Wine Writer Confidential | № 1

Dear Readers:

L.M.Archer ©2017 Alisha+Brook Photographers.

Welcome to Wine Writer Confidential, where I spill, thrill and chill you with all the news unfit to print about my world of wine writing.

Yes, the title pays homage to Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” (2000, Bloomsbury Publishing). But here all similarities end, except the spirit of unpretentiousness. And unpredictability. Because I honestly don’t know how often I’ll be posting this series, nor where it will take us. But I do know that we’ll be taking the ride together.

As a highly reserved person by nature, you can be sure that I’ll be  kicking and screaming in the background throughout. However, in a world incessantly competing for our attention,  I feel we all need this place – a refuge where we can all decompress, peruse, and leave the site thinking, “Hey, life’s not so bad after all.”

Indeed. Not while we have wine to share, the redThread™ that binds us all.

Cheers~

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Some highlights from the past few weeks:

February 21-24 2017: Professional Wine Writers Symposium Meadowood Napa Valley

Held at luxury resort Meadowood Napa Valley, this attendance-by-invitation only allows wine writers worldwide the opportunity to meet with peers and premier industry editors, publishers, and writers for three days of well-paced seminars, wine tasting, and gourmet fare.

As one of the fortunate attending fellows, I appreciated the themed program schedule (“Arrival and Recharge”,”Craft of Writing,” “Career Advancement,” “Wine Knowledge), as well as the intimate-yet-utterly-universal-in-tone keynote by legendary Kevin Zraly, creator and author of “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course.” The man survived 9/11, lost a number of his co-workers, not to mention the restaurant he’d worked at most of his adult life – and still continues to inspire others. My personal takeaway? Life involves ‘resiliency,’ ‘perspective,’ and ‘chutzpah.’ The general takeaway?  Life goes on – with a little help from friends, family  – and wine.

The general symposium theme “Wine Writing Goes Digital” proved both provocative and bemusing, given the conference allowance for brief, 15-minute ‘digital breaks” throughout – enough time to check social media, but not enough time to get sucked into its vortex. A win-win situation all around.

Most of all, I treasure the friendships, mentors, and professional connections established in such a magical setting.

Many thanks to Julia Allenby and team Wine Writers Symposium 2017, Meadowood Napa Valley, The Culinary Institute at Greystone and Copia, and Napa Valley Vintners for their graciousness and hospitality.

March 13 2017: Made in New Zealand Trade Tasting | Gallery 308 –  Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

The best part about living in Northern California is proximity to San Francisco’s vibrant wine industry events. And as a student of Burgundy, the recent “Made in New Zealand” trade tasting held at Gallery 308 in Fort Mason Center (with gobsmackingly gorgeous views of the marina and Golden Gate Bridge) expanded my understanding of terroir – and my palate.

Organized by island, north to south, standouts include a sparkling wine by huiavineyards.com giving Champagne a run for its money, a ‘wild-ferment’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014 by Greywacke.com of unusual nuance, and nervy Marlborough winery hillersden.com,  a family willing to literally going out on ridge to make their wines.

As always, great to taste through my usual suspects villamaria.co.nz and mtbeautiful.co.nz.here’s a previous profile of Mt. Beautiful winemaker Sam Weaver, who also makes his own label.

You’ll hear more from me about New Zealand’s enervating, envelope-pushing, culturally respectful approach to wine making in future posts.

Thanks to David Strada and New Zealand Wine for hosting.

BKWine Magazine | Artisan Winemaker Don Hagge of Vidon Vineyard, Oregon

Dear Readers:

FYI:

 Paris-based BKWine Magazine now features my interview with artisan wine maker and former NASA rocket scientist Don Hagge of Vidon Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Read the full article here.

Read the full article in Swedish here.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes | redThread™. All Rights Reserved.

redThread™ Taste Maker Exclusive: Mardi Gras in NOLA | A Conversation with Amy C. Collins of Pig & Vine

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

by L.M. Archer FWS, Bourgogne ML

Today’s Taste Maker Exclusive:

Mardi Gras in NOLA: A Conversation with Amy C. Collins of Pig & Vine

Amy C. Collins of Pig & Vine first caught my attention at WBC16. As a fellow presenter, she blew the rest of us away with her brilliantly hysterical, self-deprecating, seemingly effortless and extemporaneous presentation about her path to wine writing.

