Howdy from western Oregon!
We hope this finds you well, we have had a fantastic summer here with all kinds of things to report. We also have three more 2017 Pinot noirs for you and for the Oregon chardonnay lovers we have 2 new chardonnays, one from Yamhill Carlton and other from the Eola Amity hills, both are delicious! And of course the 2018 version of our skin fermented Pinot Gris
Our 2019 has been amazingly busy with so many things to tell – goats and a donkey! Fencing! Vineyard progress! A bull! And maybe the most amazing – biochar! Biochar? What the hell is biochar? Basically charcoal, but when produced in a specific way it has amazing properties that can have all sorts of applications, including agricultural. Last spring we began preparing ten or so acres for vineyard which produced about 200 piles of biomass. Conventional practice is to push these piles into larger piles and then light on fire. Clare and I sought a different approach that would create a product from the harvested biomass, chipping and composting was a potential solution but would have been energy, time and space intensive. I had read about biochar and even made some on a very small scale, this is the direction we wanted to go. It took us over a year to find the right people and machine, but with the help of Blackwood solutions we turned all 200+ piles of scotch broom, blackberry and immature douglas fir into 100+ 2 yard totes of biochar, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon in the form of biochar that will be with us for centuries. Clare and our friend Jeremy Fenske created a video that is on the front page of our website (the second now down) that explains the project in greater detail. Regardless, we consider our biochar project as the first step in establishing our vineyard in a thoughtful and environmentally low impact way. Stay tuned, more wackiness to come!
In the meantime the vineyard site is being prepped and seeded with cover crop in anticipation of planting in the fall of next year or spring of 2021.
Thanks to Dan Hoecker and his crew at Results Partners, perimeter fencing for vineyard (think elk!) has been completed as well as some livestock fencing. This has allowed us to get back into the goat game and made managing our cows A LOT easier. We have about a 3 acre part of our property that is really steep and severely overgrown with blackberry (invasive species). We have put 6 Boer goats (a meat breed) and a guard donkey in the area and let them go to town. Yes I did say guard donkey, his name is Sal, and from my perspective he is still very suspicious, but Clare is thrilled by his addition to the menagerie. The goats have thrived on this otherwise unusable parcel, they LOVE to eat the blackberry and we will enjoy eating them this fall and winter. Don’t worry Goateo is still around and won’t be on the menu!
Our attempts at artificial insemination with the cows has been a dismal failure, despite the handling equipment and our best efforts. One for six for the past 2 years doesn’t cut it, so we are now the proud owners of a red Devon bull, named Red Fred. We hope Fred will produce a few more calves for us than the turkey baster did.
In other farm news, American guinea hogs Sam and Rick are happy and thriving under Clare’s care, layers are mostly contained and another year of broilers have made it from post office (as chicks) to pasture to freezer. Bees are thriving and Bob the cat continues to charm everyone along with Clementine and Levi who advise us to the comings and goings of the life here at BTF.
I spent the month of July tasting the 2018’s and preparing for bottling mid august. Everything went like clockwork and I am really happy with the wines. We look forward to sharing them with you next year. 2019 harvest is right around the corner, it has been a delightful summer, I call it a good sleeping summer, only one hot spell early on that was uncomfortable and more rain in July and August than most years. Keep your fingers crossed for more great weather as the grapes ripen in the coming weeks.
2018 Pinot Gris – this is our second year working with fruit grown by Brian O’Donnell of Belle Ponte. We were super happy with the 2017 and are equally delighted with the 2018. Fermented on the skins per usual, with just the right amount of tannins and acid and sweet fruit. I can’t wait to have this wine with a seafood meal, oysters on the half shell and Dungeness crab immediately come to mind! Bottled without fining or filtration, just like all the other wines I make. Theses are maybe some of my favorite labels that Clare draws, this year thimbleberry and fescue. 133 cases produced, 32 dollars a bottle, and don’t forget, complimentary shipping on case orders!
Attention! All Oregon chardonnay lovers! We have 2 new bottlings for you!
2017 Yamhill Carlton chardonnay – we realized last year that we work with 7 different chardonnay sites and that after we make the elusive queen there was still an opportunity to make some regionally focused wines, hence this wine and a second from the Eola Amity hills. Several sites in each AVA comprise both wines. The YC is mineral driven, some fruit of course, very dry with some tannin – delicious now but will also reward if cellared. I hope you love these chardonnays as much as we do! Blossoms on the label, 91 cases produced, 48 dollars a bottle.
2017 Eola Amity hills chardonnay – companion to the YC – slightly more fruit forward and generous, same winemaking but clearly very different fruit sources make distinctly different wine. We hope you enjoy them both for their individuality and reflection of time and place. This wine has a nice sweetness on the palate (although completely dry) and a finish that lingers and lingers. We look forward to enjoying this wine this fall, and watching it develop in the coming years. We just had a 2014 BTF chardonnay at a wine dinner (thank you Q!) and it was a standout for the evening.
2017 Cattrall Brothers vineyard – spicy, earthy and a healthy dollop of fruit thrown in – Bill and Tom work together to farm their neighboring vineyards, certified organic since the beginning in the 70’s and 80’s. 700’ elevation and direct exposure to the Van Duzer corridor winds make this our most restrained and delicate pinot noir year in and year out. Vineyard runabout on the label, 136 cases produced, 62 dollars a bottle.
2017 Sunnyside vineyard Pinot noir – It is important to me to be present during the growing season to understand what and how the conditions the grapes have been created in. I spent a great deal of time visiting each site as the grapes ripen to access and evaluate what will eventually come into the winery and decide when to pick, the most important decision I make. For this reason I choose vineyards that are close by. Sunnyside is my furthest flung, just south of Salem and takes me about 45 minutes to get there. Lucy and Tom’s fruit and resulting wine is so compelling that the extra time to get there is well worth it. Elegant and yet still muscular, this vineyard produces amazing wine year in and year out. Label is one of Clare’s laying hens, 245 cases, 62 dollars per bottle. Shipping is on us when you buy a case!
2017 Yamhill Carlton Pinot noir – Now comprised of 4 vineyards here in the YC AVA – where Big Table Farm resides – each brings a slightly different element to create a wine with the power the area is known for, but also the finesse that makes Pinot noir so beautiful. I visit these sites as often as all the others, but their proximity makes it just a little bit easier. Three are early ripening (warmer) and the fourth is one of the last to be picked. Clare has chosen to honor the area’s history by drawing local barns for the labels. 239 cases produced, 62 dollars per bottle, and yes of course we will cover the shipping when you order a case!
A general note on these wines, we opened them to inspire us to write you several days ago, because they are young and energetic they have continued to develop and become more expressive with time open. Gentle winemaking, youth and vivaciousness give them the ability to be enjoyed over several days time, if possible. Decanting may be another option, but we have not tried this recently.
Our Magnum release is end of September and we still have 2017 Willamette valley Pinot noir and a little bit of the 2017 Pelos Sandberg vineyard left. And please remember – complimentary shipping on all case orders!
Cheers! From Brian and Clare and the whole team at BTF
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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 Laura (the newest member of our team!) 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.