Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oregon vs Burgundy Take Away

          During my Oregon and burgundy wine experiences I have learned so much although I feel I haven't even really scratched the surface of knowledge about wine. Its so interesting to see the difference between the Oregon and burgundy. Some of the take aways that I have about this experience is that to begin with Burgundy has such a long history of making wine that Oregon is just a speck in history compared to Burgundy. We talked to so many people who have been in the industry in burgundy for so long and their families have been growing and making wine for generations its incredible to think that walking through the deep dark and moldy cellars of Joseph Drouhin we saw bottles of wine that were made before the Oregon wine industry was even in question. I also think that in Oregon we have so much to learn simply because we have not even half of the experience of the generations of French winemaking. also I learned that minerality is a touchy word in wine. we learned from a scientist that there is no such proof of what minerals taste like thus we cannot tell if a wine tastes minerally, even though winemakers will swear by the minerality of their wine. This is not to say that they are wrong theres just no proof of what minerals taste like. this was very interesting to me at how passionate some winemakers will be about the minerality of their wine. Overall i think this was a great experience and i pulled so much knowledge from this trip i could have never pulled this much information out of a book and being there first hand and tasting some of the most famous wines in the world was an amazing learning experience.

Little Lady, Big Business, Becky Wasserman

After a few days in Beaune we visited the sweetest little lady you will ever meet, she didn't stand much more than 5 foot but she was an inspiration to listen to. She invited us over for dinner in her beautiful house that she told us usto be a barn, with stone floors and walls and a magnificent wood beam ceiling it was a pleasure to be in such a homey place. She began by talking to us about how she first got into the wine industry. Over 25 years ago she traveled to the us with one French oak barrel. When she arrived she met with a few people in the California wine industry. They took great interest in the French barrels. She sold her one barrel in the us and after making a lot of connections in the us, the American wine makers wanted more. She then began importing barrels into the us. She was a one woman operation at first but as the demand for barrels grew so did her small company. Then by making these United States connections realized the demand for French wine. Becky began by shipping small quantities of wine to the us. Sometimes only a case at a time. Just like the barrel importing grew so did the wine importing. She was eventually shipping enough wine to fill entire containers. She began hiring on staff to help her with this massive feat and because of the way that she was discriminated against as a woman she only hired female workers. Throughout the life of her business she has held true to this idea and now maintains a crew of over 50 female workers. Her wine importing business has been very successful and it's amazing to see that one person can make such a big impact on an industry. The food we had was absolutely delicious and the wine that went with it was also very good! We tried 4 different types of wine at their house and then even opened a bottle of 1993 Pinot too which was so nice! It's not every day that you run into people as nice, welcoming and just genuinely happy as Becky and Russell. Thank you both we all really enjoyed spending time with you guys and hopefully our paths will cross again.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Terroir in Burgundy

On Thursday, the OWIE group braved the brisk weather of Beaune and departed our warm Ibis hotel. Our destination? Domaine Drouhin. We climbed beautiful, old stairs into a marvelous, oval meeting room and were greeted by Robert Drouhin. After sitting at the table, Robert began giving us a fairly condensed history of the Borgogne region in France, and he talked about Oregon a little bit too.

Some of the most interesting Burgundy facts he gave us were:
1) Pinot noir was native in the Côte d'Or when the Romans arrived.
2) We know that the vines were already well established and old in the 3rd century.
3) There is a high demand for Burgundy wine right now and they cannot produce enough wine.

Some interesting comparisons between Oregon and Burgundy:
1) Burgundy is way older than Oregon.
2) In Oregon, wine makers are able to do whatever they would like to their wine, whereas there are very strict rules in burgundy.

These rules include but are definitely not limited to:
1) 10,000 vines per hectare are required.
2) The vineyard location most likely determines the appellation of the wine, and it is very difficult to change the appellation (it can take years).

On Friday, Dominique Lafont said something interesting about these rules. He said, "Even though we have a lot of rules and restrictions in France, we also have all these rules to protect us, too." So he gave us a little more perspective on the rules!

