Howdy from the Willamette valley!
Clare and I have had a great summer with so many things going on and buoyed by all of your support and enthusiasm for what we do and make. Thank you to all of you who enjoy our wines and Clare’s art, we are truly grateful and all of what we do would be impossible without you. We have many longtime and fabulous customers, but there are two in particular I would like to recognize today because they gave us a couple gems of wisdom that Clare and I repeat regularly as we try to steer our lives and business in the best direction. We are not trained or by nature business people, I spent ten years in Napa learning how to make wine before we moved to Oregon in 2006 to start our crazy project, and Clare has been painting since she was a little girl and studied graphic design and worked at that for 20 years until the winery began to pay for itself. Winemaking and art we know, running the business that goes with those, well, by the seat of our pants might best describe.
Ewen McKechnie lives in the San Francisco bay area as he likes to say and is originally from Scotland. He is a rugby teammate of my uncle, and as soon as he heard what we were up to he began calling us asking to buy wine – before we even had any to sell! He still calls us regularly to order wine and has been with us every step of the way, always encouraging. During a moment of difficult decision making he proclaimed that we needed to continue “onward through the fog”. This idea of pushing ahead into the unknown is a daily act of courage, but as Clare and I make big and small decisions, we decide and then move “onward though the fog”. “Onward through the fog” is repeated often by Clare and me as a way of breathing confidence into our plotted course as we venture into the unknown of each day. Thank you Ewen!
“Just get started” is the second phrase that we often repeat as a motivation for both big and seemingly small projects and challenges. This came from Peggy Dark, a successful entrepreneur, we met her briefly a number of years ago and as we were desperately trying to make our business work. Clare asked her what advice she could give us, and the three words of “just get started” have become part of our lexicon. We quickly realized that taking the first steps toward anything can be the most challenging, but once you have some momentum it is easier to keep going. “Just get started” is our regular motivational cheer, whether it is cleaning up the kitchen after a busy day of hosting or preparing to embark on a new project – like planting a vineyard. Thank you Peggy!
So yes! That is our exciting news – we have broken ground on planting vineyard on our property, behind the winery. This has been part of our vision from the very beginning. It is a big project for us, a little daunting on top of everything else, and expensive. We have chosen a great team of people to help us as we ‘just get started’. The process will take at least three years before we see any fruit and then at another year to 18 months to wine in a bottle. We look forward to the day we can share those efforts with you. Onward through the fog!
Other farm news
We just had our one and only calf of the year last week, so our initial attempt at artificial insemination was only 17% successful but at lest we avoided the rodeo scenario of the first attempt, and we have learned and made some changes that will hopefully make this year’s attempt in the coming weeks more fruitful. Clare is now quite the beekeeper with currently 5 hives, some of which are stronger than others, and she is definitely able to take some honey, which is great. Unfortunately she is still trying to figure out how to extract the honey from the comb efficiently, which to my chagrin means the kitchen is a perpetual state of sticky – the floor, doorknobs, utensils etc. So I look forward to the process being completed. With all the busyness of spring and summer my garden suffered a little bit. I still have lots growing but not as much as I would like. Hopefully I will find a moment to put in all the brassicas that we enjoy throughout the winter. Of course we have a couple pigs to help us clean up all the leftovers and windfall fruit – Henrietta and Reyna. They are hugely entertaining, both as pigs and as the labels they will adorn, and of course as all the deliciousness the will provide. Our laying flock has been reduced in numbers significantly by a coyote, plans are in the works to get a new flock and to fortify their living quarters. Clementine, Levi, Goatio and Bob the cat still consider themselves as greeters although both Clementine and Goatio are slowing down as they age, leaving Levi and Bob to pick up the slack.
We have some great wines to offer today! These wines represent my very best effort that each vineyard can produce. They all have their own quirks and characteristics that make them unique and delicious in their own way. I handle all the fruit that comes into the winery with equal diligence. I spend a great deal of time tasting the fruit and the resulting wine from each vineyard, and each barrel so that I can put together what I think are the best and most delicious representation each site can offer. Please enjoy, and remember, Case shipping is on us!
2016 Wirtz Vineyard Pinot noir. Sadly this is our last vintage of pinot from the Wirtz vineyard. The economic realities of leasing and farming an old vineyard and the time spent managing it no longer made sense. The bright side is this last wine is delicious and the void created has allowed us to focus on our own vineyard project. I will miss having a piece of history in our cellar and the wine that it produced, please enjoy this last effort. 203 cases produced, wild cherries on the label, 62 dollars per bottle
2016 Sunnyside Vineyard Pinot noir, this is 50 minutes from big table farm making it our farthest flung site, but the great fruit that Luci and Tom coax out of their old Wadensville vines is amazing and I do my best to capture that in the bottle. 326 cases produced, hen and chick on the label, 62 dollars per bottle, Case shipping is on us!
2016 Cattrall Brothers Vineyard Pinot noir, also Wadensville clone planted in their old vineyard, but very different aspect and elevation make for a very distinct wine year in and year out. 184 cases, vineyard truck on the label, 62 dollars per bottle.
2016 Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot noir – the same two vineyards as the last two years, Kalita and Coats and Whitney make up this AVA blend, combining to show the best our neighbor hood can produce. Big Table Farm is one step closer to being able to make a contribution to this wine! 315 cases produced, Bernard’s barn on the label, 62 dollars per bottle, and of course, case shipping is on us!
2017 Pinot Gris, also sourced from here in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, and made in the same style I have always done, fermented on the skins to create a wine that is copper colored and more importantly has structure and body to make it stand up to food, particularily seafood. 135 cases produced, ancient and invasive on the label, 32 dollars a bottle. And yes, case shipping is still on us!
As I write we are in the midst of preparing to bottle the 2017 vintage and anticipating 2018. We have had a warm growing season and I look forward to making more wine! It has been great to see so many of you at all the events we have participated in over the summer, and we look forward to seeing more of you in the fall, at Farralon for Pinotfest and Clare will be traveling to New York for the WS NY wine experience.
Clare and I consider ourselves so fortunate to have so many great customers, and love knowing that our work is cherished, shared and enjoyed all across the country and even in a few places around the world. Thank you again for all your enthusiasm for our wines, and of course, don’t forget, free shipping on Case orders!
From our table to yours, cheers! Brian and Clare
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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.