Wine Consumer


Another Vintage Year for Oregon Wine, Shellie Croft

(09/30/2013 - Originally published at

Lots of people in the wine world use words to describe wine and all things related to wine. Sometimes they're silly, other times the terms really pinpoint the aromas and textures, tastes and colors perfectly.

Sunday afternoon, as my family was returning from a little lunch and shopping in town, to our beloved vintage Airstream parked at the winery, my wine making husband and his trusty assistant (me) were tuned into a podcast radio blog interview with Jean-Claude Boisset, owner of Boisset Family Estate wines in California.

Jean-Claude added another something to this world of wine descriptors that I thought was spot on--Emotion.

Emotional descriptors for wine like; sexy, voluptuous, full-bodied, dreamy, legs, etc., were not Boisset's words.  Nope, they were words expressed by two women visitors he had chatted with in one of his winery's tasting rooms in Napa.  

Boisset, being French, of course had to throw in the word "terroir" adding in the, "a sense of place". This term, defines the soil, weather, climate and how the vingneron or winegrower, cultivates plant and soil with his or her hands, heart and mind.

While my Bryan and I were pulling on our work gear, and after he opened up the building to blow out the CO2, for our safety, before would begin the punch downs and track fermentations for the lots of fruit we do have in, my other gears started turning in my mind.  

Boisset's thoughtful, passion-filled (for the United States wine industry mind you) terms, got me thinking about what I had said to the super nice checker at Trader Joe's just moments before, when he asked us if we were liking this record breaking September rain we're experiencing here in the Pacific Northwest.

My husband, Bryan, the reserved one in this couple, pulled back behind me when I responded, "We're in the Oregon wine industry, so, no...not so much."

To which he replied, "OH! god I'm really sorry for you!"  

Friendly checker had an understanding of our lack of love for the precipitation.  

He shared with us that he had worked for The McMenamins company in the brewery out at the Edgefield property --(by the way, one of our family's all time favorite, unique spots to visit for all that it is): .  This company also makes wine at this facility in Troutdale, OR.  Friendly checker guy knew what August and September/October meant to the winemaker there, in terms of weather, so this is why we had his sympathy.

Ever hopeful as a person, and fascinated as a writer-person, by words am I,  I said, "Yes, but you know what this will be for Oregon?"  "It will be a true vintage."
"Vintage", as define by Webster's dictionary...

Definition: vintage

Part of Speech Definition
Noun 1. A season's yield of wine from a vineyard.[Wordnet
2. The oldness of wines.[Wordnet
3. The produce of the vine for one season, in grapes or in wine; as, the vintage is abundant; the vintage of 1840.[Websters
4. The act or time of gathering the crop of grapes, or making the wine for a season.[Websters].
Adjective 1. Being antique, ancient, old, olden or antiquarian. [Eve - graph theoretic]
2. Being antiquated, outdated or obsolete. [Eve - graph theoretic]
3. Being classical or classic. [Eve - graph theoretic]
4. Being late or defunct. [Eve - graph theoretic]
5. Being longstanding or elderly. [Eve - graph theoretic]
6. Being past or previous. [Eve - graph theoretic]
7. Being superior or superlative. [Eve - graph theoretic]
8. Being mature or ripe. [Eve - graph theoretic]
9. Being fine or excellent. [Eve - graph theoretic]
10. Being raw, crude, unprocessed, unrefined or uncooked.[Eve - graph theoretic]
This about sums things up for our wine producing region, I'd say.  And then some more, depending on "the vintage".  
Certainly, to me, this beautiful world of wine is endlessly interesting and multi-facetted. 
What lunacy then, is it, that keeps my husband and me here, doing this hard and sticky vineyard and wine work?  Why not just stay where I started, in hospitality as a tour guide and party planner? 

 I've written about it time and's WILD here in Oregon and we are, as clearly described by author, Marq DeVille, in his book, this generation's winemaking, "Wild Bunch".  
We love the challenges, obviously.  If we didn't we wouldn't be here.  Also, the rewards can be sublime, a (nearly) indescribable pleasure for the senses when Pinot Noir is born. Patrick Matthews more than alludes to this experience in his book "Heartbreak Grape".


Nope, she's not like a great Beringer Cabernet or marvelous Shafer Merlot or any deeply impressive Bordeaux variety.  My palate knows Pinot Noir is not like any other grape or wine.  

Oregon Pinot Noir, by virtue or curse of where it's grown, is only exactly a reflection of its seasons from winter's pruning, spring bud break, bloom, growing summer period, harvest and stewardship in the winery to barrel and bottle, then to a welcoming table.

Palate to palate the Pinot will be judged.  Some will enjoy, some will prefer something else.  Given a fair and interested palate, paired with a curious mind about this wild and untamable varietal however, we just might find that Oregon, with its true vintages, may not only delight and enrapture, but educate our taste buds and lighten our spirit.

I LIKE it!

While I thoroughly appreciate and enjoy the "old standby" wines we regularly purchase from Trader Joe's, and when I occasionally splurge on my alma matre Napa Valley cabernets, merlots and am treated to other regions *vinicultural triumphs, the promise of something my husband and our crazy northwest, wine crafting brothers and sisters created out of our Oregon grapes, well now, that really gets me wild.  

What will this challenging vintage be like?  Of course I don't know.  I have always loved tasty surprises, though.  It's the challenge of the truly untamable, unruly and in moments unknowable world of grape growing and winemaking that make this particular lifestyle so much fun.

Thanks for sharing this ride with me and until next you're here, I wish you deliciously interesting days while we tackle vintage 2013 in the vineyard, on the crush pad and in the cellar.



*This word is Trade Marked by Boisset.  Seriously:)