The Willamette Valley is a wine region in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is the largest viticultural region in Oregon, covering more than 37,000 acres (15,000 ha) in the Willamette Valley, where the Columbia, Santiam, McKenzie and Molalla Rivers flow through the valley, which is about 100 miles (160 km) long and 12 to 15 miles (19 km) wide.
You’ve heard of the superfood açai berries, but not about grapes? They’re both fruits of the berry family. So what’s the difference? According to the FDA, açai berries are a tropical fruit that’s native to the rainforest of Brazil and is named for a Brazilian Tupi word meaning “everlasting.”
In our modern society, we often take for granted the benefits of technology and our inorganic growing practices. But the reality is that we are at the very beginning of what is possible with this technology. Much of our current technology in the field of farming is still in development and experimentation.. Read more about hope well and let us know what you think.
Although wine grape-growing is a kind of farming, an increasing number of wineries are adopting a more comprehensive, holistic approach to winemaking that includes winemaking as part of a larger, farm-oriented lifestyle. These five Oregon vineyard farms demonstrate that there are as many routes to success as there are vintners willing to take them.
Big Table Farm is a family-owned and operated farm in
In the 15 years that Clare Carver and Brian Marcy have owned and operated Big Table Farm, they confess to having “made a lot of errors.” But there’s a huge side of pleasure with that confession.
With a smile, Carver adds, “The huge, messy, naive experimenting is behind us.” “We’ve worked hard for our stripes. We’re operating from a solid foundation of knowledge. So there will be no more rookie errors that are harmful to the earth, animals, and humans.”
Taking care of cattle, chickens, goats, draft horses, pigs, lambs, beehives, and guard dogs is a lot of labor. There was also the multiyear job of constructing a barn and winery, as well as the yearly planting of vegetable gardens, composting, and clearing hillside land for an estate vineyard. It’s easy to assume that these two are tapped out.
That’s not even close.
Pedro Oliveria photographed Brian and Marcy Carver inside their barn.
Carver is a successful artist with a successful studio. She creates the hand-drawn and letterpress printed labels for the vineyard. Marcy is now fencing, planning, and planting the estate’s first vineyard. The apparently simple job of removing trees and underbrush has become a chance to learn, develop, and discover a more eco-friendly approach, as it has been with everything they do.
“We haven’t done a brush fire in 15 years because we are carbon sensitive,” Carver adds, alluding to the notion that a burn would pollute the environment even more. So, what to do with the 13-acre hillside’s brush piles?
They contacted Blackwood Solutions, which use a Carbonator to turn the brush into biochar through a low-oxygen, high-temperature fire that emits no carbon into the atmosphere. The only thing that’s left is charcoal, which goes into the compost pile.
Marcy explains, “Everything we’ve done in the past is influencing what we’re going to do tomorrow.” “We’re learning about dirt, how active it is, and a whole other side of life that fascinates me. Animals’ contribution to global health, as well as the microorganisms they move about in their intestines. Ruminants are essentially walking fermentation containers. Nothing else can turn cellulose into protein and fat as they do.”
Big Table Farm 2019 is a wine to try. $30, 91 points, The Wild Bee Chardonnay (Willamette Valley). With the alcohol content down to the low 12% level, it’s safe to anticipate that this will be a rather acidic wine. That it is, but it also has subtle flavors of lemon zest, green pineapple, green banana, and a touch of peanut butter in the end, in addition to the snappy, lemony acidity. The wine was mainly fermented in neutral French oak barrels.
Environmentalism that is zealous and unwavering
Mineral Springs Ranch is a ranch in Mineral Springs, Colorado.
Michelle Soter, Tony Soter’s late wife, inspired and assisted in the creation of a farm and vineyard devoted to ecology, organics, biodynamics, nutrition, and holistic living, according to Tony Soter. He delved enthusiastically into the minutiae on an early spring walk around the 240-acre property.
He claims that wine adds value to grapes, an agricultural product. “So much of agriculture is driven by commodities,” adds Soter. “And if you want to be a successful little farmer, it doesn’t leave much profit.”
His goal is to motivate other small farmers to add value to their goods so that they may sell them directly to consumers. “What we aim for is the rebirth of small rural agriculture as a source of income and a means to reintroduce people to the land.”
“We don’t want to be huge winemakers.” ― Red Ridge Farm owner Paul Durant
Ranch Manager Nadine Basile is in charge of “anything that’s living on the property,” says Soter. Along with wine grapes, that includes vegetables, orchards, grains, bees, cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep (which tend the vineyard floor) and goats (which help manage forested areas).
