Fall 2017 release

Photo taken at IPNC this July by:Jamie Goode

Photo taken at IPNC this July by:Jamie Goode

... making decisions on the elusive queen with clare

... making decisions on the elusive queen with clare

Howdy all! I hope this finds you well.  Summer has always been my favorite time of year, it’s just too damn short.  I like the fall too, but it takes second place to the Oregon summer.  There is something about the energy that comes from the warmth and long days. 

Nevertheless we are happy to present you with our fall release wines: Cattrall, Sunnyside Wirtz and Yamhill- Carlton.  I am sipping these wines as I write, each one is a stunner in it’s own way.  This missive comes to you in a precious moment as I prepare for bottling the 2016 wines and before harvest of 2017.  

My overarching winemaking goal is and has always been to make delicious wines.  Complexity, age-worthiness and interesting wines are all also important, but if the delicious is not there, then all else is unimportant.  I mostly use my own palate. I taste and try and taste again, from the grapes in the beginning to each of the barrels before blending, sometimes until my mouth can take no more.  Each barrel is evaluated a multitude of times to make sure it finds the right home in one of our wines, or is even cast off.   


We drink all of our wines regularly because we make what we like and what we think is delicious.  I am sure you have all heard the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the sauce” -  small wineries like ours where the owner is also the winemaker are in a unique position artistically. We have no outside investors, owners or partners looking over our shoulders and the wines can truly reflect a singular focus. I certainly check in with clare to make sure I am not crazy, but she likes my wine too. Perhaps that’s why the labels are so great!  Or maybe it tastes good because the labels are so great!  OK – enough bullshit – here are the wines.

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The Wines

I tasted them in this order... so here they are presented to you as well.

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2015 Yamhill- Carlton pinot noir.  

Big Table Farm is in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and the longer I work with fruit from Coats and Whitney and Kalita the more I appreciate the power, depth and dark fruit flavors that grow here.  Both vineyards are represented equally in this blend and maybe someday a little BTF fruit will join in.  We love old barns and the emotions they evoke whether you are viewing across the landscape or protected inside.  Pike Rd Barn on the label .303 cases made. 48 dollars/bottle.

2015 Wirtz Vineyard pinot noir. 

These old vines have become my friends. We have made wine since 2010 and started farming it in 2013, so I have walked up and down the rows many times.  I have always loved the spice and red fruit that come out of this vineyard regardless of vintage.  Label isthe flat friendly fir.  368 cases.  48 dollars/bottle

2015 Sunnyside Vineyard pinot noir. 

Vibrant and stalwart – this wine is always a reflection of luci and tom and the effort and enthusiasm they put into farming their vineyard.  I am honored that they continue to sell me their fruit, I do my best to let their work shine through.  Always savory, both red and blue fruits make this an irresistible wine.  One of Clare’s chickens on the label.  369 cases.  48 dollars/bottle

2015 Cattrall Brothers Vineyard pinot noir. 

Fruit and humus and then some in this wine, definitely a pinot lovers pinot.  Bill and Tom broke the mold.  They have farmed cooperatively and organically since the 70’s.  Again I am honored that they continue to sell me the same rows of own rooted wadensville since 2009.  I always do my best and I think everybody will be happy with the 2015 version.  Tom’s grape delivery truck on the label. 202 cases made.  48 dollars/bottle.

2016 Pinot Gris.

Yet to be bottled this wine is last but not least. (It will be bottled in just a few days) This wine is made in the same fashion as all previous vintages. The fruit is macerated in its own juices until it starts to ferment with its natural yeast. It’s then pressed and finishes both primary and malolactic. The copper color and structure comes from the time spent on the skins. The result is a very full-bodied, luscious wine with lots of fruit and structure, and with the freshness of a white wine. We will rack 5 barrels today and bottle approx 125 cases. Queen Anne’s lace on the label. $32 dollars/bottle

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The 2015 vintage was warm, then a little hot, then warm again and then thankfully cool in September.  It was large in terms of the volume of fruit, which was a good thing given the warmth, giving the vigorous vines more work to do and extending the ripening.   The cool September allowed us to make our picking decisions in a thoughtful way.  The resulting wines are beautiful, balanced and of course delicious.  The quintessential Oregon pinot noir in my mind.  They are drinking well now and conceivably for the next 3-5 years.

On the farm

miss 'buttercup' awaiting more treats...

miss 'buttercup' awaiting more treats...

We will be attempting to AI our cows again this year – we have ordered some handling equipment to avoid the rodeo action of 2016.  Curley the bull did the job in the end last year and we had 6 healthy calves hit the ground this spring.  They are so fun to watch cavort, playfulness must be an attribute of all youth.   Our freezer is full of broilers that clare did another amazing job of raising and of course, thanks to shorty the steer, we will be well fed again this year.  My garden still takes more time than it should and of course the book titled “The $64 Tomato”  often rings in my ears. 

Clare is still riding and driving her horses, but just realized that hummer is a little older than we thought and only has 4 teeth.  So of course he gets special treatment and I fear a third horse might be in the works.  Levi and Clementine are still happy to perform dog tricks if you have some treats and of course goatio still graces the place (and sometimes guest’s shoes).  And how could I forget the pigs – hibiscus and buttercup are cute as ever, love all the windfall apples and pears and their daily belly rubs. Buttercup will grace the 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir label, and of course will make more delicious pork chops, bacon, prosciutto, lard, sausage, coppa roast… yes, we eat well.

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My very best to all of you, thank you for enjoying our wine, making the trek out to see us or taking the time to say hi at an event.  We cannot do this without you. 

cheers! Brian and Clare

buy wine

To get right to the wines, click here!

Note on ordering wine: we respect YOUR time.

If you're super busy - please let us help you order wine in whatever way is EASIEST for YOU! We are happy to assist. Call, email - Clare and Elaine are always available to make sure you get the wines you love! If you want to reach out please just send an email to admin(at)bigtablefarm.com or call 503.662.3129 - and we'll follow up with YOU and get your order!

