Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Pinot noir’

Growing Pinot Noir in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

July 31st, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

vineyard2013 has been a relatively good growing season so far for Oregon Pinot Noir. We had an early spring in terms of warmer temperatures and drier weather in April and May. Budbreak and bloom were on time or slightly ahead and we just concluded fruit set. The clusters are very full and berry size is even. We will be counting clusters and weighing clusters in the next couple of weeks to determine how much fruit to cut off to maximize quality.

We have raised catch wires to the top of the posts and hedged the vines. We have also removed leaves on the east side of the vines to open up the canopy and expose the fruit to cool morning sunlight. We are cutting and plowing under more cover crop to eliminate competition for water, as we are having a few more hotter days than normal and drier ground water. In fact, our number of hours hotter than 50 degrees is similar to California’s Sonoma County so far this year. We have had a few more days of higher than normal humidity, as well, that increases propensity for mildew pressure. Therefore, we have been more diligent in our spray program to ensure the vines are protected. The drier than normal conditions have made this easier to manage.

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Wine Travel

May 11th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

wine travel1smNot all wine enthusiasts have the opportunity to travel to Oregon’s wine country to explore the wonderful valley where grapes are grown and wine is made.  Therefore, it’s important for us as winemakers to travel to markets across the country to share our life’s work with others.  We have had the opportunity over the last couple of weeks to do just that.  You might ask: “why travel to the midwest this time of year?”  The answer is simple – right now is the slow period in the vineyard.  In April the vines will begin the new growing season and there will be work to do.  Most of us are farmers first, and without close attention to the vineyard, we are not able to produce the quality of Pinot Noir that is expected from the Willamette Valley.

So we found ourselves in Minnesota, Iowa, and Chicago during one of those late winter snow storms that reminds us that spring is still a ways off.  But fortunately the storm passed quickly and travel carried on.  We are very excited about the increased awareness of Oregon Pinot Noir in Minneapolis.  It seems to align with Minneapolis’ recognition as the “foodiest city” in the country and its new-found love of holistic culinary eateries.

Chicago continues to be one of the best restaurant cities in the country, and where there is good food, there is good wine.  Chicagoans are beginning to discover the great versatility of Pinot Noir with food pairing and that Oregon’s more elegant and higher acidic pinots are a perfect match for the foods they love.

 

We had great success in both markets, with new retail placements and glass pours at many of the top restaurants.  We look forward to returning next year, to rekindle friendships and cultivate new ones, over a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.

Budbreak 2013

May 4th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

budbreak blogWe started seeing budbreak on April 15th this year.  We haven’t had budbreak this early since 2005!  Why are we excited about this?  Budbreak is the “official” beginning of the seasonal growth cycle of the vines.  Although weather and temperatures may have a slight impact on the speed at which the vines grow through the season, everything hinges on and calculates back to the number of days since budbreak; whether it be the timing of bloom, fruit set, veraison, or harvest.

Why is this so important for us here in the Willamette Valley?  We are in a cooler climate than most grape growing regions and therefore do not get as many degree hours of heat per day.  So it is important for us to get as many days above 60 degrees as possible.  An earlier spring and later fall both help in providing those additional days.  Regardless of the weather, it still takes the vines about 180 days from budbreak to harvest (full ripening of the fruit).  It is approximately 110 days from bloom to harvest.

We consistently are pushing against the envelope in October to get fruit ripe before the rains start in earnest. So the more dry time we get, the better.  And an earlier budbreak helps to give us that time.  We hope we are blessed with equal good fortune throughout the summer months!

Winemaking is a Celebration

April 27th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

060Wine drinkers often drink wine as a celebration.  I like to think of it as a holistic celebration of life.  First comes the growing of the grapes.  This process requires us to work in concert with nature (and we choose to do this organically and holistically) for approximately nine months, to produce the best possible fruit.  During that process, there are dozens of workers using their eyes, hands, minds, and feet to work the vines and nurture the soil.  We must dance with the weather and sing to the sun.  And thus we celebrate the harvest of the fruit we have toiled to grow all summer long.

In the winery, it is a concert of activity mostly performed by the fruit itself; fermenting, fermenting again, and then growing and aging in barrel.  And there are many of us performing different activities to ensure a safe environment for the grapes to do what they do best.  So it is a cadence and movement that are performed in the winery to evolve the wine into something new.  At the time of bottling, we again celebrate the completion of another stage in the evolution of the wine.

With the wine in bottle, there is a dance and song that many individuals perform as the wine is marketed, transported, and sold throughout the world to the end consumer.  Everything that goes into grape growing and winemaking and wine selling, I do not view as many individual businesses just doing their jobs.  We are all working in concert, in the celebration of life, as family.

 

Wine & Civilization

April 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

Wine  civilizationWho would have ever thought there would be wine grapes grown, and wine made, in every state in the country today?  Having grown up in the midwest, it’s inconceivable to me that grapes are being grown in North Dakota, Montana, or Iowa.  But they are.  Did you know that prior to prohibition, Oregon farmers were growing grapes and making wine?  Missouri was the largest grape-growing state at the time, and New York was the largest producer of wine.  And at the same time Spanish priests were planting grapes in California, Thomas Jefferson was planting them in Virginia.