The focus on the vineyard is on a scientific approach to biodynamic methods, which Soter credits to his time as a consultant in Napa.
He quips, “It was partly out of self-interest.” “In any given season, I consume more grapes than ten people combined. And I’d rather eat grapes that aren’t tainted with anything harmful. As a result of that dedication, my liver appreciates me.”
These methods increase the worth of the wine and enhance its quality. “Biodynamics’ brilliance foretold a greater knowledge of the biology of developing plants and ecosystems,” Soter adds. “How can we study what works and what doesn’t work in nature to help us accomplish our goals? As a result, the more we work together, the less we fight.”
A dining program, Provisions, encapsulates these goals. Visitors may enjoy a farm-to-table dinner of light meals matched with wines. Soter explains, “It’s not a profit center; it’s a demonstration center.” “And it’s so popular that the chef, sous chef, and dishwasher are all paid. Perfect.”
Try the Soter 2018 Estates Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) for $50 and 93 points. The Estates, a mix of vineyards on Ribbon Ridge and in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, is the newest of Soter’s four levels of Pinot Noir. The components of this young wine are all in place—bright raspberry fruit, a robust citrus taste that adds zest and acidity, and sharp definition through the finish—but it will need another year or two to fully integrate. It was matured in French oak that was 40% new. From 2023 forward, you’ll be able to drink.
Pedro Oliveria’s photo of Paul Durant
Red Ridge Farms’ Durant
Many wineries compete for Durant Vineyard grapes. Its name may be seen on hundreds of bottles from renowned Willamette Valley wineries. In addition, the estate winery produces approximately 5,000 cases of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and a beautiful rosé each year.
Marcus Goodfellow, Joe Dobbes, Isabelle Dutarte, and most recently, Spencer Spetnagel, who arrived from King Estate in 2018, are just a few of the outstanding winemakers who have worked with these estate grapes.
Despite the vineyard’s and wines’ success, owner and general manager Paul Durant is most enthusiastic about his extra-virgin olive oils.
In the early 1970s, his parents bought the house. They planted vines and started growing walnuts, cherries, and hazelnuts right away.
“They were strapped for cash, so they purchased inexpensive hillside soil that doesn’t yield well for row crops,” Durant explains. “As a result, it’s now the most sought-after land in the county, 40 years later. They’d won the lottery.”
A well-stocked gift store, tasting area, short-term accommodation, and a plant nursery are all part of the 135-acre site. This is in addition to the 17 acres of olive trees that have been planted since 2004. The initiative began with a desire to attempt something new (“it’s in the family DNA,” says Durant), but it is sustained by his unwavering passion.
“There are many different kinds of olive trees in the globe, but it takes a long time to truly find out how to cultivate them,” he adds. A variety of varietal oils, as well as many other homegrown and local goods, are available at the gift store.
As tourists return to the farm, a new Italian olive mill will be installed to replace the old one. Durant intends to double current output, which stands at 8,000 gallons per year.
Durant claims that olive oil kept the company afloat throughout the epidemic.
He adds, “This is exactly what I’ve always wanted to accomplish.” “We don’t want to be huge winemakers. Each year, 4,000 to 6,000 cases of wine are produced. That is all there is to it. The client relationship appeals to me.”
Durant 2019 Southview Pinot Gris (Dundee Hills); $25, 91 points. Wine to try: Durant 2019 Southview Pinot Gris (Dundee Hills); $25, 91 points. All stainless fermented and finished crisp and clear, this is a well-balanced, careful take on this varietal. Lovage, fennel, and cilantro dominate the aromas and tastes, with crisp pear fruit filling up the midpalate. It’s a light and airy style that’s free of barrel characteristics.
Pedro Oliveria photographed Stephen Hagen on his vineyard.
Viticulture based on grazing
Prepare for a doctorate thesis by asking Owner Stephen Hagen to clarify what he means by grazing-based viticulture. Animal husbandry, the insignificance of clones, and the development of upside-down grape clusters with mutant fruit are among the topics discussed.
According to Hagen, the goal of grazing-based viticulture is to elicit site-specific terroir from a given location.
He and his wife, Niki, started planting as soon as they bought the land in 1999. They cultivated organically from the beginning. “A light bulb went off in my brain while I was distributing organic amendments a few years later,” he adds. I was curious as to how individuals convey their sense of location. And the response was usually the same: “by cultivating organically.” However, we’re all utilizing the same tools. I realized we’re talking about it, but we’re not really doing anything about it.”