Wine orders will be shipped end of September or early October, when temperatures across the country are a little more consistent, we will follow up with your order's shipping details.

thanks Mila for capturing this special moment!

thanks Mila for capturing this special moment!

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Royalty, Dirt, Romance and Rose

Howdy!  Spring has sprung here in western Oregon – we are so happy to see all of the blossoms and to have three more wines to offer!  Here are the latest versions of the Laughing Pig Rose, the Elusive Queen and of course, Earth!

The 2016 Laughing Pig Rose – wrongly or rightly I always use the rose as a bellwether for the latter bottlings of the vintage, what does the 2016 LPR say about its yet to come relatives?  Bright, intense fruit and good now but good later too… it really reminds me of the first Laughing Pig we made in 2007, which we surprisingly recently tasted.  Clare found a forgotten case in our cellar (it is crowded, not big) and we apprehensively popped one open and lo and behold – still vibrant and completely drinkable.  I think its best days have passed, but this ten year old rose speaks volumes to maintenance of vitality through gentle handling in the winery.  


The 2016 vintage was almost a repeat of 14 and 15 but with a smaller crop load – smaller berries and clusters meant less saigné (bleeding of the red wine ferments to concentrate flavors) was needed so consequently we made significantly less rose.  This wine has energy and nerve beyond belief, red raspberry and floral on the nose and into the palate that continues for seemingly forever.  Only 129 cases bottled and I am reserving a couple to keep me company in the garden throughout the summer.  Get it while you can, 2016 Laughing Pig Rose, $32

The Elusive Queen is a passion project for Clare and me – we seem to share a similar palate when it comes to chardonnay and it is really romantic when we can agree on something we want to drink together, that we made together.  Best on days that went a little sideways and a correction is needed, the EQ comes out and wow! – smiles happen and worries disappear.  The Elusive Queen and Earth represent what Clare and I feel epitomizes what we work so hard to achieve and we want to enjoy.  We hope that it raises consciousness in a moment for you too.

Earth is the Pinot noir counterpoint to the Elusive Queen.  I do the heavy lifting of the initial barrel selection with a piece of chalk in my pocket and notes at hand, tasting and marking each barrel.  This process takes over a month to accomplish.  Then Clare comes in and helps with the final decisions that make these wines happen.  They are the best in our cellar.  Any winemaker can/will tell you that there are always a few barrels that stand out from all the others, and we feel that we can skim a little of the cream off the top, for ourselves and those of you who share our palates, without dramatically affecting the rest of our blends.  As I have said before – I treat all fruit and fermentation lots equally once they come into the winery.  I do my very best to guide each to dryness and then into barrel, using foot stomping and a simple basket press.  Malolactic is encouraged by maintaining conducive temperature, which is easy in our super efficient building.  Minimal sulpher is maintained and a small adjustment made at bottling.

Some barrels just stand out, some we just like more than others, so we select and blend and bottle to our own taste.  If no one else likes them, no problem, we will happily enjoy them ourselves.  We are so happy with the 2014 versions of these wines, it would be embarrassing to admit how many bottles we consumed ourselves.  We are in the lucky position that we can make what we truly enjoy, as Clare and I are solely responsible, and therefore free to make wines we chose.


The labels are wacky but beautiful, you will have to ask Clare what they signify.

2015 Elusive Queen Chardonnay, 109 cases, $85 bottle
2015 Earth Pinot noir, 107 cases, $105 bottle

I hope you have already popped a few corks of the 15’s we have just made available, Willamette Valley and Pelos Sandberg Pinot noir and Willamette Valley Chardonnay.  If you liked these then Earth, and the Elusive Queen should please as well, and hopefully even more!  All of the above are available on our website.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the 14 versions of these wines and we are thrilled to be able to present the 2015 versions to you!  We hope that the enthusiasm the 2014 EQ and Earth (both sold out) received will extend to the 15’s.  We have started to drink them now, and like all our other 15’s they have surpassed my expectations.  I am still stunned by what they have evolved into.

Thank you again for continuing to enjoy our wine, we love what we do and are so grateful for your continued support.  Cheers from our table to yours! Brian and Clare

 

Happy Spring

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Happy spring!  From wet western Oregon – we are thrilled the days are getting longer and warmer with a bit more sunshine.  We are also thrilled to have some terrific wines from 2015 to offer – our 2015 Willamette valley Pinot noir and Chardonnay with of course the Pelos Sandberg Pinot that always shows well as a youngster.

Ten years into this crazy Oregon adventure Clare and I still shake our heads in disbelief at who and what surround us – We have great team here at the farm, our winemaking/winegrowing community, the vendors we work with and of course our customers, YOU!  Who keep coming back for more is most humbling and encouraging at the same time – motivating us to continue to strive to do our best.

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We began labeling the 2015 wines Feb 6 and just finished – 3.5 weeks to apply art to the front of each bottle and wrap to protect it. The first couple years Clare and I did this together, maybe with a friend or two, and then even just 150 cases took forever, but we felt then and still do today that dressing each bottle shows how important they all are to us.  Now that we are making a bit more wine we hire a small crew, train them and then work with them every day to ensure all goes well.

brian working on the blends!

brian working on the blends!

So you may say “the wine looks good – how does it taste?” my easy response is the wines are stunning, I am stunned by them.  I put the blends together end of August, bottled them and sent them to the warehouse and promptly put them out of my mind to focus on the 2016 vintage.   We just recently began to try them and I am truly amazed at what they have blossomed into, both Chardonnay and Pinot alike.  Certainly a knitting together and development is to be expected.  I knew the blends were well crafted and would be very approachable, pleasing wines, but as one mentor told me – winemaking is part art, part science and part magic, and certainly there is a lot of magic at play as part of the 2015 vintage. I have embraced this way of making wine – I think it gives me the license and ability and boldness to capture the moment of each vintage, at each vineyard and at BTF. 

