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Filtering by Tag: wahle vineyards

Wine & Culinary Travel, Artisan Oregon 2013

Beth Ribblett

Artisan Oregon,  Willamette Valley Winemaking Tour
October 9-13, 2013
Join Swirl Wines and James Moises of Bizou Wines for a unique, hands-on experience of small production, artisanal winemaking at its best!  We'll take you to the stunningly beautiful Pacific Northwest where the lush foothills of Oregon's Willamette Valley await.  Nestled between the Oregon Coast mountain range and the snow-capped Cascades, the many different terroirs and microclimates makes this one of the most distinctive places on earth for grape growing.

On this five day tour you will visit small, off the beaten path wineries and vineyards; meet, taste and dine with winemakers and witness one of the most exciting times of the year in wine country, the harvest!  You will get an exclusive, insiders look into what goes on behind the scenes as you'll have the opportunity to pick grapes, sort fruit and see many aspects of the grape harvest and early stages of production first hand.

                                 Sorry, This Trip is Full!

Falling in Love with Oregon, One Pinot at a Time...

Beth Ribblett

Picking grapes at the Wahle Family Vineyard in Yamhill

Oregon Pinot Noir has been slowly, subtly, seeping its way into my wine consciousness since I met James Moises in the summer of 2009.  Wrongfully lumping it into my not so favorite category of new world wines, it has always been lurking just a bit under the radar for me.  And even though our wine reps have been bringing me Oregon Pinots for years, it was my personal relationship with James that made me want to learn more about this place that was drawing him away from his lifelong medial career and home town of New Orleans to make wine.  Well I got all of my questions answered on our trip last month with him to the Willamette Valley.

The Holmes Hill Vineyard, a 310 acre site in the Eola Hills

Oregon is a special place, and while there are a handful of big money, fancy wineries in the area, the majority of the producers are small and passionately making artisan wine from tiny, individual plots of land that they are farming themselves or from carefully selected purchased fruit.  Take Mark Wahle, James' business partner, as an example.  His family planted the earliest commercial vines in 1974 on a hundred acre plot in Yamhill.  He and his mother Betty Wahle manage the vineyard from the tending of the vines, picking of the grapes, and maintaining long term contracts to sell fruit to other wineries, as well as using it for their own wines.  One foggy, rainy morning we assisted in the picking of 3 tons of grapes with Mark, Betty, James and one worker, that were being sold to Ponzi. They are the real deal; farmers and stewards of the land who put their heart and soul into those vines and it is hard work!

The Carlton Winemakers Studio

Mark and James both currently make their wine in an eco-friendly, recycled-material-using, cooperative winemaking facility where a bunch of top-notch Oregon winemakers all share equipment and resources.  The Carlton Winemakers Studio became a leader in "green" winemaking when they came LEED Certified,  Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, an internationally recognized green building certification system. There is a wonderful environmental awareness pulsing through Oregon wineries and an amazingly collaborative, friendly wine community.  Winemakers and owners talked freely about what wines they made and how they made them.

Biodynamic winemaker Patrick Reuter of Dominio IV

And then there are the wines themselves.  I have to admit, I thought I would get bored with drinking Pinot for 5 days straight, but I didn't, not in the least.  The wines are the the perfect blending of the old and new world; subtle, elegant, higher acidity levels but still with beautiful, intoxicating fruit.  The different vineyard sites and vintages offered such unique expressions of the grape that I just couldn't, and still can't, get enough.  And what a treat to be spending time with Mark and James who know all of the winemakers and vintages and selected the most beautiful examples of what Oregon produces for our drinking pleasure!
One of our favorites from the trip.
And most importantly, Oregon is a pretty fabulous place that makes fantastic wines without any pretense.  It's a place where quality over quantity is the rule, sustainability is a lifestyle and where visitors always feel welcome and the winemaker is never far away…

James pouring a taste of the 2012 Yamhill from the tank.
So I'm on a bit of an educational quest right now in terms of Oregon wines.  And part of that quest is involving the drinking of at least one 2008 Pinot per week until the 2008's are gone from the city.  Not that 2008 is the end all be all vintage, but I had to start somewhere!  Each week I'll be writing about the wine that I've chosen, sometimes they will be available for retail, but sometimes not like the Willakenzie I had the last bottle of last week...and yes the educational research is also for an upcoming customer trip that I am putting together for next year's harvest, but more on that later!

Last week we popped the 2008 Willakenzie Estate Pinot Noir Aliette and this week's victim was the 2008 Dominio IV The Black and the Red. Look for my posts on my 2008 Pinot Quests weekly on swirlandsavor.

Wine of the Moment, 2006 Moises Wahle Vineyards Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir

Beth Ribblett

Located 35 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, the Yamhill-Carlton District is a sub-appellation of Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley AVA. It is a horseshoe shaped appellation that surrounds the two communities from which it is named, Yamhill and Carlton, and is home to some of the finest Pinot Noir vineyards in the world.

Once primarily known for tree-fruit orchards, nurseries and livestock, wheat and logging, the area now known as the Yamhill-Carlton District has a relatively recent wine history. In 1974, pioneers like the Campbells and the Wahles were planting vines long before other areas of the North Willamette Valley. Other quickly followed suit and today it is known as one of the country's finest producers of cool-climate varietals and was officially established as an AVA in 2004.