That's all I have for today!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Meat and "Beaunes" of Wine

Watch someone taste wine. It is likely the first thing you will see is him/her swirling a glass then smelling the result of the opening aroma. It turns out all of the time I spent trying to nail down the descriptors for scents, I was only doing a third of the work involved in tasting. Looking for the structure, body, and feel of the wine on one's palate is where you can find the crucial differences in wine and understand the work of the winemakers. This has been one of my biggest takeaways.

I've also learned two important facts about the Burgundy wine industry: 1.) There is a deep emotional connection between those in the industry and their wines and 2.) Use caution when using the term minerality.

At the wine institute in Dijon, we were able to talk to a sensory scientist named Jordi. He was the individual who really opened my eyes to my own path and capabilities when it comes to wine. Jordi stated that there are no bilogical differences between expert and novice palates, meaning I am capable of understanding wine just as deeply as those we have met with time and practice. I look forward to taking this knowledge and continuing on in my journey with wine. As Jean Pierre at Joseph Drouhin said, "Free your mind for tasting"...and "New oak is like a razor in a monkey's hand".

Jan. Term Part 2: Beaune

    Tonight is the last night in Beaune for me and the fellow winecats (our nickname for the trip instead of wildcats). The past week has been amazing and a trip of a lifetime for me. I have never been to Europe and now I never want to leave.
     Over the past couple days we have met with world famous winemakers and seen where the magic happens, in addition to tasting wines that I will remember for a lifetime. I'll just highlight a few pieces from this part of the trip.
      The town of Beaune is absolutely charming with its cobblestone streets and historic steeples. Within the town we had the pleasure of visiting the Domain Drouhin cellars and meeting with Robert Drouhin himself. Before being the meeting he said this will be one of his last public meetings, it was an honor and I was tempted to ask for his signature. Hearing the history of his family first hand and how DDO came to be was incredible. In the cellars we witnessed the three acreas the spread beneath the city filled with barrels and old vintage wine bottles.
      Another memorable experience was the trip to Dominique Lafon winery, Domain des Cometes Lafon, who is Evening Land's consultant. He spent majority of the morning with us sharing his knowledge and passion and additionally letting us taste a great number of his wines. One interesting thing he showed us was how hail storms in the past two or three vintages have damaged almost fifty percent of his crop, thus leaving his cellars only halfway filled. In relationship to my project, about climate change, it will be interesting to note if this continues or is just bad weather repetitively.
     Last highlight of the trip, there are too many to mention, was the vineyard tour with Danielle Hammon, and employee of Becky Wasserman & Co. You would expect the vineyards to look the same as Oregon's vineyards since they are basically growing the same thing but this was not the case. Danielle showed us that Burgundy vineyards are much shorter and lower to the ground. Additionally they are much denser and the vineyards itself cover every square inch of the hillside. Some growers only have a few rows and others quite a few, the effect is a patchwork quilt, since each tends to their vines differently.
      It is difficult to pack my suitcase as I would prefer to stay in this village. The connections we have made and the things we have learned are invaluable and help shape the future I am looking for after Linfield. One thing I know for sure is that I plan to return to this region sometime in the near future. Now off to Paris!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wine in Oregon Jan term

          Our wine experience in Oregon was a great introduction to the France portion and it really helped highlight some of the relationships and differences between the France and Oregon wine growing regions.
          First we met with David Adelshiem. He gave us a slideshow that really helped us see the roots of where Oregon wine has come from with pictures of the first plantings in Oregon and some of his early trips to burgundy where he learned a lot of ways to make his winemaking processes better. One of the biggest things that we learned from him in my opinion was when he was asked what is the French secret to making wine he said there is no secret it's just simply about location. This was interesting because even a winemaker in French who would come to Oregon and make wine the exact same way he did in France there would be tremendous differences in flavor of the wine simply because of the growing regions.
          We also visited David Millman at Domaine Drouhin of Oregon who also gave us some great insight to working with a French wine making company. He showed us his operation and gave us a tour of the barrel room. One of the most interesting things that we learned from David in my opinion was the difference in wine bottle labels between bottling requirements in France and bottling requirements in Oregon. On this same day we also met with Whitney. She gave us a lot of insite into the some things that we would have to know about burgundy. One of the main things that she taught us was the differences between the cru's. Grand cru, premier cru, and village level wines. This refers it the placing of the vineyard on the side of the hill.
          Overall this was a great experience and very helpful in helping us develop the relationship and some of the differences between Oregon and France. I can't wait to see what France holds for us.

