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As Jancis’s recent article What will fill red burgundy’s place? indicated, the need to find more affordable but still high quality Pinot Noir has greatly increased. Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become one of the go-to regions for Pinot Noir, its reputation being almost entirely defined by the variety. Recent posts on our Members’ forum have commended wines of the area and led to interest in specific recommendations. With these things in mind, I’ve decided to go a little deeper to offer insight on what distinguishes each of the six recognised AVAs within the larger Willamette Valley AVA. Much of what follows concerns the unique growing conditions within these appellations, which lead to insights into what we can expect to find from the wines.

As understanding of the region has increased, unique subzones that are not yet recognised as AVAs have been discovered. Some of those are already in the process of seeking recognition from the TTB; others are still in the development phase. They are discussed at the end of the following guide.

In the section that follows on the six nested AVAs within the Willamette Valley AVA, I have not listed well-known wineries as these can readily be found online via any of the AVA websites, but these emerging subzones do not have websites and are not named on labels, so I have listed some of the key wineries in emerging subzones not yet recognised as AVAs so as to …

To continue reading this article, head on over to JancisRobinson.com where the article appears in full here. You will need to have a subscription to access the article. Subscription to JancisRobinson.com is £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($12.20/mo or $122 a year for you Americans) and includes searchable access to the new 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the 7th edition to the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs, as well as interactive discussions on the Purple Pages. Click here to sign up.

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Oregon Wine History Archive

Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon has an Oregon Wine History Archive that gathers recorded interviews with figures important to the region, as well as photos, records, wine labels, and other materials from the history of wine growing in Willamette Valley. In February I was able to tour the archive and it really is inspiring to know they are doing this work.

You can check out their website to see a huge collection of interviews from producers in the region. The website is listed below. They’ve been able to collect older video and audio interview recordings from others that have worked on history projects or book projects on the area. They have also been doing their own recorded interviews.

Here’s the website: https://oregonwinehistoryarchive.org/interviews-alphabetically/

If you search around on their site you can find part of their photo collection and a few other materials as well.

In February they asked to do a video interview with me as I have spent a lot of time studying, tasting, and interviewing producers in the region. The video has just been put online. In it they ask me how I got started in wine, how I approach my work, what advice I have for others wanting to write about wine, and what I think the future of the industry is, among other things.

(I’d had a horrible allergic reaction the night before the interview so you’ll have to forgive the puffy eyes and face on me here.)

Here’s the video.

Oral History Interview with Elaine Brown - YouTube

Cheers!

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Reducing Extraction in Pinot Noir: Thoughts from Prophet’s Rock Winemaker Paul Pujol
Elaine Chukan Brown

WHILE RELATIVELY YOUNG, CENTRAL Otago has quickly risen to the fore as one of the world’s top Pinot Noir-focused wine regions. Its wine erupted onto the scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, showcasing a fruit-forward style with plenty of amplitude. As vine age and winemaker experience have increased, Central Otago Pinot has developed a broader range of styles. In the last several years, one of the key shifts has been reducing and rethinking extraction in the cellar. Wineries such as Felton Road, Aurum, Doctor’s Flat and Amisfield, as examples, have moved from fuller styles with both more tannin and fruit matter to progressively lighter weight, lithe wines that retain Central Otago fruit character while increasing site transparency. With it, the freshness of the wines has also increased. While picking earlier is one aspect of the change, the more significant difference has come from reducing handling in the cellar.

Winemaker Paul Pujol of Prophet’s Rock was one of the first in the region to make this marked shift in winemaking. While other winemakers have reduced cellar-handling by decreasing punch-downs per day, Pujol has taken an even stronger approach by reducing his punch-downs to only one for the entire length of the fermentation process. He also does only two short pumpovers in that time, one early in fermentation to give a bit of air to the yeast and one at the end for homogenization without aeration. In each case both pump-overs are short and do not add significantly to extraction. Instead, Pujol chooses to merely keep the cap wet during the fermentation process using a literal garden-style watering can to sprinkle wine over it once or twice a day as needed. In Burgundy and the Rhône Valley it is not uncommon for winemakers to eliminate punch-downs during fermentation in a similar fashion. However, the choice is essentially unheard of in New World wine regions. Pujol started making the change in technique with his 2009 vintage of Prophet’s Rock, committing more fully to it over the next few years.