As shepherd of each vineyard, each block within and then each small fermentor I use all of the art and science I know to push the magic in the right direction – shoving doesn’t work nor does being timid.  The results of all the coercion in 2015 are magical, you have already had a few – the LPR, Pinot Gris and Edelzwicker. If you like these then the Pinot noir and Chardonnay are sure to please (hopefully) as well – lithe, taut, plenty of fruit and tannins that will make you remember it is wine for a couple years.  Not surprisingly the benefits of magic can also have unintended consequences – the unforeseen drawbacks, and while the 2015’s are delicious they have decided to deposit more of a sediment than I would like or we normally see in a young wine.  I do not know why this has happened, the racking (moving the wine out of barrel, off the lees) went really well. I rack every barrel myself while Jeff is close at hand and does all the many other important tasks.  We plan and prepare for the prebottling racking and yet with true magic there is always mystery.  This sediment is really only a small inconvenience and most wines eventually throw some as they age, but for some reason our 2015’s have chosen to do so a little bit sooner than we expected – yet please believe me they are DELICIOUS!

In addition to the magic, I have always believed that wine has vitality to it, that like all life, is finite and therefore I take a less is more approach once we have guided the fruit from vineyard to barrel.  Once in barrel the wine continues to ferment until all the sugar and malic acid are consumed, hopefully by late December or early January, but sometimes not.  We add a little sulpher and top the barrels regularly, but mostly we just let the wines rest and settle in barrel.  As the bottling date nears we gently move the wine out of barrel into a blending tank, mix and we are ready to bottle, no filtering or other processing that might take some of the nourished “vitality” away.

2015 was a large (volume of fruit) and warm vintage, with a nice cool September.  Early bud break and flowering with good set, set the stage.  We knew we would have a long growing season ahead so the prudent gamble was to leave a little more fruit on the vines to slow maturation down so we could finish ripening in the shorter cooler days of late September and early October.  This gamble paid off and as I believe you will taste, exceptionally balanced Pinot noir and Chardonnay with amazing aromatics, mouth filling flavors and yet the ethereal feeling of weightlessness.

2015 Willamette valley Chardonnay –

we just poured this wine at the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration with 40 other Oregon wineries – what a fun Saturday afternoon! Our ’15’s showed beautifully and were well received.  Selling Oregon Chardonnay today reminds me of our early days with the Laughing Pig Rose – I often had to cajole people into trying it, because I know it is great and it is different than what they expect it to be.  Now, dry rose has many fans and I hope that we continue to build the same understanding and enthusiasm for Oregon Chardonnay.  I enjoy making it and Clare and I both enjoy drinking it.  As I have said many times, if we can make decent Pinot noir we should also be able make Chardonnay.

Sourced from the same 6 Willamette valley vineyards as 2014, barrel fermented in French oak (about 10% new) with yeast that blew in the door.  We bottled after 11 months of aging without filtration or fining.  I think this wine will steal your heart, it has a special place in mine. The label is one of Clare’s honey bees humping a thistle, 950 cases produced, $45


2015 Willamette valley Pinot noir –

This wine leaps out of the glass with fruit and spice and doesn’t let up until long after you have set your glass down – unless of course you take a perfect bite of anything – it will ALL taste better!  This wine is a true representation of the northern Willamette valley as all 8 pinot sites I work with end up in this bottling, from south of Salem to north of Forest Grove.  It would be arrogant of me to think I could predict which fruit will turn into the best wine (that magic, remember?) so I treat all with equal diligence.  I think this approach makes this bottling different but on par with our vineyard designates – it is more affordable because we make a lot more of it, but it gets the same care and handling as the rest of the wines.  Kirby and Pickle saunter on the label, they were super cute American guinea hogs and now they are super delicious.  We hope this wine is regular on your table.  Please don’t be afraid to open it and drink it over several days (if possible).  I regularly drink our wines leftover from tastings 2, 3 and even 4 days later.  This is a benefit of youthfulness and the maintenance of vitality.  Regardless, Enjoy!  2393 cases produced $42.

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2015 Pelos Sandberg vineyard Pinot noir

Year in and year out the wine that comes from Don Sandberg’s hard work in the vineyard is always delicious and 2015 is no exception.  As the vineyard matures its’ wines continue to develop even more complexity and depth, with 2015 at the forefront.  My memory says past vintages are fruit forward and plush (it’s been awhile since I’ve had an older vintage, even the 14,  it has been sold out for quite awhile), while this wine still has the fruit but maybe more tension, tannin and acidity to balance the fruit, potentially a more age worthy PSV than past vintages by my hand.  Don is a tremendous farmer and a great friend. He also makes wine under his own label, from his own fruit, called IOTA.  Clare chose his 3 n’ 1, a cultivation implement, to adorn the bottle.  402 cases bottled, $48

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On the farm! 

We are still eating brussel sprouts! We have had multiple days of single digit weather this year and a few frozen pipes (none broken though, that we know of yet) and the brussel sprouts survived.  Most everything else in my garden perished, even the kale.  The barn is full of Clare’s menagerie, dry and warm, 1 cat (Winston), 1 Goatio, 2 horses, 10 cows, 6 of whom we hope Curley (the bull) was able to romance and we will have baby calves romping in the spring grass soon.  We attempted to use artificial insemination for the first time this year but it was an utter failure without proper infrastructure, it was a fucking rodeo.  We have learned our lesson and we will invest in some panels and a crowding pen and give it a try again in 2017, and hopefully Curly can stay home.  He is a nice guy and all but he is still a bull, big, strong and unpredictable.  Clementine and Levi still let us know when you have arrived most of the time, although Clementine is almost 11 and has let us know she is definitely only interested in working part time.  Instead of running out to greet you she compromises by barking at you from the porch… we are still in negotiations regarding this new protocol.


We have already seen a few of you with a great trip to Texas and Clare to the Carolinas for dinners and the Triangle Wine Experience in the beginning of Feb this year.  We are participating in IPNC July 28-30, a fabulous event, definitely a great weekend of Pinot noir in McMinnville.  We will also be doing a spring release dinner in Portland late March, 25th see below for detatils!