It is amazing that everywhere people live, and in fact, wherever civilization has existed, grapes have been grown and wine has been made. There is proof that wine was produced by ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece as early as 4000 BC.

So I suggest that growing grapes and making wine is not just a lifestyle, it is part of the human condition.  It is natural and even inherent to grow, produce, and consume a product that is founded on farming and fermentation.

So explore the contrasts of wine from different regions across our great country.  While we may have many different beliefs, priorities and climates; we seem to all enjoy the growing of grapes and the making of wine.   Maybe this is what is meant by “purple mountain majesties”!

 

 

Message in a Bottle

April 13th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

message in a bottleGenerally wine lovers cherish fond memories of the occasion for which they opened a particular bottle of wine.  Whether a gathering of close friends, an enchanting gala, or a quiet evening by the fire, we can think back to what made that time meaningful.

For me as a winemaker, I am transported back to the year that wine was created.  Immediately after uncorking a wine, the deep aromas and first sip remind me of what was happening with our family and farm the year the grapes were grown and the wine was barreled.  Any weather anomalies we may have had that year, any especially wet or dry months, late freezes or perfect Indian summers rise to the surface.  What else happened during that summer?  Maybe a calf was born, one of our girls took their first bike ride or acted in a local theater play, we got a new loader, we lost a tote of grapes at harvest, or the birds invaded with more gusto than usual.

A singular open bottle evokes memories of the winemaking itself during that season – the evolution of the wine, whether the fermentation went fast or slow, how it tasted going into barrel, the magic of one particular barrel in the cellar, and of course the release of the vintage.  Every sip of that wine is a celebration of the life that transpired that year – both the good times and the challenges.

 

Do The Glasses Really Matter?

March 30th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

wine glasses matterYes!

Wine glasses are designed for different varietals and for different reasons.  Is it necessary to use the “correct” glass every time?  No.  And probably not practical. However, there are a couple of guidelines that may help you enjoy your wines more.

A larger glass is always better, regardless of a red or white wine.  White wines typically do not need as large a bowl to aerate, but it doesn’t hurt.  It is unfortunate when wines are tasted and/or served in a small glass, because the aromas are stifled.  Red wines especially need bigger bowled glasses so they can be agitated more to open up, stir the aromatics, and warm to the occasion.

 

 

To Each His Own

March 9th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

wine is like musicWe often hear from guests in our tasting room that they don’t know how to explain what they are tasting, and therefore can’t say why they like or don’t like a wine.  I sometimes use the analogy that wine is like music – you and I may like (or dislike)the same song, but for different reasons.  The same applies to wine.  Different experiences and tastes may bring us to the same conclusion, or to two very different conclusions about a particular vintage.  It’s not always necessary to articulate why, but it IS important to realize what your particular tastes are.  That’s the joy (and benefit) of wine tasting!

 

 

I am an Oregonian!

February 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

I am an OregonianHow does one become an Oregonian?  Those of us who’ve moved here from a different state to live understand what I’m asking.  We moved here 10 years ago from Chicago and sometimes I still feel like I am not considered to be an Oregonian by some.  Oregonians are proud, easy going people, and very friendly, but like many people everywhere, some Oregonians have a hard time accepting change.  I’m still told regularly that I’m not an Oregonian.  I walk too fast and talk too fast and drive too fast.  Many things that used to drive me crazy I now accept as part of the culture, like never pumping my own gas.  I use to be  frustrated that I am not allowed to do this basic task when I have been doing it for almost 20 years.  Now I think of having a gas station attendant pump my gas as a little gift so I don’t have to get out of the car on a rainy winter day.

I’ve discovered there isn’t a magic formula for becoming an Oregonian.   I do know that you feel like one before you are one.  You can’t change Oregon, but it changes you. These days I am slowing down.  I am starting to understand small town living, look forward to talking to people on 3rd Street, and I have found that as I’ve made friends and gotten to know my neighbors, I’m not too concerned anymore about not being considered an Oregonian.  I just absolutely love living here and I can’t think of any place I would rather be than this wonderful place called Oregon.

Hey, I am an Oregonian!

~Nicolette

 

Wine & Chocolate

February 16th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

pinsperationWine and chocolate are often paired together, particularly during this romantic time of year.  Why?  Just ask Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over:  “Wine is liquid sensuality: Its heady bouquet stimulates the appetite and its velvet caress soothes that desire. What other drink is described as both ‘voluptuous’ and ‘muscular’? And when you pair wine with the mouth-coating luxury of chocolate, the combination is impossible to resist.”

And scientifically speaking, they’re made for each other.  The acid in wine and the fat in chocolate are natural characteristics that balance the other on the palate.  The more fat in the chocolate, the more acid needed to offset it.

Also, chocolate is considered to have an “earth” characteristics, as opposed to a “fruit” characteristics.  So if you eat chocolate with a more earthy wine, you will find that they pair quite nicely.  You might often see chocolate, or cocoa, used as a descriptor for wine flavors.  Chances are that particular wine will be a pleasing complement to chocolate.  Now for the coup de grape, there are chocolatiers that make truffles infused with wine.  We have wine truffle chocolates in our Inn guest rooms to enjoy.  Heaven!