Mind you, she had mildly mentioned the fact that she was presenting only a day or two earlier at another event we’d both attended at M2 Wines. Mentioned, but did not elaborate. No elaboration needed. Once she hit the stage, she owned it.

As a wine writer based in New Orleans, I thought it only fitting to invite her to strut her stuff here on Mardi Gras. Enjoy – and feel free to leave your thoughts below~cheers!

r/T™:  Not many people can claim their path to wine started in Blowing Rock, NC. Any favorite memories from that time and place as you discovered your interest in wine? 

ACC: Those were the college years when everything was possible and we had our whole lives ahead of us. My favorite memory might be the feeling that I could do and be anything. Sadly, I have no memory of specific wines.

r/T™:  Any favorite wine makers, wine regions, and or memorable wines that stand out, and/or inspired you to keep going?

ACC:  There have certainly been standouts over the years, wines that have made me swoon, winemakers who’ve thrown a good party, and pretty much every region I’ve visited makes me want to go back, but also seek out others. I guess a general curiosity and pleasure as guiding principals have kept me going.

r/T™:  It seems that ‘thirst’ for wine also led you to some important mentors along the way. After college, you moved to NYC, where you eventually ended up working for Daniel Johnnes, renown Burgundy expert and mastermind behind Le Paulée NYC/SF. How did that happen? Anything you learned from him that still resonates today? Any favorite memories from time in the trenches with him?

ACC:  After 9/11 I went to work waiting tables at Blue Ribbon Bakery in the West Village. The general structure there was that you worked three doubles a week and had four days off, so with all that free time I decided to pursue the WSET Diploma. I was very fortunate to have some amazing women in my class and study group (four of them are now MWs). When I casually mentioned one day I was thinking about getting a job selling wine, they eagerly set me up with interviews. I believe it was Mark Lauber who referred me to Daniel because he’d just hired a couple of reps at Lauber Imports. I guess Daniel liked me, because when I declined his offer to take a job at Wildman instead, he called to ask me to reconsider working with him. I was flattered and said yes. 

Daniel and his then sales manager, now proprietor of his own accomplished distribution/importation company David Bowler, taught me the who’s who of upper echelon French and German producers. I was part of the team for two NYC La Paulées, though not much help I’m afraid. More decoration and punch lines than in the trenches on that one. But I got to taste incredible Burgundies with decades of age. It was mind-blowing.  I met New York’s top somms and buyers at that time, many of whom later became my customers and friends.

So much happened in the year I worked for Daniel it’s near impossible to whittle down to a single highlight or two. Though I suppose tasting 1985 Chave with Jean-Louis, Allain Graillot and the late Didier Dagenau in Chave’s cellar was pretty epic. Of course not one of them would remember me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

r/T™:  Talk about your path to wine writing in general, and http://www.pigandvine.com in particular – how did you end up leaving NYC for first Alabama, and now NOLA? Any culture shocks that stand out?

ACC:  Actually I left NYC for Buenos Aires, Argentina, then landed in Alabama. Culture shock? Yes, all of it! The first step was to move away from sales and New York. I felt that I wasn’t creating anything, just making money. I wouldn’t mind having some of that money again, but that’s another conversation. Argentina was an unwinding period for me and a welcome change, but after a year I was ready to go stateside. I’d sold all my belongings except for what I could fit into two suitcases, and didn’t have a job or apartment in New York. More important, I didn’t want to go back to New York, so I went to my mother’s in Florence, Alabama. I figured I’d take a couple of months to collect myself, then move west to Austin, Texas, or Portland, Oregon. Then she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. She said, “You’ve been talking about being a writer for 16 years, why don’t you just stay here and write?” I lived with her, cooked our meals, did the shopping, planted a garden, made some art, read a ton, and learned how to write. Before long people started paying me to write.

I started Pig&Vine in 2012 as a food and wine blog, posting daily, cooking and writing recipes, constantly. I made it my job and was determined to make it pay financially, which I now find amusing. The blog has gone through some transformations over the years, and it’s going through another right now, which is very exciting.

r/T™:  Talk about your foray into radio on Pig & Vine  – least/most favorite thing(s) you like about doing radio vs. writing? Anything you’ve learned that surprises you? Any ‘dream’ guest you’d like to have on the show?