Tasting through multiple cuvées and across all Prophet’s Rock vintages, as well as with winemakers who utilize similar practices in both France and elsewhere, gives a picture of the effect …

To keep reading this article, head on over to Wine Business Monthly where it appears for free. It starts on page 54 of the May 2018 issue of the magazine. You can read it online through their digital magazine interactive format, or you can download the PDF. Here’s the link

https://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/?go=getDigitalIssue&issueId=10038

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Willamette Valley – Strong Candidates for Aging

At the end of last year Jason Lett of Eyrie in the Willamette Valley and I sat down for lunch. He brought with him two bottles to taste, both a bit of a risk because of their age, but they were chosen partially for that reason. I’d told him I wanted to talk about the ageability of Willamette Valley wine so he selected two very old bottles.

Eyrie not only helped start the region’s wine industry. Founder David Lett famously saved an extensive stock of his Eyrie wine all the way back to the inaugural vintage of 1970. In 2009, just a year after David Lett died, his wife Diana and their son Jason hosted a retrospective tasting of Eyrie wines back to their first vintage to help show how well wines from the area age. (I have always envied Jancis being at the tasting, though we can revel together in her report on the event.) Then, for the fiftieth anniversary of Eyrie in 2015, they hosted this tasting with an admittedly smaller selection of wines from across their then four decades. I was able to attend that tasting. There was a flight for each decade that included successful examples of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris in each.

Jason has also created a means of checking and resealing these older vintages to ensure that any leaving the winery for sale are sound. As a result, if older Eyrie is seen on a restaurant wine list it can be enjoyed as it likely got there after being guaranteed. Through their diligence in preserving such an extensive library of wine, and making them available to taste, the Lett family has demonstrated not only the ageability of their own wines, but also their region. Ageability is one of the hallmarks of the world’s truly great wines.

For our lunch, Jason intentionally selected two wines he had not certified so we could share the uncertainty of opening an old bottle. He also chose a variety many claim is too delicate to age beyond a few years, and that had not been …

To continue reading this article, head on over to JancisRobinson.com where the article appears in full here. You will need to have a subscription to access the article. Subscription to JancisRobinson.com is £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($12.20/mo or $122 a year for you Americans) and includes searchable access to the new 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the 7th edition to the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs, as well as interactive discussions on the Purple Pages. Click here to sign up.

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Look out for Willamette Valley 2017s

As Alder reported previously, there is a lot of excitement about the 2017 vintage in the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s principal wine region.

The 2017 harvest comes after three hot vintages in a row – 2014 through 2016 – for the Willamette Valley. The vintage was characterised by several key factors. Spring was cold, and quite wet. Cooler temperatures delayed the start of the growing season. Wet conditions, however, sped growth once it started while also delaying farmers’ ability to get into the vineyards to keep up with the growth. By early summer, conditions settled into warm and dry weather with good diurnal temperature variation to retain acidity, colour and phenolic potential. A few heat spikes did hit during the growing season but, unusually, smoke from the wildfires that hit the Pacific Northwest in summer 2017 provided an unexpected beneficial filter but no reported instances of smoke taint.

Harvest in Willamette started almost simultaneously with the fires that devastated California’s North Coast in October. For producers in Oregon, concern for their southern colleagues exacerbated the challenges of harvest. For producers in co-operative facilities this created unique challenges where space was shared with California-based vintners. Thomas Savre of Larry Stone’s Lingua Franca winery in the Eola-Amity Hills described how producers simply helped each other, stepping in if a winemaker had to return to California during the fires. Logistical winery needs such as lab work, bottling supplies and more were also affected in some cases since California’s North Coast serves as the epicentre for much of North America’s wine business. The California fires meant that many winery suppliers and shippers could not access the North Coast and were unable to fulfill orders until after the fires were under control. This served as a powerful reminder of how interconnected the wine world turns out to be, regardless of state boundaries.