Harvest experience 2014

             During my fall harvest I chose to do my internship with Anderson Family Vineyard. The family was very helpful in my learning experience. When I arrived at the vineyard at 5:45 am we started by placing buckets of grapes into pallet crates and weighing them using a large scale and the fork lift. This was the first step before the grapes were then put into the sorting table where we picked out any leftover leaves and the de stemmed grapes were put into the plastic fermenters. We used pallet jacks to then move the crates into their shop where Mr. Anderson then added suffer into the vats. We worked all day until 6 at night doing these same things. One challenge that we faced was that it was hard to keep up with how many grapes were coming up the hill. They used a quad with a trailer that brought up 12 buckets of grapes at a time. This was a very efficient way to bring up the grapes and we were able to process the grapes very quickly. Overall I learned a lot from this experience and it was a very helpful in bettering my knowledge if the wine industry. It's very easy to learn quickly when you are thrown into the excitement of harvest.

Oregon Preparations

Over the first two weeks of January term, the wine cats had the opportunity to meet several winemakers with connections to Burgundy. These meetings prepared us for our current adventures in Beaune, Framce.

Our first meeting was with David Adelsheim of Adelsheim Vineyards. He gave us a short history of not only his vineyard and winery, but of his role in fostering relationships between Burgundy and Oregon. In 1974, Adelsheim studied at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune. He described learning that there aren't any secrets to great Burgundian wine—the place is it's own secret. The other great secret of both Oregon and Burgundy, he told us, is the idealism and the communal sharing that both regions embrace. In most other ways, Burgundy and Oregon are very different, from the soil to the parallels they rest on to the amount of government oversight.

At Evening Land Vineyards, we met with winemaker Ian Burch. Burch gave us a tour of their famous Seven Springs vineyard, nestled in the Eola-Amity Hills. Evening Land is unique in that it is comprised of three major vineyards, one each in Oregon, Sonoma, and the Côte D'Or. Seven Springs, however, produces incredible wines. Their La Source Chardonnay and La Source Pinot Noir were delicious when we tasted them. Additionally, Evening Land has several advisors who are big names in the wine industry worldwide. One is Dominique Lafon, who manages Domaines des Comtes-Lafon in Burgundy. We will meet Lafon during our time in France. The other is Rajat Parr, a well known Master Sommelier.

Our final two meetings were with David Millman of Domaine Drouhin Oregon and Whitney Schubert of Polaner Selections. Both presented on the soil, climate, and organization of winemaking in Burgundy. Millman's work with one of the most well-known Burgundian estates gave a lot of insight into what working for a French company might look like. Schubert works on a different side of the industry, as she manages the French brands imported by Polaner. We are all looking forward to meeting with Robert Drouhin and meeting up with Whitney in a few short days.

Overall, our time in Oregon has prepared us well for our current adventure in Burgundy. Knowing the history, soil, and a bit of culture will serve us well as we explore the Côte D'Or.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Oregon Teachings

   As I lay here at 6:30 am wide awake, thank you jet lag, I have had some time to reflect on the first few weeks of Jan Term and the people that we had the opportunity to meet with. First stop, David Adelsheim.
   David gave us a great PowerPoint presentation of the comparisons of Burgundy and Oregon, and the French influences on Oregon. This was very informative and had some amazing pictures that we were privileged to see. He really drew from his experiences and the growth that he, and his wife, were able to have because of the French influences. One big takeaway I took from this is that, even though the French Pinots are planted and grown in limestone, the oceanic soils also can make great wine. He told us that some people believed  that Pinot can only be grown in limestone, but he took a risk and it obviously paid off in the end. Without David, and others, Oregon's wine industry wouldn't be where it was today!
  The next stop was with Ian Birch, a winemaker for Eveningland and 7 Springs. This man embodies the French influences. He travels back and forth from Oregon to France, like many others. He talked about how his experiences influence his winemaking techniques. We had the opportunity to try the highest rated wine in Oregon, thus far, which was 98 points. This just shows how amazing and giving the wine industry can be. I feel extremely grateful for all of these experiences!
  I unfortunately could  not attend the last day where they met with David Milliman at Domain Drouhin, but I look forward to meeting Robert Drouhin while we are here in France.
  Being in Beaune is so surreal, and I look forward to the adventures and the learning that we will be experiencing while here.