ACC:  The Radio element is a podcast, sort of a sister project to Pig&Vine where I can integrate my love of real conversation. Drinking wine is also a priority activity so marrying the two was a no brainer. Pig&Vine Radio is a way for me to explore subjects other than wine, like music, art, science, and how to be human, while drinking wine. I was surprised to learn that I have a natural NPR voice, or so I’ve been told. Radio is much easier than writing. In conversation, you can stumble over words and convey meaning and context with tone and delivery, especially when there’s someone on the other microphone responding in real time.

Favorite guests? Gosh, I’ll dream big and say Patti Smith, Mary Karr, Lena Dunham would be a trip…I’d like to ask Warren Buffet about balancing humanness with profit margin. But not one of those people drink alcohol, so I’ll have to figure out a loop-hole when they come calling.

r/T™:  As an admitted INTJ, “heavy on the J”,  would you say your career has been less analytical chess game, and more organic improv? How does ‘constructive cruelty’ inform your blog?

ACC:  Definitely more organic improv, gut-feeling. I’ve never had a five-year plan. But I’m also very thoughtful and deliberate about the decisions I make. Some might say I over-think the options.

Constructive cruelty was a group formed by some fellow bloggers I met at the Bloggers Conference last summer to give each other feedback on our respective blogs. I am very open to constructive criticism and they had great perspective and good suggestions. You cannot evolve as a human if you’re not willing to listen. The last thing I want to become is a fascist over my tiny insignificant corner of the web.

r/T™:  Besides Woody Allen, any other inspirations for the incisive humor that runs through your work? 

ACC:  Woody Allen is an influence more because I over-think and worry the way his characters do, and that amuses me. And my mother. She loves to give me a hard time about it. I don’t know what inspires my humor. The absurdity of life, I guess. We humans really are a ridiculous lot.

r/T™:  Besides Pig and Vine,  where can folks find your work?

ACC:  Well, I do have a “professional” writer site, amyccollins.com, and occasionally I remember to update the blog with new work. I write most of the stories for fashion designer Billy Reid’s blog, The Journal. That gig has allowed me to interview a lot of cool folks, which has certainly helped to hone my skills for the podcast. I have a few pending projects for publications I admire, but I don’t want to list them until the pieces are actually published.

r/T™:  Anything else you’d care to share with readers that we haven’t touched on?

ACC:  Yes, please subscribe to the www.pigandvine.com newsletter for regular updates on new posts and new podcast episodes. Then download Pig&Vine Radio from iTunes and leave a glowing review.

r/T™:  Finally, if your experience as a wine writer has taught you anything, it’s taught you…?

ACC:  That it’s incredibly difficult to be relevant and interesting. There’s nothing new to say about wine, so the magic has to be in the saying. Crossing the divide between non-wine people and wine people is even harder, and the risk of talking into an echo chamber is real. Since hosting a podcast has helped me to stop cringing at the sound of my own voice, I worry the melodious reverb will be my eventual demise.

All images provided and reprinted by permission of Amy C. Collins.

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.

Guest Wine Writer Series | № 11 | Susannah Gold | Falling in Love with The Douro

Guest Wine Writer Series | № 11 | Susannah Gold | Falling in Love with The Douro

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about wine and taste makers.

By L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Continuing the Guest Wine Writer series I initiated in 2016, I’ve invited some of my fellow wine writers the opportunity to join me here on binNotes | red Thread™  each first Friday of every other month throughout  2017 to shine a light on a rare, obscure, or under-appreciated wine region for which they feel a special passion.

About Today’s  Guest Wine Writer:

I met Susannah Gold ‘virtually’ some years ago when I discovered her wine blog www.avinnare.com, where her enthusiasm for and expertise in Italian wine, people and culture proves a charismatic counterpoint to my ongoing, intellectually intense Francophilia.

When Susannah reached out to me last year about guest writing a piece on the Douro, a region outside her usual Italian ‘hood, I replied ‘subito!’ Please enjoy her ‘love at first sight’ account of Portugal’s seductive Douro Valley.