Yields were incredibly abundant throughout the Willamette Valley, with some vineyards even leaving fruit on the vine thanks to good fruit set and abundant early growth. At the same time, the last several years have included a significant increase in planting new sites throughout the region. Many of those new vineyards came online in 2017, adding to the increase in fruit availability.

Overall, 2017 looks to be a structured vintage for the wines of the Willamette Valley. Wines I tasted from barrel – both in the very early stages during a visit in December, and then, more revealingly, as wines were finishing in March – were promising. The wines generally have good colour and ample tannin with no shortage of flavour. The wines I tasted from barrel showed …

To keep reading, head on over to JancisRobinson.com where the article appears in full here. You will need to have a subscription to access the article. Subscription to JancisRobinson.com is £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($12.20/mo or $122 a year for you Americans) and includes searchable access to the new 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the 7th edition to the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs, as well as interactive discussions on the Purple Pages. Click here to sign up.

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Traveling Germany

After finishing Prowein, Wines of Germany took around about-15 of us through the German countryside to meet with producers for three days. Due to my departing flight I was only able to be part of the travels for two days so had a quick go of it. It was of course lovely to taste the wine. Along with the tasting, I have to admit one of the most interesting parts of the trip was learning about the culture and wine scene of the countries and cities in which our fellow travelers live. One night during dinner a handful of us simply compared restaurant-wine culture in London, NYC, San Francisco, Moscow, and Rio. Pretty remarkable really.

Here’s a look back at the two days in Germany as shared during our travels via Instagram.

Winegrower Jens Bettenheimer of Weingut Bettenheimer in the Rheinhessen region of Germany discusses his viticultural practices. To capture the highest quality in the resulting wines, he believes it is important to focus on biologically-minded practices. At the core of this approach is soil health but also a holistic view of what that means. He follows moon cycles as has long been traditional in farming all over the world but also judges those cycles in relation to the weather at the time. While his farming is organically-minded he chooses not to be certified. His university thesis looked at the impact of copper use on soil health and soil biology. Copper is one of the primary treatments available for vineyard maintenance in organic farming. His studies showed that copper builds up significantly over time in the soils and effectively depletes the micro flora and micro fauna of the soils, which then reduces the vines ability to uptake nutrients from the soil. In rainy conditions under organic farming higher copper use becomes necessary as rains effectively wash necessary treatments from the vine. To avoid this increased copper use in especially rainy years he opts instead for products such as phosphoric acid that are not officially recognized by organic certifications but that he has found reduce overall impact on the site, and especially soils, while maintaining vine and fruit health and reducing disease pressure. #germany #rheinhessen #wine @winesofgermany @jens_bettenheimer

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Mar 21, 2018 at 2:11am PDT

Weingut Bettenheimer grows in sandy wild blown soils over chalk stone (with lime). The focus as a result is on varieties especially suited to these soils from the extended Pinot family, such as Chardonnay, Frauburgunder, and Spatburgunder, though also Sylvaner. Bettenheimer does also make a small proportion of Riesling but by shifting the focus to the Pinot family they have effectively distinguished themselves within the German market. While Chardonnay is less commonly thought of in relation to German wine, it appears throughout the country in small quantities. Jens Bettenheimer takes a particular interest in Chardonnay as he feels it is especially suited to the underlying chalky soils. He also enjoys working on honing the particular expression of the variety to the region with the idea of age-ability in mind. Here we taste a small lot experiment he has done of Chardonnay vinified without sulfur with skin contact. He also experiments with blocking malolactic conversion, for example, to see what creates best expression for the site with ageability and drinkability. In the end the various small lots are blended to create the finished Chardonnay. #germany #rheinhessen #wine @jens_bettenheimer @wines_of_germany