Looking Back

It is the end of the second day in Beaune and I am struggling to not only get over the consequential jet-lag of such a long journey, but also to allow the reality of my actually being in France, of my staying in the heart of Burgundy to really sink in. Even the tour and tasting with winemaker Jacques Lardiere at Louis Jadot which started off my day seems eons ago, as was the wine sensations presentation given by Jordy at the University of Burgundy. As these scenes of a full day fleet back in the recesses of my memory nearly as quickly as the train that brought me here from Paris, even still I have had the opportunity to look back and begin to understand why the Oregon wine industry looks back to this beautiful place for a place of reference, heritage, and camaraderie.

Prior to leaving, I and my fellow interns had the opportunity to meet with essential figures in the Oregon wine industry who have helped establish relationships between us and the Burgundians. Perhaps most influential was the efforts made by David Adelsheim, who, shortly after planting his first vineyard in the early 1970s, felt it necessary to travel to Burgundy to help with a harvest to gain a better understanding of how to grow ad make wine. This initiated a series of ventures by Adelsheim that led to the establishments of relationship between Oregon and French winemakers, viticultural and enological imporvements, and paving the way that ultimately led the French to our soils and ignited what I dub as the French Invasion.

This "invasion" began with a bang when the large French negocion Domain Drouhin purchased vineyard land in the Dundee Hills in 1987, not without much subtle persuasion at the lips of Adelsheim. They made wines from the 1988 vintage and soon after Drouhin was building a winery and tasting room on their Oregon estate. David Hilman of Domaine Drouhin - Oregon asked my co-interns and me when we met with him would such an act, and more broadly, the exchange of winemakers between the two regions, influence our perception of the quality and story of Oregon wines? I knew historically, the move was a stamp of approval, so to speak, of the then barely borned Oregon wine industry. It spoke to the quality and potential of the wines being made in our great region. But further reflection and discussion  allowed me to see beyond the obvious and understand that this wasn't just a mere quality seal (I think the industry would have moved on (if only a bit more slowly) without it), but it was an exchange of ideas, a community built. It was moving beyond the superficial assessment that "Oregon as similar climate as Burgundy, therefore we must be able to grow the same wines" (two days here and I can already attest that these were very broad stroke statements), but rather learning from each other, how to manage vineyards sites or change winemaking techniques, etc. This would inevitably lead the way to more connections.

While certain winemakers in the Willamette Valley, such as Doug Tunnell and Josh Bergstrom, had since gone to Burgundy to study winemaking in one fashion or another, I think it was the release of Evening Land's first vintage in 2007 that further established the Oregon-French connection. Evening Land was initially conceived as making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California, Oregon, and France, respecting the terroire of each growing region. While the California and France programs have since been cut-off, it was clear duing our barrel-tasting that Ian Burch, the winemaker for Oregon wines, that Oregon arm based on Seven Springs Vineyard maintained a focus on this goal. But this also revealed Oregon as a willing and confident participant in the international wine community. Yes, we have maintained our friendship with the Burgundians, but have grown to better understand our soils, to know what decisions to make in a breadth of growings seasns, and how to make wines that really reflect what Oregon identifies itself to be. Oregon wine is no longer the meonic mess of a child between France and the Unversity of California - Davis, but rather have matured, albeit in record time, to engage a conversation that will ultimately give shape to our story.

And perhaps this was what Jacques was getting at when he talked about the inner parts of the grape as having the expression of the place, of the terroir, of where the vine is planted. Louis Jadot has finally gave in and purchased vineyards in Oregon. But if we look back, we see Jacques standing quietly in the background, observing and moving so cautiously before spearheading the project of purchasing the highly-regarded Resonance Vineyard. If we look back, we see the eyes of many Frenchman eyeing in curiosity what may become of our industry Well, we have fallen from the vine and have been harvested to bccome something greater. While we as an industry must never forget to look back, but we must keep our focus on a greater tommorrow. We must now look forward.

And I to sleep.

