!


The Farm

Our last significant rain here was mid June, so like the rest of the west it has been pretty dry here.  Our practice of rotational grazing has made our pastures just a little more resilient so the cows are doing very well.  Red Fred got a reprieve – he had six of six healthy calvies this year and is back in with the ladies after a 6 week break.  We try to time calving season to correspond with the spring flush of grass, so that everyone is outside and has lots to eat.  He is very gentle and his calves look great!  We got kid goats again this year, 6, to eat the brush and blackberry along the fence lines and on the steep parts of our place.  These little ruminants are my favorite – they are super cute, eat blackberry all day long, and then provide us with tasty chops in the fall.

Lulu and Lovely - American Guinee hogs are also very sweet this year, they have a great life close to kitchen (scraps!) and half a dozen pear trees that are beginning to drop their fruit.  They are well fed and subsequently we are too! My favorite is the sausage that Clare makes.  The broiler chickens are in the freezer and Clare got a new flock of layers that are doing really well, the seem to have a much more outgoing and busy personality than the last bunch – they have started laying and will keep us in eggs for the next couple years. 

Levi and Clementine are both doing well, but getting old.  Levi is eleven and still gets around just fine, but Clementine is 15.5 and is moving pretty slow. She is completely deaf so relies on Levi for cues as to when to bark, and Clare and I use hand waving to try to coax her in the right direction.  She is still naughty though and will help herself to the contents of the fridge if we forget to lock it!  Bob the cat is still mousing and has a young apprentice, Stanley, who showed up here about 6-8 weeks ago.  Hopefully Bob’s fabulousness will rub off on him!   Clare’s horses Hummer and Huston are stinky as ever. Hummer is retired from all riding and pulling, leaving Huston without a teammate, so these days Clare mostly just rides him which she loves, and always comes back with a huge grin on her face. Clare has put together her late summer/fall zine, chock full of BTF favorites! As soon as it’s printed it will be in your orders. 

Most of the vines we planted in the spring are doing ok, but some were damaged by the unseasonable and extremely hot heatwave we had in June.  We will know the extent of the damage next spring, but until then some of the crispy little plants are hard to look at.  We have another 1.8 acres planned for next spring with cuttings taken from the old vine Wadesville at Sunnyside vineyard.  Thank you Luci and Tom!  For the established sites we are optimistic we will make some nice wine in 2021 – a little rain would be nice and some cool fall weather too, but we will make the best of what we are given.

The Atelier in Carlton is working well, especially from my perspective.  Our home is no longer a tasting room, office, staff breakroom and storage space, I am a much happier person!  We were given the opportunity to purchase the building in Carlton, so it will be home away from home for Big Table Farm for the foreseeable future.

The Wines

2019 seems like a lifetime ago!  Days of innocence, predictability even if hectic.  The cool finish and a little rain to end the growing season has produced wines that while juicy, are perfumed and complex and beautiful and spicy yet with some restraint.  The Wild Bee Chardonnay, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Pinot Noir released this past spring have all met with praise, I hope same for the 5 we have for you today.  The Pelos Sandberg is sold out, but we do still have some Wild Bee and Willamette Valley Pinot left  to sell.  Also, our second wine from 2020, our just bottled skin contact Pinot Gris.

2019 Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir – I view this wine as a best of what we can offer from the YC AVA.  Comprised of four different sites, each brings a different perspective of the vintage.  I think this might be our best version yet, and I hope that one day we can include some of our own homegrown fruit in this blend as well.  The label is a barn that we pass by regularly, Clare and I love the old barns of Yamhill county so we try to preserve them by featuring on the label.

235 cases produced, west side road barn, 68/bottle.  Shipping is included on purchase of 6+ bottles!


2019 Sunnyside Vineyard Pinot Noir – the adage of the best fertilizer is the farmers footsteps is supremely exemplified by Luci and Tom of Sunnyside vineyard.  Their vines are mere steps from their home and they tend each block, each row and each vine with such detail, diligence and care it is an honor that they have continued to sell me fruit since 2011.  Planted in 1970, this vineyard decidedly falls into the old vine category for the Willamette valley and we are thrilled that Luci and Tom allowed us to take cuttings from their vines to bring a little more of the Sunnyside magic to BTF.  Speaking of magic, I think that is a perfect word to describe the 2019 version of Sunnyside pinot – it is going to seemingly disappear from your glass, and from our inventory.  Be quick!

242 cases produced, a happy hen from Big Table Farm on the label, $68/bottle, and of course complimentary shipping on 6 or more bottles!


2019 Cattrall Bros Vineyards Pinot Noir – Bill and Tom are an inspiration, planting and farming their vineyard certified organically since the 1970’s.  We buy about half of Tom’s 3 acre vineyard since 2009. It is typically one of the last vineyards we pick and is consistently acid driven with equal parts strawberry/cherry fruit and spicy forest floor.  It also appears to effortlessly maintain its youthful energy long after it has been bottled.

134 cases produced, the famous cabover 47 Ford flatbed with a couple catahoula hounds onboard.  68/bottle and on the house shipping for half case or more orders.

2019 Yamhill Carlton Chardonnay – like the Pinot Noir version, this might be our best effort yet, or maybe the 2019 growing season was particularly kind to our homecourt AVA.  Nevertheless we will take the deliciousness no matter how it came about.  Richness balanced with raciness is how I would describe this wine, and regardless of what’s inside the bottle the label is gorgeous! 

90 cases produced, blossoms, 48/bottle and yes – 6 or more bottles qualify for complimentary shipping on this one too!

2019 Eola Amity Chardonnay – the Eola Amity hills are proving to be a great place to be a chardonnay vine.  We have been working with Chardonnay from the AVA since 2011 and the warm days and cool evening breezes make wines with ripe fruit and crisp acidity an easy win.  I hope you agree with me.  The label is also a winner – Clare loves her honey(bees)!

Honeybees on the label, 91 cases produced, $48/bottle.  Mix and match to six or more and we will send sans shipping


2020 Pinot Gris – Orange as always!  We have been buying Pinot Gris from Brian and Jill O’Donnel at Belle Ponte for four years now and we couldn’t be happier!  They are also in the Yamhill Carlton AVA.  We fermented with skins and stems per BTF normal, giving this wine it’s color and more importantly red fruited flavors and more texture and tannin than if we pressed and just used the juice to make white wine.  It is exceptionally seafood friendly! 

Assorted farm grasses, plants and weeds on the label, 68 cases produced, $36/bottle and yes 6+ bottles purchased equals a good shipping deal for you!

We truly appreciate your continued purchase and enjoyment of our wines.  Our work is possible only through your opening and sharing our wine with friends and family, thank you!  Please use the most convenient way to get in touch with us, phone, text or email, so the we can put wine in your glass, on your table and in your cellar.  Thank you again, Brian and Clare and the team at Big Table Farm.  Cheers!