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!!
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.
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.