Seyval Blanc – Two Oregon wineries grow hybrid

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Much like the universe, opportunities for growing wine grapes in Oregon seem virtually limitless and ever-expanding. Where Oregon’s wine world has been seemingly constrained by its shining stars —Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and even Pinot Gris and Riesling — it is currently expanding to include a host of interesting and more unusual wine grapes. Enter Seyval Blanc.

Seyval Blanc is the belle of the ball all along the eastern seaboard, from the Carolinas deep in the south, all the way north to Nova Scotia. Try to find a winery in New York’s Finger Lakes region that doesn’t produce a Seyval. Its popularity also spreads to Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Canada, England and, yes, even as far west as Oregon… >> Read more here on Oregon Wine Press.

David Hill Vineyard

History in the Making

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Every bottle tells a story. Some tell the tale of pure passion, romance, if you will. Others are thrillers, wines born from a plot-twisting vintage — known so well here in Oregon. Then, there is “History,” the first collection showcasing grapes from some of the Northwest’s oldest sites, offering an evolving story of past meets present, a saga like no other.

A special project for winemaker Melissa Burr of Stoller Family Estate, “History” is a partnership between her and owner Bill Stoller. For Burr, History not only allows an opportunity to focus on interesting wines, but also on a vineyard’s own story, connecting time, place and people. “You can see what’s happening through the lens of the wine,” Burr said. “You learn who the people are that planted the vineyards, because their stories become a part of that wine.”

After Burr’s mother-in-law, Kristie Gensler, purchased the historic Mont Elise Vineyard in 1999, Burr discovered she wanted to be a winemaker. She also knew one day… >> (read more here on Oregon Wine Press)

carbonic maceration wine bottles

Inside Out – Fermentation within the grape makes for fun, fruity wine

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The Oregon wine industry straddles a fine line, keeping one foot firmly planted in tradition and the other in innovation. Some avant-garde Oregon winemakers are experimenting with carbonic maceration, a style traditionally used for Beaujolais Nouveau — Gamay Noir known for its swift fall release — in Beaujolais, France, but adapting the technique to work best in their wine cellars and with Oregon fruit.

Sterling … of Holden Wines says, “I like bright, fresh wines and love Beajuolais, where this process is intrinsic to the style. I keep it in my brain as a way to make a more vin de soif style, an approachable wine, as well as something that can mitigate potential problems.” Whitted describes how this technique worked to his advantage in 2017…>> (read more in Oregon Wine Press)


For other articles on winemaking techniques:

Lambic – The Wine Minded Beer

Barrel of Possibilities – oak programs a matter of taste

Treasure of Trousseau – Red Jura could be Oregon gold


Pinot Noir Auction Slam Dunk

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Two days to taste 81 lots of the Willamette Valley’s best 2016 Pinot noir is a big job for anyone, but buyers (and writers) rose to the challenge. April 6-7, 2018 marked the third annual Pinot Noir Auction at the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, OR. Producers brought their A-game, generating over $800,000 in revenue to benefit the marketing and educational initiatives of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

The auction presented 78 lots of one-of-a-kind Pinot noir wines and three collaborative lots of Chardonnay from the 2016 vintage. Each wine was produced in quantities of five, 10 or 20 cases, and will only be available to the public through resale by the winning bidder.

Veteran wine auctioneer Fritz Hatton ran the show. Opening bids throughout the auction were greeted by a flurry of raised paddles, resulting in frequent bidding wars and rapid price escalation.

Not surprising, the top selling Pinot noir came from winemaker Maggie Harrison of Antica Terra (watch the video of the action below). The five-case lot produced entirely from the Antica Terra Vineyard, sold for a whopping $33,000.

Reflecting what is clearly a stellar vintage, the top five auction lots were:

• Lot 26: Five cases of Antica Terra “Alder Creek” Pinot noir: $33,000
• Lot 82: Five cases of Zena Crown Vineyard “Barrel and Foot” Pinot noir: $24,000
• Lot 11:Five cases of Alexana Estate Winery “By A Landslide” Pinot noir: $20,000
• Lot 83: 10 cases of Hyland Estates “The Perfect Pair” Pinot noir: $20,000
• Lot 75: Five cases of Bethel Heights “Vesper Bell” Pinot noir: $19,000

According to 2018 auction chair Laurent Montelieu (owner/winemaker for Solena Estate and Hyand Estate), “The 2018 auction exceeded our highest expectations. There was tremendous enthusiasm among the trade for the Willamette Valley region, as well as for the 2016 vintage, which we expect to go down in history as a benchmark year for Oregon.”

Laurent Montelieu and David Lett

Dick Erath and Laurent Montelieu

lambic beer

Lambic – The wine-minded beer

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Lambic, thought to be the oldest beer in the western world, may also be the most unusual and most polarizing: Some see it as the ultimate expression in the art of brewing; others don’t think of it as beer at all.
True Lambic is produced in a specific part of Belgium, where the style originated. If made here, the beer is “Lambic-inspired.”  Because of its fermentation style, it’s one of the closest beers to wine, expressing a sense of place, or terroir.