The vineyards of the Yamhill-Carlton District were planted mostly in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The primary soil of this area is called Willakenzie, named after the Willamette and McKenzie rivers. It is comprised of coarse-grained, ancient marine sedimentary soils, over sandstone and siltstone, that drain quickly, making them ideal for viticulture. Grapes grown in this soil type often result in wines lower in acid than those made from grapes grown in other areas.

Yamhill-Carlton vineyards grow on sites with elevations between 200 and 1,000 feet, avoiding low valley frost and high elevation temperatures unsuitable for effective ripening. Geographically, this area is protected by the Coast Range to the west, the Chehalem Mountains to the north and the Dundee Hills to the east.

With the orientation of vineyards and unique soil conditions found in the AVA, the Yamhill Carlton District is a leading producer of concentrated, more lush styles of Oregon Pinot Noir. As with other Willamette Valley AVAs, only those vineyards falling within defined elevations (in this case between 200 and 1,000 feet) are permitted to use the AVA designation. This trend amongst the new Willamette Valley sub-appellations, such as the Yamhill Carlton District, only reaffirms Oregon as the leader of ‘terroir’ consciousness in North America.

The 2006 Moises Wahle Vineyards Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir is produced with wine sourced from the Wahle Family’s initial vineyard planting located in the heart of Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton District. Established in 1974, it is one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards planted in Willakenzie soil. The vineyard sits at 450' elevation and enjoys a beautiful southern exposure.

The wine was aged 11 months in French oak and another year and 9 months in the bottle. It has aromas of red and black fruits, with added elements of herbs, cloves and fresh-turned earth. On the palate, cherry and cassis dominate with herbal notes and continued spiced undertones. The lower acidity level brings a lush mouth feel and makes the Yamhill Carlton approachable young. Less than 100 cases produced.
Retail Price: $39.99

This wine is one of the gems we'll be tasting with Dr. James Moises at his launch party on August 15 from 6 to 9pm at Swirl. This is a "don't miss" event for anyone interested in tasting high quality, small production Oregon Pinot from a native New Orleanian. For more information on James and his wines, check out my blog post, Moises Wines, Driven by Passion, Heart and Healing.

Moises Wines; Driven by Passion, Heart and Healing

Beth Ribblett

Born and raised in New Orleans, Jesuit and LSU graduate, ER doctor and professor, Dr. James Moises is a busy man. Somehow between working in the ERs of both Tulane and Baptist, and teaching, he is finding time to follow his other passion, making wine. And not just any wine, we’re talking very small production, serious Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley made with sustainable vineyard practices and minimalist intervention in winemaking.

When asked about his leap into the world of wine, James credits his good friend and colleague Mark Wahle of Mark Wahle Vineyards. Residents together at LSU in the 90’s, Mark gained his wine knowledge through UC Davis where he completed his Viticulture & Enology studies in 1988, and his hands on experience in his family’s 100 acre hilltop vineyard site outside of Yamhill, Oregon. Traveling extensively with Mark through Europe, California and Oregon, James discovered his love of wine and decided he wanted to take the plunge into the challenging world of Oregon Pinot.

In 2002 James bought 40 acres of land in the Eola Hills area of Oregon, where Mark was also planting vines. Named the 'Holmes Hill' vineyard (pictured left) after the original homesteader of the property, James and his closest friends and family including our friend and neighbor Bob McGuire, pounded the posts and planted the vines themselves. Controlling the process from start to finish, both he and Mark use a very hands-on approach to both the viticultural and winemaking practices. Incorporating sustainable vineyard practices is a priority. From using dry farming techniques (no irrigation), no herbicides, hand harvesting and sorting to the production of the wine in the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio, the first winery to be registered with the U.S. Green Building Council, these guys are serious about what they do and how they do it. Already planning expansion, they are currently building their new winemaking facilities in the Holmes Hill area (pictured right) and would like to expand to 150 planted acres in the next 2-3 years which would put them in the top five in terms of largest vineyard land holdings in Oregon.

James’ first vintage release was in 2006, producing an old vine Pinot with fruit from Mark’s original family plot that was planted in 1974, and a Holmes Hill Pinot from the recently planted 40 acre site. Total production was only 150 cases in 2006 and in 2007. With the release of the Vieux Carre, a blend of the old vine Yamhill Carlton and the Holmes Hill fruit, production will increase to 300 cases.

The health benefits of red wine fit in with James’ other passion in life, practicing medicine. His affinity for Pinot Noir is supported with the related medical research, as James says “Studies have shown the Pinot Noir grape contains the highest levels of the super antioxidant resveratrol”. In fact, Cornell researcher Leroy Creasy found the highest resveratrol levels in pinot noir grapes that are grown in cooler, rainy places like the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and Oregon's Willamette Valley. Long sown in France's cool Burgundy region, pinot noir is considered a finicky grape to grow, in part because it is susceptible to rot which may be the reason it produces more resveratrol than other grapes--up to 40 times as much resveratrol as grapes such as merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

While Mark is the winemaker, James is there every step of the way, involved from planting to bottling and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He loves the creative process involved in “taking this cluster of fruit and producing something really special that will bring enjoyment to others.” And he’d like you to experience that enjoyment first hand by attending his release party on August 15! “I’m really excited about this launch as everyone who has listened to me talk about this project for the last 6-7 years will finally get to taste my wines!”

So please join us on Saturday, August 15 from 6 to 9pm as Dr. James Moises will be popping corks on his amazing 2006 and 2007 Yamhill Carlton Old Vine, 2006 and 2007 Holmes Hill and the 2007 Vieux Carre, as we celebrate his début as a serious player in the world of Oregon Pinots!