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Volker Raumland began making sparkling wine for his Sekthaus Raumland in 1981 from both the Rheinhessen and Pfalz wine regions. In 1986 he helped open up the German sparkling wine market by creating a mobile disgorgement and bottling machine that he advertised as a traveling service for all of Germany. After placing the advertisement in 1986 he quickly received over 100 phone calls from small producers all over the country who needed help disgorging their sparkling wine. For the next sixteen years he drove his machine in every direction across Germany. Without assistance or expertise it can be so difficult to disgorge traditional-method sparkling wine that producers will lose a lot of volume just by opening the bottles to release the yeast plug. It proved more economical to pay Volker for help, and his services, as a result, helped expand availability of quality sparkling wine from Germany. #germany #rheinhessen #pfalz #wine @wines_of_germany @sekthaus_raumland

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The German classic for mineral water. #germany #water @wines_of_germany

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Among the world’s greatest wonders is getting to see friends in unexpected parts of the world. What a blessing and how cool is this. Rafael and Ivannia are from Costa Rica. We met in Montreal as Rafael and I were in grad school together there. The week they became Canadian citizens, now so long ago, our grad school cohort took Rafael and Ivannia out to jokingly deliver a Quebecois citizenship ceremony. (We ate poutin served with a side of hotdogs and cabbage.) They have since lived in multiple Canadian cities, a US city, and now Germany, as is the life of an academic. I have since lived in multiple US cities, left academia, and become a wayward traveler of wine. And here we are meeting up for dinner in Düsseldorf tens years after the last time we saw each other in Quebec. Incredible. So great to see you two! Thank you for making time to visit! #germany #friends

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Mar 22, 2018 at 3:36am PDT

Copyright 2018 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

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Clos du Moulin

My week in Germany included tasting Clos du Moulin champagne for the first time. On the first full day of Prowein just one-hour into the program I bumped into several friends. Mister James Tidwell himself was there walking the event with Donaji Lira, who with James helps coordinate Texsom and Texsom International Wine Awards, and Amie Hendrickson, who runs Edmond Wine Shop in Oklahoma. Amie had won a Prowein-sponsored contest at Texsom in August last year and was flown to the event by the organizers as her prize. The four of us spent much of the day’s remainder tasting together, shuffling between exhibition halls to continuously change what region we were visiting.

(One of my favorite, albeit silly, parts of Prowein was simply being able to say things like, O! I’ll meet you in Portugal, while standing in the hall for Oregon, as if one really could cover the globe in that small space. In terms of wine, you could. Every country in the wine producing world was represented at Prowein.)

Before heading off for lunch, we decided to visit the Champagne Lounge and taste one champagne on the way. While we were walking, wondering which wine to try, James got to pick. His selection became clear when he simply stopped frozen in front of the Cattier booth, standing in front of the bottle of Clos du Moulin. It turned out it was a wine he hadn’t properly tried before, though he’d read of it repeatedly during his studies for the Master Sommelier certification.

Thanks to a mix of his world travel, reality as a master sommelier, time leading the wine list at The Four Seasons in Dallas, and work with Texsom and Texsom IWA, I think of James as someone who knows and has tasted almost everything in the world of wine. He’s like the human equivalent of Prowein itself – all ten exhibition halls and every wine producing country in the world are there inside his memory. So, to come across a wine he hasn’t tasted is a sort of epiphany. Even more special is to share the moment with friends. The four of us all tasted Clos du Moulin for the first time that morning.

Clos du Moulin stands as a special example in Champagne, not only because it is a beautiful wine – and it is, a beautiful wine – but also because of its distinctive origin. The wine is a vineyard-specific champagne grown in one of the very few clos of the region. While we can use the word clos to refer simply to a particular recognized vineyard, it is more often used to refer to an actually enclosed vineyard surrounded by a wall. The most famous clos in the world, Clos Vougeot, stands in Burgundy, but four examples from champagne are still grown and bottled as their own wines as well. Clos du Moulin is one of them.

The history of Clos du Moulin reaches to the time of Louis XV, when the site belonged to one of his trusted officers who also produced champagne. It went on to gain fame with the Russian Tsar’s. Through the 19th-century, Russia was one of the biggest export markets for champagne. Then, during the wars of the 20th century the site was all but destroyed, replanted again in the late 1940s. Incredibly, the site is still farmed with horses. Clos du Moulin is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as three vintages to ensure its balance, released after around 8 years in cellar.