From Anglais to Français

The preparation for France was an important and enjoyable process. I found David Millman to be very informative and helpful regarding the regions of Burgundy, reading wine bottles, and highlighting the importance of the Drouhin influence in both Oregon and France. Looking at the maps of Burgundy really aided in my understanding of the red and white regions and the close proximity of vineyard plots. Sherry, Abigail, and Jaimie gave us a crucial French lesson the following  day. They outlined daily situations and armed us with the vocabulary to ease through a conversion with basic words and phrases. Whitney finished the week with an upbeat and friendly Skype introduction to the Burgundy region and an overview of the itinerary. I look forward to her arrival and meeting her in person.

Jan. Term Part 1: Oregon

   For the first few weeks of January term we spent time at several wineries exploring the connection that Oregon has with Burgundy. We first met with David Adelshein at Adelshein winery. He explained to us how he spent time in France and hosted French winemakers as well as protege winemakers. His talk was rich with Oregon's historical connection with France.
   Next we met with DDO and David Millman, who explained more about DDO's direct connection with France. He also explained briefly about some of the regions in France and how the labeling works on the wine bottles. The last Oregon vineyard we visited was Evening Land where we met with Ian Birch, a winemaker. He explained how Evening Land is consulted by a French renowned winemaker Dominique Lafon. He also let us taste the highest scoring Oregon wine as of yet, which was a good learning experience to see what experts call a "great" wine.
    Lastly we met with Linfield graduate Whiteny Schubert, who prepared us for our France immersion by briefing us on the history of the vineyards and how the system works there, along with location of the area in France. Overall the Oregon connection with France has proved to be very helpful while in France.

From Oregon to Burgundy

Before leaving for Burgundy, our group attended several sessions to learn more about the links between French wine and Oregonian wine.

Our first stop was at Adelsheim Vineyards, where we met with David Adelsheim himself.  He explained to us how the Oregon wine industry was inspired by Burgundy, its traditions, and its history.  As one of the first Oregon wineries, Adelsheim notes that a French training in various aspects of the wine industry were  instrumental to his current process.  He also explained to us how a bit more about the effects of the new wave of French interest in the industry, and how it gives Oregon a chance to flourish due to the marketing benefits.

Ian Birch, a winemaker at Eveningland/7 Springs was a pretty good example of the French influence on Oregon winemakers that David Adelsheim mentioned.  Drawing from his experience with Dominique Lafon, he told us how this experience had such a large influence on his methods today.  He then led us through a vineyard tour and a barrel tasting that included a Parker rating of 98, the highest in Oregon! (so far!)

David Millman at Domaine Drouhin Oregon and a Skype session with Whitney Schubert gave us a thorough run-through of the Burgundy region, spanning the five main areas: Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune (where we are staying), Côte Chalonnaise, the Maconnais region, and Chablis.  We found out more about the négociants we would be visiting, and about the people we would be meeting. 

Now in Beaune, I'm glad we had these sessions; they gave us enough information to get on our way!

The O(regon) in Terroir

Over the summer, eight Linfield students embarked on the study of Oregon wine. We spent the days studying soil samples, the story behind Oregon wine, food and wine pairing, and developing our wine palettes. During the fall, each of us participated in fall harvest to increase our knowledge and experience with Oregon wine making and culture. This January, the OWIE group embarked on a new adventure: we are in Beaune, France.

The first week of January was dedicated to looking at Oregon versus Burgundy. What are the similarities and differences? At Adelsheim, David touched on the climates between the two wine-growing regions. Burgundy and Oregon have relatively similar weather because we have close latitudes; however, there is much more rain in the winter and much more sun in the summer in Oregon than Burgundy. This means the grapes get blasted with sun during the summer in Oregon, whereas the Burgundy grapes don't get as much heat.

During our skype discussion with Whitney, we briefly discussed the soils in the two regions. Oregon has a mixture of marine and volcanic sediment whereas Burgundy has limestone, so those differences definitely affect the wines as well.

Lastly, the Oregon Wine Industry is much younger than the Burgundy Wine Industry. The French have been making wine for centuries (dating all the way back to when monks first began making it), and the Oregonians began thinking about wine making around 40 years ago.

That's all I have for tonight!