Guest Wine Writer Series | № 11 | Susannah Gold 

Falling In Love With The Douro Valley

by Susannah Gold

People say you never forget your first love. In terms of countries, Italy and France have always been on the top of my list,  but this past September I was again struck with that feeling. I had met a new love, the Douro Valley in Portugal. While not my first trip to Portugal, it was [my first] to the Douro, which made me believe you can really fall in love again at any age. I know I have with the Douro Valley.

What attracted me so to the region? Firstly, the striking landscapes, with terraced vineyards everywhere made of schist and granite. Named a Unesco world heritage site in 2001, the region is simply stunning. Secondly, it has a lot of history. In 1756, the Marquês of Pombal demarcated the Douro Valley, the first [wine] region in the world to be so designated. Producers showed us the stones from that demarcation.

Thirdly, it is an amazing place to visit for wine tourism, where there are small and big wineries happy to host you, allow you to taste their wines, and in many cases, participate in harvesting.  The Douro is a feast for the senses: the sound of the river everywhere you go, the beauty of the hills, the delicious foods and wines, the lagares – old-fashioned stone tanks that are still used to crush grapes give texture to your trip,  and more than anything else, the people.

Portugal was under strict authoritarian rule for much of the 20th century that left many areas of the country in a state of despair and many of the people grey. No longer. Portugal today is a much different place, filled with verve, excitement, and brimming with innovation.

People can’t wait to talk to you about their country. Still, there are many traditions that it holds dear as well. The combination of new and exciting projects with century old traditions is really what stuck with me, and made me yearn to discover the region even further.

Like many people, I always associated the Douro Valley only with stodgy English run Port wines houses, not with individual producers or still wines. Clearly, I didn’t know enough about the region. I attended a seminar last summer where they showed a film of the boat regatta in Porto. I love to sail, so the combination of the boat race plus the Port houses made me both salivate and want to visit immediately.

I wanted to see Porto and taste those gorgeous wines. I was not at all disappointed, and I think you won’t be either  – although hurry to get there soon. Travel and Leisure named Portugal one of its “top destinations” for travel this year.

Most still wines produced are blends made from the traditional port wine red varieties such as Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and white grapes Rabigato, Viosinho, Moscatel Galego and Malvasia Fina, among others. Few are making mono-varietal wines except from Touriga Nacional, which they are trying to make into their signature red grape variety, much as Carmenère has become to Chile, Malbec to Argentina, and Tannat to Uruguay. 

The Portuguese have significantly lowered their drinking per capita, as have most other European nations, and thus in order to sell their products, they must look abroad, which is great for us in the USA, because it means that more of their products will make it to our shores. At least I hope so.  I am excited to have access to more Portuguese wines and can’t wait for my next trip to the Douro.

susannah-gold-september-2013

About the Author:

Susannah Gold, one of a few non-Italians included in the esteemed Associazione Italiana dei Sommeliers (AIS), writes for The Financial Times, Gourmet Retailer, Food, Food & Beverage Business, Snooth.com, the Organic Wine Journal, the Sommelier Journal and GDO Week. A recognized authority on Italian wines, Susannah also pens her own international-focused wine blog, www.Avvinare.com

Susannah’s prolific wine career spans over two decades, and includes work with some of the industry’s biggest consortium, institutions, importers, producers, and retailers, most notably as representative twice to the Prosecco DOC consortium on the Vinitaly US Tour.  Her numerous designations include a Diploma in Wines & Spirits (DWS) from the WSET, as well as CSW and CSS credentials from the Society of Wine Educators.

Story and images printed by permission of the author, Susannah Gold. 

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.

The Hedonistic Taster | № 13 | Vidon Vineyard

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 13 | Vidon Vineyard 

Chehalem Mountains AVA | Willamette Valley, OR.

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

“Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.” – Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster, a binNotes | redThread™ trade sampling of gorgeous, small-lot artisan pours in an intimate tasting format.

The title derives from the term ‘hedonistic tasting,’ coined by legendary Burgundian vigneron Henri Jayer. Santé!