The wine itself is beautiful. It carries that rare balance of delicacy and strength I so love to find in wine. Somehow the aromatics and mouthfeel feel as ethereal as chiffon even as tasting the wine is all encompassing. In the midst of a busy exhibition hall it was as if the world slowed down. The four of us all commented on it. Tasting the Clos du Moulin easy-filtered the world for us, as if it was some sort of inoculum to mayhem and once we’d swallowed we were temporarily immune to it. For the next while Prowein felt quiet.

Clos du Moulin has its typical wine notes – there is a hint of brioche on the nose, a bite of it again on the finish. In between there is a delicate dance of apple and pear, citrus and even faint nectarine. The finish is long. The acidity is bright and persistent but expertly housed in a lightly-creamy mousse. But it’s a wine that is more than that. It’s a reminder that wine is an experience, best shared with friends. It feels almost ceremonial, even standing in the midst of a vast exhibition hall. Drinking the Clos du Moulin with Amie, Donaji, and James, the wine felt like it bonded us, forever friends in the Clos du Moulin. My favorite part was the simplicity of it. Afterwards, we headed off quietly and ate our lunch.

Thank you to Cattier for hosting us for that moment, and for Prowein for making it possible. 

Copyright 2018 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

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ProWein

enjoying Tattinger 2006 Comte in the Champagne Lounge at Prowein with (from left) Tanja Klein, Essi Avellan, Mikael Falkman – the man for all seasons, he was a hilarious and wonderful host, me, Madeleine Stenwreth

Last year the organizers of Prowein saw me deliver a seminar at Texsom and afterwards invited me to attend their event in Germany this month. As a result, I’ve just returned from the three day event in Dusseldorf having tasted wines literally from all over the world while there. It was my first time at Prowein as well as my first visit to Germany, and I’m so grateful for the incredible opportunity.

Prowein proves to be a truly global wine forum with wineries from every wine producing country in the world represented. The tasting opportunity, and chance to connect with representatives of the world’s wineries as a result is unparalleled. At the same time there are seminars going in depth on everything from sustainability, to the growing conditions of a particular region, to regional expressions of specific varieties, to the history of a place. Seminars occur in two fashions. Prowein has a dedicated educational space they call the Prowein Forum with rooms devoted to master class level discussions on specific topics. Regions and educators compete to present in this space as it attracts high-level wine professionals from all over the world and every aspect of the wine industry. At the same time, regions and wineries are also able to offer seminars in their own wine fair floor space and many create special areas in their booths for this purpose. It’s incredible to walk the floor and find some of the most respected wine experts in the world giving talks all over Prowein. There were at least ten halls showcasing wine, while mixed into them was also a special section called Same but Different dedicated to regionally specific spirits and craft beers. With these the idea was to show off aspects of the drinks world that also carry that sort of regional specificity we associate with wine.

The event serves multiple interests with importers from all over the world finding new wineries to represent, wine students from sommeliers getting certified to WSET and Master of Wine hopefuls attending to taste-study for their exams, and even restaurants securing specific wines for their wine lists. I also spoke with several people working on books who use Prowein to add to the research they have already done. They are able to taste through a sizeable selection of wines and meet with the producers they might not be able to in person otherwise. The event offers them the opportunity to be comprehensive in their research in a way it is difficult to cover trying to go to each individual winery.

While there I was able to attend two different seminars – one on sustainability and another on terroir of champagne – as well as deliver a seminar with my dear friend Madeleine Stenwreth. New Zealand Winegrowers asked us to present a master class in the Prowein Forum looking at regional expression of Pinot Noir. It was a fun opportunity to present with dear Madeleine, and to share insight into the unique character of that place, New Zealand, we have each spent so much time studying. Afterwards we celebrated by walking over to the Champagne Lounge – a brilliant idea Prowein instituted six years ago with a beautifully lit, fresh tulip accented, white countertops space devoted entirely to the best of Champagne – then gave each other mini-tasting seminars on wines from some of the regions in which we’ve each specialized.