Also coming mid April – 2016 Laughing Pig Rose, 2015 Earth and Elusive Queen!

2016 Laughing Pig Rose – bottling is scheduled for April 4.  2016 was a ‘normal’ sized vintage, so there will be significantly less rose than the last two years, also it will be a little more intense, rich but still all the same tastiness as past vintages, just a little less of it to go around, so please act quickly once released if you want some.  We will also release 2015 Earth and Elusive Queen mid April – we are also extremely happy with where/how these wines are and look forward to sharing them with you.

Thank you again for all your support and enjoying our wines.  We look forward to continuing the adventure! CHEERS! Brian and Clare.

To get right to the wines, click here!

 

Note on ordering wine: we respect YOUR time.

If your super busy - please let us help you order wine in whatever way is EASIEST for YOU! We are happy to assist. Call, email - Clare and Elaine are always available to make sure you get the wines you love! If you want to reach out please just send an email to admin(at)bigtablefarm.com or call 503.662.3129 - and we'll follow up with YOU and get your order!

Wine orders will be shipped towards the end of March early April, when temperatures across the country are a little more consistent.

 

'winemaker dinner and spring release celebration in portland'

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We have changed dinner up this year! I'm really excited to tell you we are essentially bringing you our big table farm harvest dinner. Chef Tim Wastell and David Padberg,  two of our closest chef friends who happen to be two of portland finest chefs will both be cooking for us!! Tim and David have cooked at the farm countless times for big summer meals as well as our harvest dinners over the years. This year we changed things up and found a venue that will help us feature these two amazing chefs and our wines in the best possible way! I think this will be a spring release dinner to remember! 

This will be a multi-course dinner (menu coming soon! working with chefs on what's coming from us as well as our other friends' farms!)  We will be featuring our spring release wines as well as some extra special bottles including the 2011 Resonance Pinot Noir that we are pulling out of library!!! — Brian and I will be bringing out pre release wines too - The Elusive Queen and (fingers crossed) a sneak peek at the 2016 Rose - this is gonna be off the hook!!

As always, it will be a fun evening with good friends and wines...  

$125 including all wine pairings
When Saturday March 25th 7pm

Elder Hall - 3929 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212 - https://www.elderhall.com/

call big table farm to reserve your seat with payment - 503-662-3129
(don't delay, these seats will go very quickly!)
 

 

our tenth autumn at big table farm

photo: Neringa Greiciute

photo: Neringa Greiciute

Howdy from sunny western Oregon!  We have had a great summer here, I hope yours has been excellent as well.  We are excited to let you know that we have four more 2014 Pinot noirs and a couple ‘whites’ from 2015 now available.

Ten years ago Clare and I packed up our things and moved from a comfortable existence in Napa to Oregon with a crazy dream of making food and wine and enough space to do whatever we wanted. Little did I imagine then that the adventure we were embarking on would become what Big Table Farm is today.  We made 150 cases in 2006 with purchased fruit in a rented space. Today we are preparing to bottle almost 4000 cases in our own winery, thanks to the help of many. Our barn built two years ago has taken our beef herd to around a dozen, give or take a few depending on the time of year, and the facility has given us the space to focus on improving our herd and our grazing management.  We feel that our adventure is still a work in progress, we still have plans and ideas for improvement, refinements and hopefully making wine from the south slope above the winery.  We are deeply appreciative of what we have accomplished while continuing to move forward.  We are having a lot of fun and we are so glad to have all of your continued support.  Thank you!!

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Clare and I did most of the above single handedly until two years ago when we hired Jeff Porth to help bottle the 2013 vintage and make the 2014 wines.  He has been a perfect fit, a great worker and he seems to enjoy the craziness of Big Table Farm.  He shows up ten minutes early everyday and always has a great attitude and is ready to work – whatever that might be. We feel fortunate and greatly appreciate that he keeps showing up for work…  I know that we are not always easy to work for.

Clare continues to play with her horses when she isn’t breaking boards and throwing punches (2nd degree black belt now). Clementine and Levi have arguably the best dog life ever and mostly do a good job of letting us know when someone shows up. They will also relieve you of any food you might have in your car so beware. Levi ate two lunches last week. I spend more time than I should in the garden but I really enjoy it and we eat really well.
     
I look forward to the continued adventure and that in another ten years I can report equal success and progress.

The Wines

2014 was warm and dry without any difficult challenges in growing and ripening grapes. We had a timely rain at the end of September that gave the vines a little drink and helped them finish ripening the fruit.  It was the type of vintage that makes me joke that if I can’t make a decent wine from what I’m given then I should find another line of work!  The fruit was amazing and consequently I think the resulting wines are pretty good too.

2014 was the first vintage in our new winery, very exciting! Before the ink was dry on our temporary occupancy license the grapes were rolling up our driveway.  We are grateful to all who helped make the dream a reality.  We have settled in nicely and are looking forward to making the 2016 wines – very soon! We have a great crew lined up and as soon as the 2015’s are bottled at the end of the month the focus will be vineyard visits and making the best wine we can!

The Wirtz vineyard

We didn’t really plan it this way but our fall release includes three wines from the Wirtz vineyard. I met Dave Wirtz in September of 2007 when I went to buy a piece of used equipment from him. He was late so I helped myself to a vineyard tour. I was stunned and inspired by the old vines, planted before I was born. The vineyard was in rough shape, but the fruit tasted great and I told Dave that when I had the resources I would love to buy some fruit from him. I didn’t forget about the vineyard and in 2010 I made a trip out to visit and again I was stunned. Vast improvements had been made, new trellising, a small apple orchard liberated from an engulfment of blackberries and all the junk gone. I contacted the new owners and cousin’s of Dave who told me he had died but that they would agree to sell me some Pinot noir and Pinot gris. I was ecstatic and we continue to be so today, as we now farm all twelve acres (organically) and do our best to make delicious wine.