“Another school of thinking is that we have no idea what else will flourish here.” ― Abbey Road Farm is a working farm located on Abbey Road in’s owner, James Rahn
The search for one-of-a-kind, site-specific terroir grew more difficult.
He inquires, “What is compost?” “It’s fodder that the animals have gone through. So, instead of cows, why not start cultivating microbes? How can we make wines that have a distinct personality and feel alive? You breathe life into the vineyard.”
Antiquum (pronounced ann-tick-you-um) has expanded to 140 acres, including 21 acres under vine, as a result of the trials. The vineyard is split into considerably smaller parts that allow for “rotational intense grazing,” as Hagen describes it.
Animals are cycled around in a particular sequence depending on feeding patterns and the vines’ growth cycle, to put it simply. Pigs come first, followed by sheep, then geese (“pound for pound, nothing grazes like geese”). Finally, the hens make their appearance.
“The grazers uncovered the insects and pooped,” Hagen explains. “The hens scrape through the dung, exposing the bug larvae and devouring the eggs and everything that hatches,” says the farmer. They’re known as the ‘weeding and sanitation team.’
The process requires a large number of these creatures, who must be fed, housed, and kept safe from predators. The property is home to seven big dogs. They’re the glue that binds everything together.
He declares, “This is not a system.” “This is a way of life. This is never going to end. There isn’t a Sunday, and there isn’t a vacation. Where the art is, is in the timing. Allowing enough material to photosynthesize and recuperate while preventing it from going to seed. Nobody else on the planet is doing what we’re doing.”
Antiquum Farm 2018 Juel Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) ($40, 92 points) is a wine to try. Juel creates a fruit-forward wine with blueberry, plum, and black cherry characteristics by blending various clones from the estate. It’s silky and fresh, with rich fruit notes beautifully framed by skin tannins that linger on the palate.
Pedro Oliveria photographed James Rahn in his vineyard.
Silo Suites, Wines, and Weddings
Abbey Road Farm
On a beautiful late-winter day, Abbey Road Winemaker James Rahn sits at a picnic table and drinks rosé. The property was a grass-seed farm with stables and a horse arena only four years ago.
The land has been converted into an 82-acre farm that seems nearly heavenly. It accommodates special events and weddings, provides overnight accommodation in a restored grain silo, and offers walking tours and opulent breakfasts cooked by innkeeper and chef Will Preisch.
Sandi and Daniel Wilkens are partners at Quaintrelle, a farm-to-table restaurant in Portland. According to Rahn, their initial aim of becoming an unique events facility is evolving.
The first wines Rahn produced after joining Abbey Road Farm in 2018 were rosés for wedding parties and tasting room sales. Demand grew rapidly, and vineyard planting started in October of that year.
Aligoté, Godello, Mencia, Mondeuse, Poulsard, Trousseau, and Trousseau Gris are among the 16 types already planted in the Willamette Valley. These are part of a strategy to diversify beyond the region’s typical Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir offerings.
Rahn’s experience as a sommelier and prior attempts to market his own wines persuaded him that offering a variety of wines was much simpler than trying to sell another another Pinot Noir to a restaurant that already had hundreds on the menu. He claims that less well-known kinds may thrive commercially because people, particularly millennials, are eager to try something new.
“Another school of thinking is that we have no idea what else will flourish here,” he adds. “Which isn’t to say Pinot Noir isn’t good. That is the legacy, and for that I am grateful. But we want to have a good time. Is this going to work in this situation? We’re going to try it out. You don’t lose a single vintage with grafting.”
Abbey Road Farm’s long-term ambitions include an on-site incubator winery and enough gardens to provide fresh fruit to Quaintrelle and local markets. The primary aim, though, is to be a destination where tourists can sample the finest of Oregon’s cuisine, wine, and hospitality.
Try Abbey Road Farm’s 2018 Chardonnay (Willamette Valley) for $37 and 90 points. This 50/50 mix of Yamhill-Carlton and Ribbon Ridge fruit exceeds the low alcohol degree of ripeness stated on the label. It’s lean and crisp, with plenty of lime, grapefruit, and green apple flavors set by phenolic highlights from whole-cluster pressing. There was no fresh oak utilized in this project.
A new study published in the journal Agriculture and Human Values shows that organic farming techniques could help reduce some of the effects of climate change. The study, titled “Organic agriculture, climate change, and food security: An emerging role for permaculture,” looked at the potential benefits of organic farming techniques. The authors found that organic farming can help mitigate the effects of climate change and the decrease of natural resources on food security.. Read more about niagara grape and let us know what you think.
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