At Prowein I tried to taste as widely as possible. With the enormity of the event it is impossible to taste everything, or even a wine from every country. So, I let myself be rather spontaneous and amorphous about my approach on the first day so as to acclimate to the size of the fair and really get to know the lay of the land, and then was a bit more planned the second day. The third day I hurried to a few places I had hoped to visit and hadn’t fit in previously before departing on two days of winery visits in Germany. The one other thing that should be mentioned is how many people from all over the world attend. Though I traveled to Prowein on my own the entire time there was spent bumping into people literally from all over the world of wine. There is no loneliness at Prowein. There were even far more people I would have liked to see and didn’t manage to bump into.

Honestly, I couldn’t be more impressed with my time at Prowein. Enormous thanks to the Prowein team for including me this year. Thank you too to the New Zealand Winegrowers for including me in their seminar in the Prowein Forum.

Here’s a look at my time at Prowein via the Instagram collection I posted while there.

Just 5% of total global vineyard acreage is grown organically with a total of 360,000 ha organically farmed worldwide. France grows 9% of its vineyards organically. New Zealand 10%. Spain has 11% grown organically, which is the highest proportion of organic viticulture of one country in the world. Attending a Prowein seminar on sustainability hosted by Gonzales Byass. (Interestingly, China is rarely brought into these conversations currently but today China has a total area of vineyards farmed organically almost as large as Spain’s organically farmed vineyard area. It is unclear what portion of the country’s total vineyard area is but even so, do not be surprised when China starts becoming one of the drivers in the conversation on organic wine.) #germany #spain #prowein #wine @prowein_tradefair @gonzalezbyassus

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“What is the relationship between sustainability and quality? […] It is not just about soil but about life, not about the specifics or details [of your specific vineyard or place] but about how you articulate them together. All this situation [in your site] together makes a very unique matrix, what we admire but [as a culture making wine around the world these last 100 years] have not been able to understand very well. […] The question is, how can you transform the life of the current generation through a process of fermentation into the life of your next generation, your next crop. You begin to have a relation of different layers of other organisms that live in the vineyard. It is a balance of adaptability [to the site], ancient wisdom, and ageability [both in terms of the vineyard itself being long lived, and the wine in the bottle also being long lived].” – Rodrigo Soto of Veramonte, Ritual, and Neyen in Chile. Sustainability seminar hosted by Gonzales Byass at Prowein. #germany #chile #prowein #wine @prowein_tradefair @gonzalezbyassus @veramontewines @ritualwines

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Mar 19, 2018 at 2:15am PDT

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Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews by Hawk Wakawaka - 2M ago

Galicia

Jose Luis Mateo of Quinta da Muradella

Erin Drain and I just finished a week in Galicia focused primarily on the wines of Jose Luis Mateo and Quinta da Muradella in Monterrei, and those of Alberto Orte in Valdeorras. Erin represents Olé Imports, which brings regionally specific producers of Spain into the United States. Quinta da Muradella and Alberto Orte are each focused on understanding and preserving the viticultural heritage and quality potential of their respective regions, and as a result stand out as top vintners in each of their areas.

Traveling with Erin was an opportunity for me to take the deep dive approach I prefer, giving in depth time to understanding the work and approach that go into wines I respect and love. We had a fantastic trip. Both projects have been important to the development, as well as the preservation of heritage for their respective regions. It turned out too that our willingness to slow down and be with the producers to see what they wanted to show us meant we witnessed and tasted wines not previously seen by people outside the region. Some of the vineyards we visited were unbelievably remote and difficult to get to through hand-cut mountain roads. We even had to drive through a waterfall pool that went more than half way up the wheel-well of the jeep we were driving for one of them. It was outrageously fun, and felt incredibly special to see the vines once we arrived.

Here’s a look back at photos from our trip as shared along the way via Instagram. (I’m currently traveling German wine. If you want to follow along, check out the trip live as we go there directly on Instagram here.)