2015 Edelzwicker – this is our third attempt at coaxing the most out of the old vine Gewürztraminer, Pinot gris and Riesling that Dave and his dad planted in the late 60’s. I think these aromatic whites blend beautifully and make a wine that has so much more to offer than if we bottled each individually.  I know it is hard to say (try spelling it) but once you get past the name it’s a delicious wine.  Bone dry, bottled without filtration or any monkey business, it will make your mouth a happy place.
Blossoms - 299 cases produced – 28 dollars


2015 Pinot gris – the clone of Pinot gris at Wirtz vineyard is particularly dark, and we use this feature to make a wine that showcases this. Fermented on the skins until I think it tastes right, about ten days, we press it and let it finish fermenting in old French oak barrels. The dark skins make this wine orange in color and we can’t get enough of it when there is seafood on the table. Clare’s art on this bottling is one of my favorites of the year.
Pasture wild flowers – 159 cases produced – 32 dollars


2014 Pinot noir Wirtz vineyard – Dave got all of his vines from Charles Coury, who had a nursery at what is now David Hill winery, which is close by. I don’t think Charles was the most organized person – nobody really knows where he took his cuttings from in Europe, so the early vineyards planted from his nursery have the dubious distinction of being planted to the “Coury clone”. When I walk through the vineyard I see varying morphology and can only guess that there was a lot of variety in parent material. I think this is maybe where the wine gets its consistently warm spice notes, red fruit and earthy notes. We are honored to be making wine from these old vines.
Maple seeds – 367 cases produced – 48 dollars


2014 Cattrall Brothers vineyard – despite the warmth of the vintage, Tom’s vineyard continues to show me why it is great for Pinot.  The high elevation and great exposure to the cooling winds of the van Duzer corridor make it a cool site that maintains its acidity.  It is powerful, elegant and yet has a wildness to it. Tended organically since the beginning and all Wadensville clone.
Tom’s grape delivery truck – 193 cases produced – 48 dollars


2014 Sunnyside vineyard – this is the fourth vintage I have worked with Luci and Tom’s fruit  - and we finally convinced Luci she needed to stomp some of her own produce (yes, we still make wine the old way). She did a great job and maybe we can convince her to do it again in 2016!  Planted in 1971, I was born then but still shitting my pants. Dark fruit, spice and enormous amounts of complexity are the hallmarks of wine from this vineyard and 2014 has it in spades. Don’t miss it.
Rooster – 348 cases produced – 48 dollars


2014 Yamhill Carlton AVA – our own backyard, someday we will contribute fruit to this cuvée. 2014 sees the addition of the Kalita vineyard, only a few miles from BTF. Its elevation and south slope seem to ripen fruit perfectly – not too fast, not too slow – just right.  This, combined with the elegance and finesse of the Coats and Whitney vineyard give the wine a presence and depth that beguiles its charm.
Barn of Yamhill County – 228 cases produced – 48 dollars

All wines are fermented with whatever yeast blows in the door. Minimal handling and only small SO2 additions leave the vitality in the wine and also a little sediment. These are the wines Clare and I want to drink, and do on a regular basis.  I believe this informs my winemaking. We love to eat and drink and therefore make what we want to eat and drink. We have recently realized that we are somewhat unique in that we are able to make wine to our own taste. We own it, most winemakers are obligated to indulge the desires of an owner or investor or the marketing department. I often joke, but with some seriousness that if we can’t sell it we’ll be happy enough to drink it ourselves. We are, however, grateful that some of you enjoy the same things we do!

To read more about the wines of our newest release, click here.

Cheers! from our table to yours, and thank you again.  Brian and Clare

p.s. All wine orders will be shipped in the Fall, when cooler temperatures are frequent, so that your wine is not cooked during transportation. 

Royalty, dirt and a little pig

It seems like just yesterday we sent our last missive, but it has been six weeks.  We hope all who have ordered the first of the fourteen pinots are enjoying them and are happy with our efforts. We have two new wines to offer and a reliable favorite. 

Clare and I have evolved as a winemaker and an artist dramatically since we started Big Table Farm almost ten years ago.  I have gone from using the memories and wisdom of mentors to creating my own set.  The wines that I make today are certainly still influenced by what I learned from others so long ago, but I have filled in those lessons with many of my own. I know what I want to drink and how to push to get there.  

To that end, the Elusive Queen and Earth most clearly demonstrate what I and Clare feel represent what we are most proud to share.  I joke, but in all seriousness, if we can’t sell these wines, we will be happy to drink them ourselves, and at just over 100 cases each we could certainly do with time.  These wines are not for everybody. They are for those who know and want understand pinot noir and chardonnay, unquestionably some of you know even more than I. 

With almost 700 cases of chardonnay and 3000 cases of pinot noir in our cellar for 2014 we felt that we could pull out the best of the best barrels, blend and bottle them, without having a dramatic impact on the regular bottlings. 

I hope that those of you who get to try these wines enjoy them, I hope that this trial is a success because I would like to continue creating and exploring the best that I can offer each year with what is presented to me.  Will these blends happen every year? I don’t know. 

I don’t remember who came up with the name Earth but I chose it. There were other names bantered about but I chose Earth because it represents so much and can mean so many different things, interpreted from a plentitude of angles. It is our home, expansive and tiny at the same time. Made simply of 118 elements, yet so profoundly complex. We have known it for generation upon generation yet we continue to make discoveries, both personally and scientifically. As I write I think maybe I have chosen a name too grand, but I want this wine to make us think about our home. Clare and I try to live each day in harmony with ourselves, each other and all that is around us. We are not religious, but we try to accept our humanity and try to live within the confines of our home and what it can support. 

As the wines are a departure from our past the labels are also an artistic exploration. I remember the day Clare was working on them.  It was a beautiful Sunday (one of the first we have started to take off). I was in and out of the house as she worked with focus and intention. I left her alone and when she finally showed me what she had come up with – I was a little shocked and asked her what she had been smoking? 