Exposed to wild yeasts and bacteria — as opposed to cultivated strains of brewer’s yeast — the beer develops distinctively dry, vinous and cider-like flavors with high acidity and a sour aftertaste. Brettanomyces (Brett), a volatile yeast strain typically unwelcome in both breweries and wineries, dominates Lambic’s fermentation, delivering the funky, earthy, tart flavors people either love or hate. Click here to Read the full article with reviews of Oregon lambic-inspired beers.

barrel being fired

Barrel of possibilities – oak programs a matter of taste

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It’s no secret: Winemakers take their barrels very seriously, which makes the following true story sound almost comical. When asked which is his most important tool in barrel selection? Steve Girard, owner of Benton-Lane Winery, replies: “My cheese grater.”

The longtime winemaker told the story about how his cooperage, the company that makes barrels, started sending him different barrels from what he’d selected. On his next barrel trip to Burgundy, he brought a cheese grater with him. Walking among the impressively tall stacks of drying staves, he rubbed them with his grater. He noted the aromatics, which he later compared to the barrels he was shipped. If they didn’t match his descriptions, he returned the barrels.

Much like an artist’s palette adds vibrancy and dimension to a canvas, a winemaker’s choice of barrel has a significant impact on wine. And like the painter’s range of color, there’s a multitude of options in a cooperage. From the type of wood (oak, acacia, chestnut…) to the wood’s origin (Oregon, France, Hungary, Russia…), to the grain, the toast, the size of vessel and whether the barrel is new, used or neutral, all these elements impart specific aromas, flavors and textures to a wine.

(Read the full story here on Oregon Wine Press.)

trousseau grapes

Treasure of #Trousseau – Red #Jura could be #Oregon gold

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The Oregon wine industry is planted on a bedrock of courage and calculated risks. Well-studied in enology and viticulture, early growers such as David Lett and Charles Coury determined certain wine grapes could thrive here in the Willamette Valley; nonetheless, it was a risk and bold move to plant north in Oregon. Yet, they knew the climate, literally, was ripe for Pinot Noir and other varietals.

Over the decades, Oregon vintners have continued to explore a range of vinifera, resulting in additional success, and the exploration continues.

Enter Trousseau Noir… (click here to read the complete article on Oregon Wine Press)


Other articles about unusual Oregon wines that may interest you.

Uncovering Pet Nat
Gruner the Great: Gruner Veltliner
Oregon’s First Fernet

Feast Portland

Feast on This – Celebration samples hottest food, coolest drinks

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From bacon to kale to pumpkin spice, we know when something catches on, we’ll see it on every menu, food blog, atop a doughnut or mixed into ice cream — Blue Star, Salt & Straw, I’m looking at you. But if you want to know what’s moving and shaking right now in the world of food and drink, look no further than this year’s Feast Portland.

For the double scoop on drink and food trends discovered at Feast Portland, read the entire article here on Oregon Wine Press.

cluster of grapes

Romancing the #Vine

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Yeah, read it into it what you will, a reader always does. But I will remind you, it’s about the vine. It always is.


He stands before her
She is naked
All life and limbs
His hot breath on her bare extremities
Cuts the chill of the biting morning air
She quivers

He stands before her
Coaxing from her
Gentle beauty
She grows
She develops
All the promise of the future

He savors each moment with her
As if it’s their last
He’s tender
He loves her
Sees things in her no other sees

He persuades her
Tugs her
Pulls her
Supports her
Tucks her in
He moves her where he wants her to be
And she surrenders to his will
Letting him guide her
Where he wants her to be

He stands before her
His strong and agile hands
Fondling her
Her juicy flesh
Her plump fruit
And she does what she must
She submits
She succumbs

He stands before her
Charming her
Encouraging her
He wants her to finish
Hopeful of her potential
He picks
He plucks
He casts her off
Leaves her to be savored by others

She stands alone
A shell of what she once was
And she thinks only of him
He who allowed her to be

She retreats into herself
She wonders if he even remembers
Knowing he only thinks about the next
As she prepares to give all of herself
To her love

orange wine

Orange Crush: Skin-contact whites color harvest season and cellar

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As the leaves turn and pumpkins ripen on the vine, the color orange reigns. Even the Harvest Moon casts a tangerine hue as the autumnal equinox approaches. Unlike the calculated timing of the season, some orange wines are best described as “accidents gone deliciously right.” No surprise for owner Matt Berson of Love & Squalor, who says, “Isn’t that the prevailing thread in the history of wine?”

Produced from white wine grapes using the red technique of fermenting fruit along with skin and seeds — the source of a wine’s color — orange wine represents a category all its own, with texture, weight and a broad palate of character as its trademarks. Not to be confused with rosé, traditionally crafted from red varietals such Pinot Noir, Grenache and Tempranillo, orange wine is most commonly made from Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, whose grapes are actually pink in color.

Back to the scene of the “accident.” (Read the rest of the article here at the Oregon Wine Press.)