As the end of another school year comes about, it is difficult to believe that I have been in this internship for a year now. It has really been quite the journey--aside from changes and growth in my own personal life, my academic and professionals lives have developed into a place where I have much to hope for and look forward to. This internship was the incentive for me to return to my academic career and I have much to be thankful for because of it. Though I have decided to transfer due to changes in academic goals and a fatigue in commuting, I will still look back at this chapter as an epitomes moment in my adult life.
Perhaps, too, this is the best description of my research on Oregon chardonnay--a moment, a chapter, something still to be written. After talking to over 30 winemakers, vineyard managers, sommeliers, and winery owners, after researching articles on the sensory sciences, vineyard management, and historical reviews, and even holding my own tasting to discern anything concrete on the matter, my results are this: inconclusive. And I hope this an acceptable answer to the question, "What is Oregon chardonnay?"
It is a developing sector of the industry--in its infancy, really. Though I can procure 50 years worth of information on the subject, it is really only in the last 5 years that a significant amount of attention has been given to this part of the industry. So how could I come up with a definite answer to such an ambiguous question? Indeed, I admit to a naivety on my part--perhaps even an over-confidence that is quite unattractive for a rookie. I've been humbled--I've come to believe that I really don't know that much on the subject, or at least anymore than anyone else. And I question what else I could have done, what other questions should I have asked?
Thus, for my presentation I will ask those questions, but only as a way to outline the question and ultimately help us understand and define such a fascinating category. It is a question, a conversation that will take a couple of generations for us to understand and have a better grasp at, but the least I can do is provide a foundation for it and things to think about--things a consumer will ask. There is a much to learn on the subject, which is a good thing.
Perhaps Oregon chardonnay is not so much inconclusive--perhaps it is yet to be made.