Today’s Tasting:

Vidon Vineyard | Chehalem Mountains AVA  | Willamette Valley, OR.

vidonlogo

“A petite vineyard with a boutique winery.”

Ok, wine astronauts, buckle up and prepare for takeoff as we taste through samples of Vidon Vineyard 100% estate-grown Oregon Pinot Noir – including a 2012-2014 vertical sampler of 3-Clone cuvées and a special series of 2014 single-clone offerings – all crafted by former NASA astrophysicist-turned-artisan wine maker Don Hagge.

These small-lot wines reflect the owner – easy-going, unpretentious and approachable.

View my exclusive interview with Vidon Vineyard owner and rocket-scientist-turned-artisan wine maker Don Hagge here.

14_VidonMirabelleClone115PinotNoir

Wine: VIDON Vineyard  Mirabelle Clone 115  Estate Oregon Pinot Noir 

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 14.3 %

Suggested Retail: $50

Production: 100 cases.

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Obscure ruby robe.

Nose:  Linear red fruit, predominately red raspberry.

Palate: Red raspberry, briary, sous bois notes. Light body, medium acid, minimal tannins/finish.

Suggested Pairings: Perfect, agreeable grab-and-go for game night at the neighbors over lip-smacking finger foods.

 

14_VidonBrigitaClone777PinotNoir

Wine: VIDON Vineyard Brigita Clone 777 Estate Oregon Pinot Noir 

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 14.3%

Suggested Retail: $50

Production: 125 cases.

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Clouded garnet robe.

Nose:  Rainier cherry, pomegranate, cranberry nose.

Palate: Hard red cherry candy, black pepper, bramble, sous bois notes. Light body, medium acids, minimal tannins.

Suggested Pairings: Easy-breezy accompaniment to wild rice and cranberry stuffed game, or seared tuna with pomegranate coulis.

14_VidonHansClonePinotNoir

Wine: VIDON Vineyard Hans Clone Pommard Estate Oregon Pinot Noir 

Vintage: 2014 

Alcohol: 14.3%

Suggested Retail: $50

Production: 148 cases.

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Roiled, fuscia-tinged raspberry robe.

Nose:  Hi-toned red fruit, barnyard, noisette finish.

Palate: Red fruits, hazelnut, pepper finish. Light body, medium acids, light tannins/finish.

Although a Pinot Noir,  this wine evokes a Cru Beaujolais from Fleurie or Régnié.

Suggested Pairings: Sidle this little number up to some hazelnut-crusted ahi.

14_Vidon3ClonePinotNoir

Wine: 2014 VIDON Vineyard 3 Clones Estate Oregon Pinot Noir 

Alcohol:  14.3%

Suggested Retail: $40

Production: 710 cases.

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Sheer ruby robe.

Nose: Pomegranate, earth, umami back note.

Palate: Bing cherry, red vine licorice, ripe raspberry. Acid plus, medium tannin, raspish finish.

A note about the harvest: Wine wags deem the 2014 Willamette Valley harvest “the vintage of a lifetime,” owing to an unblemished growing season from bud break through harvest,  producing record-breaking quality fruit of exceptional balance.

Suggested Pairings: Bring on the ‘fifth flavor’! This wine pairs well with similar, umami-rich dishes such as a leek and cèpes tart, or stuffed portobello mushrooms.

vidon_pn_nv

Wine: 2013 VIDON Vineyard 3 Clones Estate Oregon Pinot Noir 

Alcohol:  14.3%

Suggested Retail:  $40

Production: 480 cases.

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Pellucid ruby robe; slight effervescence that dissipates with decanting.

Nose:  Peat, cherry; slight sulfur notes evaporate with airing.

Palate: Modelo cherry,  rose hip, white pepper bouche.  

A note about the harvest: This wine provides an unabashed portrait of a warm start out of the gate that turned difficult to choreograph at harvest as the rains first threatened, then arrived without mercy. A third of the wine growers chose to harvest early before the rains, another third harvested on schedule in the rain, and the final third harvested in October, which meant the potential for rot.

Vidon Vineyard opted for the former – to harvest before the rains. Welcome to the Willamette Valley.

