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 bigtablefarm.com 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