Oregon Pinot Camp: adventures from a wine enthusiast (part 2)
Posted by Nikki Erpelding, wines and spirits manager at Byerly’s St. Louis Park
Monday, September 9, 2013
Oregon Pinot Camp Part 1
Let’s dig into more of the expertise I came away with at the Oregon Pinot Camp!
Day one we got on our bus and headed to breakfast at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. What a place! I highly recommend you add this to your visit if you’re ever in Oregon.
The next two days were a whirlwind of wine knowledge! We attended six workshops in that time, all centered around the passion, education and science of wine making. Here’s a short recap of what I learned from each workshop:
The Oregon Pinot story
This workshop was presented by Pat Dudley of Bethel Heights Vineyard and Alex Sokol Blosser of Sokol Blosser Winery. We learned about the place and the history of Oregon, the cool climate and diversity of viticulture (the cultivation or culture of grapes for wine making) within the Willamette Valley. They spoke about Oregon wine milestones, which focus on the timeline of winery openings, competitions, the first Wine Spectator cover that touted Oregon wines, etc. I went away appreciating that all the wineries there were such a tight knit family that shared their thoughts and experiences on wine making with each other. Wow!
Oregon Pinot Noir - winemaking deconstructed
This was quite the experience. It was hosted at Lemelson Vineyards who spared no expense to create this winery! It’s a gravity-fed winery, which means four things. First, the winery uses rigorous fruit selection for quality. Second, they practice gentle handling at every stage of the process to ensure the berries are opened to release the juices, not crushed, which can introduce the seeds to the mix and create a harsh taste. Third, both small and medium-size stainless fermentation vessels allow each vineyard block to be fermented separately. Finally, the facility uses gravity to move wine under very low pressure from level to level, rather than pumps, which can diminish aroma and flavor.
Soil into wine - digging deeper into Pinot Noir
Why is soil so special? Soil is an important component of terroir (characteristics of the land that affect the plants). The traditional definition of a superior Pinot Noir is one that expresses the uniqueness of the soil where the grapes were grown. During htis seminar, we were able see two distinct soil types from two sites: volcanic and sedimentary. It’s rare for a vineyard to have two different soil types. We tasted the wines and were able to clearly identify how those soil types affect the finished wine.
Farming for quality - growing great Pinot Noir
We were at Elk Cove Vineyards for this seminar. We toured the vineyard and were able to see what the vineyard had to offer. We learned about acceptable climatic conditions, which really revolve around global warming or climate change and how it is affecting grape growing. We also learned about clonal selection, which involves picking the right clone of Pinot Noir for the appropriate site. So much passion was relayed to us; these vineyards clearly mean more than just a job or hobby to these vintners.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of my trip!