Suggested Pairings: A conversation starter over just-baked gougères.

vidon_pn_nv

Wine: 2012 VIDON Vineyard 3 Clones Estate Oregon Pinot Noir

Alcohol:  15%

Suggested Retail: $40

Production: 530 cases.

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Deep garnet robe.

Nose:  Spice, cranberry, mushroom.

Palate: Linear red fruit and earth bouche, light body, acids plus, medium tannins, minimal finish.

A note about the harvest: Willamette Valley’s 2012 vintage proved one of the most glorious on record, unfurling warm days, cool nights, even ripening, and well-balanced acids and tannins.

Suggested Pairings: Reminiscent of a straightforward, spicy Bourgogne Passe Tout Grains. Pair with a daube, saucisson or equally rustic fare.

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Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.

Wine Industry InsightNews Fetch | Wine People – Don Hagge

Wine Industry InsightNews Fetch |  Wine People – Don Hagge

Dear Readers:

WII_New_Masthead_6_Full

I’m so honored to be included in Wine Industry Insight’s January 12th 2017 News Fetch ‘Wine People,’ featuring my Conversation with Don Hagge of Vidon Vineyards of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.

red Thread™ Exclusive: A Conversation with Don Hagge of Vidon Vineyard | Willamette Valley, OR.

red Thread™ Exclusive:  A Conversation with Don Hagge of Vidon Vineyard | Willamette Valley, OR.

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about wine and taste makers.

By L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Today’s Exclusive Interview:

A Conversation with Artisan Winemaker Don Hagge of Vidon Vineyard  | Willamette Valley, OR.

“A Petite Vineyard with a Boutique Winery”

Ever hear that phrase,  “Who do you think you are, a rocket scientist?”

Well, today’s guest IS a rocket scientist. One part humble midwestern farm boy, one part retired NASA astrophysicist-turned-winemaker, Don Hagge of Vidon (Vee-dohn) Vineyard talks softly and drives a big tractor. And at age 85, instead of slowing down, Don shoots for the moon – including a recent new release of his estate wines based upon NASA’s iconic space program, as well as implementation of a proprietary argon wine preservation tap system in his tasting room.

Recently, I caught up with Don to chat about life on his petite vineyard and boutique winery in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountain AVA.

r/T™:  You’ve been described as a physicist, farmer, winemaker and innovator. What aspect(s) of your role as physicist helped prepare for your current role as farmer/winemaker? What motivates you to take the road less travelled as an innovator?

DH:  Since I grew up on a farm, the vineyard side is pretty much hard-wired.  The scientific approach and methodology, ingrained as an experimental physicist, is helpful in the winemaking process.

While I’m not UC Davis trained, I don’t think it’s hurt me as a winemaker. I do things differently – I think I’m more systematic and organized. I’m always trying to understand what’s going on and why.  

r/T™:  You arrived to winemaking at an age most people are ‘retiring.’ In your physics career, Ernest Lawrence figures prominently as a mentor, both academically and professionally. Any such figures in winemaking that have helped/inspired you?

DH:  
Laurent Montalieu of Northwest Wines is the first winemaker I worked with, but many wine makers in the local community have been inspirational.

I think the land really inspires me. I fell in love with the land while doing tech work in Oregon, riding my bike through the Willamette Valley on weekends.

I would stop to taste wines from the area, and ended up talking to a lot of local wine makers like Lynn Penner-Ash, who was at Rex Hill at the time. I really liked Rex Hill wines, and found out that they got some of their fruit from Jacob-Hart Vineyard on Chehalem Ridge.  So when I was thinking of buying this land [on Chehalem Moutains AVA], I told Lynn – she got really excited, and even asked me to keep her in mind if I ever had fruit to sell, because she was just about to start out on her own.

r/T™:  Talk about the innovations you’ve made as an artisan winemaker, such as implementing your own glass stopper bottling machine – anything else you’ve ‘tinkered with’ to improve production? Do your colleagues ever come to you for help with their stuff? 

DH:  My approach to winemaking is to constantly search for ways to improve efficiency in making the best possible wine from available grapes.  [For example,] Argon is used for oxygen management; [which is] superior to Nitrogen. 