Galicia

Welcome to Vigo. #spain

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Mar 11, 2018 at 3:56am PDT

Walking Gorvia vineyard in the village of Pazo with Jose Luis Mateo. The site was the first he planted thirty years ago to make wine for his parents’ bar in Verin before going on to start his Quinta da Muradella winery. Gorvia sits at 410 meters in elevation in impressively rocky soils. The vines grow in a mix of alluvial soils full of granite, quartz, and shale rocks. The site grows a mix of varieties indigenous to Galicia. When phylloxera moved through the region in the 1890s it destroyed the region’s vineyards and afterwards entirely new varieties were planted through the area. At the heart of the Quinta da Muradella Project is Jose Luis’s commitment to preserving the region of Monterrei’s rich viticultural history. In his hunt for old vine sites he successfully rediscovered older indigenous varieties almost lost to the area and has focused his vineyards and winemaking on them ever since. #spain #galicia @erindrain

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Mar 12, 2018 at 5:45am PDT

For the wines of Quinta da Muradella Jose Luis Mateo has found focusing on the farming, using organic methods and focusing on the health of the soils, also matching the varieties to the conditions of the site, all for the sake of vine balance, also means there is less work to do when making the wine in the cellar, and to make interesting wines. Here he shows us a site where the soils had been depleted through previous farming practices. In the first photo (with the white flowers) you can see the naturally occurring cover crop that appears when the soil has begun to regain nutrients and be less compacted. The second photo shows the grasses that are the only plants that will grow when the soils have become compacted with little air, and less available nutrients. #spain #galicia @erindrain

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Tank tasting Candea wines with Jose Luis Mateo. #spain #galicia #wine @erindrain

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Mar 13, 2018 at 2:55am PDT

Visiting Chaves, Portugal for a walk around the old city. #portugal @erindrain

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Mar 13, 2018 at 12:41pm PDT

Jose Luis Mateo at the top of the Castelo de Monterrei discussing the history of winemaking and the geological history of Galicia as it relates to vineyards through the area. Winemaking began in the region during the Celtic era of the 5th century. The Castelo de Monterrei itself was built during the 12th century atop fortifications that go back to the Celtic period. The Celts occupied these southern areas of Galicia through Monterrei until the arrival of the Visigoths just before the 7th century. People of the Celtic era are considered the first Galicians. Winegrowing through the area goes through several important stages of development here in Galicia with this ancient Celtic period being the first. Phylloxera arrived to Monterrei in the 1890s and radically changed what was grown in the region as many varieties do not take easily to grafting. Contemporary commercial winemaking shifts importantly – from being primarily for home use as part of a general subsistence lifestyle – beginning in the 1970s but more earnestly in the 1990s. Jose Luis works to document the winemaking history through the region while also searching out the oldest vineyards through the extended area to find older varieties of the region. As a result several varieties indigenous to Galicia he has successfully recovered and for a few of them he remains the only person to grow and bottle them. He has recently found several varieties we are so far unable to identify as they had been lost entirely, found again in an abandoned vineyard in the mountains near Monterrei. Here we see Jose Luis, he and Erin, overlooking the valley, the hospital in the Medeval castle for pilgrims on the O Camino de Santiago, part of the fortification, the castle itself, and an ancient Roman road up the hill to the castle. #spain #galicia @erindrain

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As part of his work to understand his region, Jose Luis Mateo of Quinta da Muradella seeks out vineyards in different parts of and with different soil profiles of Monterrei. He vinifies the sites on their own, their varieties on their own as well in order to learn how the different growing conditions inform the typicity of both the varieties and of the place. Once the individual sites are made into wine he either brings them together with others as a regional blend, or if the site has really stood out and he has continued to work with it over many vintages then it can become a single vineyard bottling. Jose Luis sees this process as part of his work to recognize and record the current history being formed of winegrowing in Monterrei. Each vineyard planted serves as part of the larger story of this region. Here he stands in an alluvial soil vineyard in the valley of Monterrei that he has more recently been getting to know. #spain #galicia #wine @erindrain

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Mar 14, 2018 at 1:46am PDT

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Willamette Valley in February and March

I just finished a two and a half week stint in Willamette Valley working on six different projects. Among these was adding more layers of detail to my knowledge of the region and its subzones by doing a full day in each of the six nested AVAs – McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills, Ribbon Ridge, Chehalem Mountains, Eola-Amity Hills – within the larger Willamette Valley.