Absolutely nothing she laughed (not her thing and I know it) and proceeded to explain the significance of all that had been committed to paper. I cannot remember all that she explained and I’m not sure I would/should share if I could. I think it is up to you to make your own inferences, to add to the enjoyment and mystery of drinking these wines. 

The name the Elusive Queen is inspired by Clare’s passion for keeping bees.  As you well know, our Willamette valley bottling of chardonnay always has honey bee inspired drawings, so then should the barrel select.  Clare can tell the story better than I but the name came to her one day as she was collecting a swarm of bees and wasn’t sure if the swarm contained the queen, and then she caught a glimpse and knew the swarm would turn into a successful hive. 

2014 Elusive Queen Chardonnay, 116 cases produced, 85 dollars

2014 Earth Pinot noir, 108 cases produced, 105 dollars

Part II – April 8, 2016.  Today was a great day, cold and clear in the dark this morning as I opened up the winery to prepare to bottle the 2015 Laughing Pig rosé and edelzwicker (fall release).  This was our fourth time bottling in our new winery, and it gets easier every time. The bottling went smoothly, Clare made everybody cornbread and chili for lunch. Jeff and I cleaned up in the afternoon and now I am sipping 2015 Laughing Pig rose as I write- admiring the cows graze new spring grass, dogs lazy in the sun on the porch, and me taking it all in. The wines are TERRIFIC; I am looking forward to having the Laughing Pig around all summer.  I love to take a glass out with me at the end of the day to the garden and spend an hour or two hoeing weeds, puttering and planning, watering and watching it all grow. 

The laughing pig rosé is back – it is as good as ever.  We have just a little more than last year, and from what I read in the wine business rags, rosé is increasingly popular these days, so please don’t wait to order.  I promise it will make any occasion just a little bit better, a little laughing pig makes all moments more memorable. 

2015 Laughing Pig rosé, 480 cases produced, 28 dollars

Thank you again for continuing to enjoy and share our wine, this is unquestionably what allows us to continue this wacky adventure called Big Table Farm. 

From our table to yours, Brian and Clare

p.s. Click here to browse the three new wines.


'winemaker dinner and spring release celebration in portland'

Simpatica and Big Table Farm are teaming up for the fourth year in a row! For those of you who came last year and the year before, you know you are in for a very special evening!

This will be a multi-course dinner with big table farm wines paired with each course. We will be featuring our spring release wines as well as some extra special bottles — Brian and I will be bringing out The Elusive Queen and Earth! — our two new Cuvee's, and some big bottles too!

Menu — 

Simpatica Dining Hall Featuring Big Table Farm

Amuse Shrimp Crepenette, Citrus
2014 Big Table Farm Edelzwicker

Rabbit Strudel, Rhubarb, Tarragon, Fennel
2015 Big Table Farm Laughing Pig Rosé of Pinot noir

Burrata, English Pea, Radish, Pistachio Brown Butter
2014 The Elusive Queen

Smoke-roasted Ribeye, Shaved Asparagus, Morel Hollandaise
2014 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Pinot noir
2014 Big Table Farm Earth 

Torteau de Chevre, and assorted cheeses
2013 Big Table Farm Syrah

As always, it will be a fun evening with good friends and wines...  

$125 including all wine pairings, excluding gratuity
When Friday April 15th @ 7:30 pm

Where - 828 SE ASH ST. PORTLAND, OR 97214 

call simpatica to reserve your seat
(don't delay, tickets will go quickly!)
503.235.1600

Spring 2016 Wine Release

Howdy from rainy western Oregon!

We hope this finds you healthy and happy. We are a little soggy after a very wet winter but looking forward to a great 2016 after an amazing 2015. We are excited to have new wines to show and sell this spring! Our 2013’s were well received and we watched the last of them walk out the door a couple months ago, so we have rested up and are ready for a (hopefully) busy spring and summer. 

2015 ended with a bang for us. Harvest was fantastic; we had a great team, thank you to all! And especially Clare, who fed the whole gang. The fruit was perfectly ripe and bountiful and I hope/think we have succeeded in making some nice wines. I will let you be the judge of that, soon, our Laughing Pig Rose will be bottled April 8 and ready to ship shortly thereafter. And then… one rainy December morning our phones started ringing… and didn’t stop for two days. Our 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot noir had been selected as #11 on the Wine Spectator top 100 wines of the year – we had no idea this was coming until the first congratulatory phone call. I am still stunned and honored to be estimated for inclusion on such a list, and so near the top. 

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Additionally we have received tons of great press from many others, best to check it out on the website lest my head get to big recounting it all.

We have settled into the winery nicely, our second vintage was much smoother than the first, the kinks have been ironed out and all the details that make a difference were in place. 

2014 — An Early Harvest

The wines we have to present to you this spring are the 2014 versions of wine we have been making for a few years now – Willamette Valley Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pelos Sandberg vineyard Pinot noir and one new addition, a southern Oregon Syrah.

The 2014 vintage was early, warm and large… and fantastic! An early harvest is usually determined months in advance by early bud break and bloom, so we knew it was coming. We had great fruit set, so we left a little more fruit on the vines to lengthen the ripening process – which was aided by the warmth. A timely rain at the end of September gave the vines just enough of a boost to finish ripening and toned down some of the sugar that accumulated during the warmer days in the beginning of the month. The resulting fruit was perfectly ripe - skins, seeds and stems, all of which come into contact with the juice, which was an equal perfection of sugar sweetness buffered by acidity, fermenting together to bring a sensorial exuberance to the final wines. My concern during the vinification process was too much of a good thing, so a gentle hand was used to extract enough but not too much.  The resulting wines are rich and powerful and at the same time balanced and delicate.  As young wines they are still evolving and are very exciting – they have much to offer and can differ dramatically from moment to moment as they open in your glass and through out the evening in bottle. We have enjoyed getting to know the 2014 wines, we hope you will too! 