Occasionally I get questions from winemaker friends about how and why I do certain things. They don’t always agree with me, but that doesn’t prevent me from trying it anyway.  If you haven’t made any mistakes in life, you haven’t done much. 

r/T™:  You purchased the land for what is now Vidon Vineyards in 1999, and built your home there in 2003. In 2014, Vidon Vineyard became 100% estate-grown fruit. You’ve invested not just toil, but time and treasure ensuring LIVE and Salmon-Safe certification. Talk about what sustained you during this painstaking route towards sustainability and self-sufficiency? It’s quite a commitment.

DH:  
The goal was always to make great wine from this land I purchased.  This required continuous learning and improvement in both the viticulture and winemaking aspects.  Although I now get a lot of satisfaction from sipping my wines, I know they could be better.

r/T™:  Your vineyard boasts three soil types (Jory, Nekia and Willakenzie), southern exposures, and elevations ~400-500 ft. You’ve planted your 12.5 acres accordingly, with seven different varietals, including not just Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir (Pommard, 115, & 777), but also Syrah, Tempranillo, and Viognier.

How do you approach blending and bottling to yield the flavor profiles you seek in the finished wine, with so many flavor profiles at play?

DH:  Since all my Pinot Noir blocks are on Jory soil, the differences for each vintage is only because of the clones.  My 3-Clones is a blend of 1/3 each of the single clones +/- 5% with 11 months in French oak.  My Single Clones are not blended and are aged 18 months in oak.  I don’t blend the other varieties except for co-fermenting 3-5% Viognier with Syrah.

r/T™:  As a farmer/physicist, what about each of these varietals alternately excites/frustrates you?

DH:  Pinot Noir is a finicky grape  and it’s difficult to keep the alcohol below 14% without watering – which I don’t do.

Even though Pinot Noir is suppose to be finicky, I think I’ve been pretty lucky, because since I started growing it, I’ve never really had a ‘bad’ year working with it. I’ve never found it to be a whole lot different from other varietals. I don’t do anything differently with it.

The main thing is to be meticulous and be clean, and to keep the oxygen out – I am adamant about that. And go back to the vineyard – if you make sure you have micronutrients in the soil, if you treat your soils right, then you won’t have problems inside with fermentation, etc.

r/T™:  You enjoy the good fortune of enlisting Adelsheim’s Chad Vargas to handle the vineyard labor and spraying, while you ride tractor for mowing and tilling. Can you tell readers a bit about that dynamic?

DH:   David Adelsheim a neighbor and a good friend. When I started my vineyard, Chad Vargas offered to work with me because they bring in contract crews, so he started handling the labor part. Now they spray, till and mow for me, too. This year Chad is starting his own company, and he’ll continue to manage the vineyard and provide his services. I still like to drive the tractor in spring, though. 

Oregon will always have many small vineyards and wineries which is what makes it neighborly.  We need and depend on each other in several ways.  We work together to create great Oregon wines that are competitive in the larger market.

r/T™:  What’s next on your agenda for Vidon Vineyard? Do you ever foresee increasing your current ~2000 case yearly production levels?

DH:  Not above what the vineyard will produce which is between 2000 and 2500 cases.  Estate planning at my age is next!

r/T™:  What excites you most about your wine?

DH:  I can tell you about my own experience – a very specific one. In 2004, I was at lunch with a friend in Palo Alto, sipping a wine of mine that the restaurant carried, and tasting it brought me back to Burgundy – a bit lighter, a bit of barnyard.

I really love France – I really liked it while I was there [while doing post-graduate research]. I will never forget that feeling drinking that 2004 wine of mine – taking me back to a place I love. It was just really special.

r/T™:  Anything else you’d care to share with readers about Vidon Vineyard?

DH:  It has been a great journey!  We started with a piece of land covered with stumps, rocks, scrub trees, poison oak and blackberries and turned it into a Boutique Winery on a Petite Vineyard that produces great wines.

r/T™:  Finally, if your experience as a vineyard owner and winemaker has taught you anything, it’s taught you…?

DH: Care for the land and it’ll yield good fruit from which great wine can be made!

For more information:

Vidon Vineyard

(503)538-4092

17425 NE Hillside Drive • Newberg, Oregon 97132

Thank you:

Don Hagge

Carl Giavanti

Images:  ©Paul Cunningham Photography.

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