For each of the six AVA days I asked a different person with a long-standing background in that AVA, and a community focused perspective on it to organize what they saw as an insightful day of looking at maps, driving the region, meeting with growers and producers, and tasting. It added up to an intensive two weeks, and I’m super grateful for the time people put in.

I also spent time again with Pedro Parra. Raj Parr and I spent time with Pedro in Concepcion, Chile getting to know Itata and Bio Bio and its wines back in December. During that trip we discussed spending a day together in Oregon when we had the chance to overlap there. It was also an opportunity for me to continue understanding the work he does and better understand his views of a specific region, in this case Willamette Valley, as a result. In Chile I met with a number of producers that he has previously or is currently working with so I have been keen to continue getting to know his perspective.

During the rest of my trip I attended the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration, led a seminar for Brooks University – a wine education program for Brooks wines – was interviewed by the Oregon Wine History Archive, did research for leading the IPNC Grand Seminar this summer, and did a few follow up visits with producers as well. Here’s a look at the trip via the compiled Instagram images posted while I was there.

Dai Crisp discussing the unique growing conditions of light and wind that move through the Temperance Hill vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills with my daughter Rachel. A daily wind blows from the west through this site during the growing season. It is the cooling effect of the Pacific Ocean coming through the Van Duzer corridor, a low spot in the Coastal Range, that thickens skins and helps retain acidity in the wines. Today though, long before the start of the growing season, the wind blows down from Alaska in the North bringing with it freezing temperatures and overnight snow. Temperance Hill is one of two vineyards featured in this year’s IPNC Grand Seminar. It is one of the region’s iconic sites. #willamettevalleywine @lumoswine @dai_crisp @ipnc_pinot @buteo_jamaicensis_jr I spend my life with legends. Such an honor to share them with my daughter.

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Feb 22, 2018 at 1:02pm PST

After falling in love with the Dundee Hills, and getting to know the Worden Hill Rd area through a friendship with the Maresh family who were among the first to plant in the area, Steven Whiteside began planting Bella Vida vineyard in the late 1990s. The dramatic steep slopes of the vineyard make it one of the distinctive site’s of the region focused primarily on Pinot Noir. Steve has developed his farming of the site partially through friendships with long-standing farming families in the area and partially through working with some of the region’s most respected viticulturists. Bella Vida vineyard is one of two sites featured in this summer’s IPNC Grand Seminar. #willamettevalleywine @bella_vida_vineyard @ipnc_pinot

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Feb 23, 2018 at 8:40pm PST

Before contemporary agricultural crops, including vineyards, entered the Willamette Valley the local habitat included a predominance of white oak and white oak savannah. The native species are thoroughly adapted to the unique growing conditions of the region from soil pH, to climate, and as a result also foster a wealth of other native species thus promoting overall biodiversity of a place. As agriculture and viticulture have expanded, the white oak, their accompanying savannah, and their associated diversity of native mushrooms, broad grasses, wildflowers, and insect populations have radically decreased. A group of farmers through the region are working to preserve the remaining white oak habitats and increase them as well. At Carabella Vineyards the team has re-established acres of white oak savannah on the property, and also introduced it into the vineyard by creating alternate no-till rows. As the white oak savannah has taken hold in the vineyard they have seen an accompanying increase in native wildflowers, beneficial fungi, and beneficial insects as well, thus improving the overall health of the vineyard. Here the savannah plants are dormant but the Roemers Fescue broad grass species at the heart of the white oak savannah complex can be seen growing between the vine rows. #willamettevalleywine @carabellavineyard @drewbarelymore

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on Feb 26, 2018 at 6:19pm PST

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