The bounty of the 2014 vintage has given us the opportunity and fodder to select and blend a few barrels each of chardonnay and pinot noir that exemplify what Clare and I feel represent our best efforts. These barrel select wines will be available in the near future. 

The Wines of Our Spring 2016 Release

2014 Willamette Valley Chardonnay – warmer vintages present great opportunities to capture the best that chardonnay has to offer. 2014 saw the addition of fruit from the Shafer Vineyard, planted in the early 1970’s. I have finally convinced Miki Shafer that we are worthy of her fruit. The older clone planted on her property maintains it’s acidity as it ripens, much like the chardonnay from the Wirtz vineyard. I think these older clones blend amazingly well with the newer plantings found at Durant, Yates Conwill and Bieze vineyards. Our basket press was used along with piseage a ped (foot stomping) which has changed the nature of our wine. The brief contact of skins, stems and juice has given our white wines a slight “grip” that I think has taken them to a whole new level of delicious. All other aspects have remained the same – barrel fermented, some new but mostly used, batonage, malo lactic complete and the wine went from barrel to bottle as directly as possible. The chardonnay offered today is sure to please. 680 cases of our Willamette Valley chardonnay produced – adorned by bee boxes. 45 dollars/bottle


2014 Willamette Valley Pinot noir – this wine is a stunner, which is good because it is our largest production to date! There should be enough for everybody at 2200 cases, yet I can already hear the pleas come July of “are you sure you don’t have anymore?” Per usual this wine exemplifies the maxim the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  

While anchored by amazing pinot from Bieze, Johan and Coats and Whitney vineyards, it sees additional barrels from all the vineyards we work with, so it is a true Willamette Valley blend. One of our cutest pigs to date will make you smile on the outside as you grin ear to ear on the inside while drinking this wine. Bert, an American Guinea hog, 42 dollars/bottle


2014 Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Pinot noir – working with my friend Don Sandberg is just plain old fun. He is a constant perfectionist yet doesn’t take himself too seriously. Consequently he grows damn good grapes and shares them with us. I try not to fuck up his good work. In 2014 he offered us half an acre of Wadensville, in addition to the acre each of 777 and Pommard we have been buying since 2010. I was so excited I didn’t even check with Clare, I just said yes. The addition of the wild and brambly Wadensville clone has given this normally hedonistic wine an air of nobility – but don’t worry – it still has all the fruit, spice and silkiness of past vintages. Don got a new tractor that he was proud of so we put it on the label. 334 cases produced, 48 dollars/bottle


2013 Syrah – we have always had a soft spot for syrah, maybe even an Achilles heel, so we jumped when the opportunity came to work with Oregon fruit. The Rogue valley in southern Oregon is much warmer and dryer than our home in the northern Willamette, and gives this thick skinned variety what it needs to ripen. The 2013 vintage was an entirely different animal is southern Oregon - long and warm – the fruit came in well after we had put all the Pinot into barrel. Dark fruits, balanced acid, tannin and richness make this a beauty. And back to the beginning, knife, fork and spoon on the label. 195 cases produced, 48 dollars/bottle


Other Announcements

Over the past couple of years most of you have come to know Tiffany Stevens and her adept abilities of seamlessly getting your wine to you, navigating each of your state’s shipping, licensing, taxing and weather intricacies. Sadly she is moving to greener pastures, we wish her only the best.

We hope that 2016 is fruitful and fun for all – we look forward to seeing you at one of the many events we are participating in (or hosting). July 9 we are hosting Outstanding in the Field again. We will host a spring release dinner again at Simpatico dining hall, date still TBD. Clare will be in Chicago and the Midwest this spring and I will head to Atlanta for the High Museum wine auction end of March. There is more in the works that we will apprise you of in our next missive for the Laughing Pig Rose early April.

Thank you for continuing to enjoy our efforts, we cannot do it with out your buying and drinking our wines. We are truly amazed at the success of our Oregon adventure, thank you again. From our table to yours, cheers! Brian and Clare

ps. You can read more about our 2016 spring release by clicking here.

Fall 2015 Wine Release

Howdy from western Oregon!

We hope this finds you well and enjoying the last days of summer! I am writing you today to let you know that our single bottlings of 2013 Pinot noir are now available as well as two ‘whites’ from 2014, 6 wines total!  And to share all the goings on since I last wrote. Per normal we have been busy, welcoming so many of you to our little corner of earth, selling our wines and introducing animals, projects, and of course the new winery to old and new friends/customers alike.

Summer of 2013

The 2013 growing season resulted in grapes that were deceptively ripe – the metric commonly associated with ripeness ‘brix’ or measure of sugar, never materialized.  What happened? The summer of 2013 was beautiful, a good sleeping summer I overheard someone describe it. It never got too hot or too cool, perfect for ripening grapes, and that is exactly what happened.  However, September was exceptionally cool, so the normal accumulation of sugar that happens as the grapes finish maturing – didn’t.  So we had ripe fruit without a lot of sugar.  This translates into wines that have wonderful fruit, almost transparent tannins and for our fall release range in alcohol from 11.2 to 11.8.

We have begun to show the wines here at the farm as we have begun to sell out of the spring wines and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  I chose not to chapetalize (add sugar, both legal and common) because I thought the fruit was complete – it needed nothing.  This was a gamble that I believe has paid off – the wines are delicious and yet fall below the ‘acceptable’ level of alcohol of 12%.  These wines are charming companions with food and we hope they find their way to your table.

The 2013’s we released in the spring have gathered considerable accolades, 90+, from the usual suspects. These fall wines were made with the same care and gentle handling.  The fall wines range in production number from 136 to 211 cases.  This is not a lot of wine so please don’t hesitate if you are interested in buying these wines.  That being said we did make significantly more Willamette Valley Pinot noir and chardonnay, so we do still have some of those wines available.

