Oregon Originals – Success with Biodynamics

As a participant of this year’s Wine Media Conference I signed up for a sponsored tasting from the Oregon Wine Board featuring the 2019 Troon Vineyard’s Kubli Bench Amber and Winderlea’s 2017 Imprint Pinot Noir. My next door neighbour – Christine, owner of @foodieamor also stopped by for a sip!

Craig Camp, Troon’s General Manager gave us an interesting background of the vineyard. Since 2016, the winery is using biodynamic processes that have brought back health to the soil and the vines. They have replanted the entire vineyard – no small feat, and used the expertise of Jason Cole a master viticulturalist.

The distinction of being biodynamic  – it’s farming that includes the vineyard within an ecosystem, and considers  astrological influences and lunar cycles. The vineyard is minimally dependent on imported materials and uses most of what it needs from the farm.  Troon is lucky to be located next door to a dairy farm, where they put 200 tons of compost to good use every year.

This winery is located in the Applegate Valley between San Francisco and Portland where it’s warmer and drier.  The Vineyard has 1400 feet elevation with a shorter growing season, and 70 minutes more sunshine. The Kubli Bench is a small plateau over the Applegate River. This is a warmer section of the Applegate, which makes an orange wine an ideal candidate for production. Warm days and cool nights leads to a natural ripeness and acidity.

These wines are often called orange wines, and Troon named this an amber wine as they are called in the Republic of Georgia. The white wine grape skins are fermented resulting in this colour.  This wine is a blend of 74% Riesling, 16% Vermentino, and 10 % Viognier. This wine was very aromatic – as soon as I uncorked it, I could smell stone fruit, such as peach and apricot with a floral undertone. It tasted fruity and vibrant, and very fresh with a lingering finish. My neighbour who is a home chef and I thought the Amber wine would pair well with sushi, pasta primavera, and carbonara. We also thought it would be interesting with a peach cobbler – fruity and tart. I would also serve this wine as a refreshing aperatif.

We then moved on to the 2017 Winderlea Imprint Pinot Noir. This vineyard is located in the Dundee Hills area within the Willamette Valley. Bill Sweat and Donna Morris, owners of Winderlea loved Pinot Noir so much that they moved cross country from Boston, and decided that their second career would involve wine.

This couple purchased Winderlea in 2006. In response to a spread of phylloxera (root louse disease) to the 1970’s vines, they converted the farming from organic to Biodynamic®.  The desire to move to a biodynamic process was similar to Troon’s approach – to have healthier vines and healthy soils.

Bill Sweat made this wine in his Winerette – the only wine made onsite in his garage, powered by a garden hose! What’s different about this Pinot Noir is that he kept whole cluster grapes versus destemming the grapes which is what’s typical in that area. He fermented it in a Tuscan Amphora that needed to be kept sealed until fermentation was complete. He admitted it was hard not to peek!

The name Imprint was devised from Bill’s desire to continue the legacy of the 1974 vineyards and add his own ‘imprint’.

I found this wine to be ruby coloured, very aromatic with bright red fruits. I tasted blackberry, and tart cherry with an earthy quality. I would pair this wine with a cheese plate featuring some stilton. This wine would also go well with a mushroom risotto and salmon.