Fall 2015 Release — The Wines

2013 Wirtz Vineyard Pinot noir –this was the first year we were entrusted with the farming of the entire Wirtz vineyard by brother and sister Ben Hawes and Megan Lockheart.  With new ventures comes excitement and enthusiasm as well as learning by experience – fortunately the 40 plus year old vines knew exactly what to do and we picked our first fruit of the vintage from the vineyard September 18.  I was duly impressed with what came into the winery and harvest began in earnest from all our other sites, allowing us to avoid the downpour of late September.

The resulting wine is beautiful – heady fruit and spice aromas lead to more of the same on the palate with a satisfying finish that begs you to take another sip, or another bite. Clare continues to draw fabulous labels, hazelnuts for 2013. 157 cases produced, 48 dollars.

2013 Cattrall brothers Vineyards Pinot noir – this is our fifth year working with Tom and Bill Cattrall, and the same block from Tom’s vineyard which sits high in the Eola Amity hills and is one of the coolest sites we work with.  The own rooted wadensville clone has been organically farmed from the beginning. We process the fruit with a hands off approach that would allow us to label as such with the exception of SO2.  We add a little after fermentation is complete, an amount that would be allowable under EU organic rules, but not in the US. 

All that aside – this is a compelling wine – red fruit and spice run from beginning to end all on a frame of 11.2%.  As we have begun to introduce this wine to many here at the farm the responses have been enthusiastic and positive, and yes it is true, when we run out of wine from a previous release we pre- release here at the farm.  Bill and Tom have an amazing array of equipment that continue to inspire drawings by Clare, this year a different persepective of their grape delivery truck. 136 cases produced, 48 dollars.

2013 Sunnyside Vineyard Pinot noir – visiting Lucy and Tom is always a refreshing experience. They take utmost care of their vineyard, deliberating course of action with equal parts education and experience – they have been tending the same vines for over thirty years. The evidence of their work and care is clear – not only in the appearance of the vineyard but the quality of fruit they produce and subsequently the wines. 2013 is no exception, the wine is substantial with all the trappings of past vintages, dark fruit, firm but elegant tannins and fullness yet weightless, all at 11.5%.  We enjoy watching chickens here at the farm, we call it chicken TV. Clare has attempted to capture one moment of that here.  211 cases produced, 48 dollars.

2013 Yamhill Carlton Pinot noir – this is a new offering from us and represents the best of what our neighborhood produces. Our property is within the YC AVA and our hope is that the fruit from our property will eventually end up comprising a portion of this wine, although that means we need to get off our asses and plant some vines. For 2013 however the wine is comprised solely from the fruit of the Coats and Whitney vineyard farmed impeccably by Daniel Fey and the team at Results Partners. My two favorite clones are planted on the 7 acre vineyard, pommard and wadensville and a mix of new and used French oak barrels along with some whole cluster fermentation make a distinctive wine. Clare has chosen a theme of Barn drawings for the wine – structures that grace our local landscape and the site of which we cherish. 160 cases produced, 48 dollars.

In contrast to 2013 – 2014 was also a beautiful summer but September was warm and mostly dry, punctuated by a late rain that gave the vines just enough of a drink to finish ripening perfectly.  Our first release of 2014, the Laughing Pig Rose is sold out, but not to worry there more wines to come, our Pinot Gris and Edelzwicker are available now, and are just as gorgeous, both from the Wirtz vineyard.

2014 Edelzwicker is the same as 2013 – yet different.  For one we bottled it in April but have held on to it until now – something we learned from our first vintage of this wine, 2013, a little time in bottle does wonders and the 14 has proven to be no different. Additionally, while still from the same blocks of Riesling, gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris the ratio of the three is slightly different, there is a little more gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris than Riesling, giving the wine a warm spice component to go with all the floral and fruit components.  Barrel fermented in neutral oak to dryness and malolactic complete and per usual bottled without any filtration or fining.  Pear blossoms (with a little color) adorn the label. 451 cases produced, 28 dollars.

2014 Pinot gris – we continue to make this wine in the same fashion since 2010.  Five years in we still think that using everything the grape has to offer is best.  Henceforth it is fermented on the skins and stems, the reddish/grayish grape makes an orange wine that explodes with fruit, body and texture and salinity – seafood, especially fattier versions have always been an amazing accompaniment, I fully expect the 2014  version of this wine to hold up its end of the bargain.  Erosion control plants after the construction here at BTF grace the label.   162 cases produced, 32 dollars.

The Farm and Goings On

Spring and summer have been amazing! We have been at BTF now for 9 years this fall, amazing how time flies.  Our team has doubled in the last couple years – Tiffany is moving into year three and does a fantastic job, I am sure many of you have heard from her as she keeps the right wine moving in all the right directions. Jeff has helped us in the winery and farm for just over a year now, we depend on both for their hard work to keep things afloat.

We hosted Outstanding in the Field for the second time July 11 and it was maybe even more inspired than the first.  The weather was perfect, food amazing and staff exceptional.  The wine was OK.  Feeding 160 people at one big outdoor table is no small feat.  We also participated in the International Pinot Noir Celebration as a featured winery at the end of July, it was great to see old and new customers alike, and is a super event.  We poured the Laughing Pig Rosé at Drink pink at Patton valley vineyard to finish the month, also a super fun afternoon focused on rosé.

Thank you to all who have bumped down our dusty road to say hi and buy our wines.  I am truly amazed at the steady stream of people who come to see us. 

Thank you and cheers! Brian and Clare


For Customers

And for all you loyal fans out there, we have another exciting announcement: We’ve just upgraded our e-commerce system to a new platform that will help us better manage everything from our mailing list to order fulfillment. 

What this means for you: your customer accounts will be more secure, the wine ordering process will be simpler, and it will be easier for you to manage your account. To get your account up to date, you only need to do one thing: change your password.

If you are a returning customer of ours, go to this page and enter your email address so that we can send you a link for re-setting your password. Please do this before you shop; it’ll make the checkout process much easier for you!

If you're a new customer, you can create a log-in during the checkout process (after you’ve added wine to your cart and proceeded to checkout).

As always, we thank you so much for your patience and support.

Take a look at the wines we have in stock or go straight to the online wine shop