The Vintage with No Bird and No Cannons

October 2, 2014

October 2, 2014 by Donna

Winderlea winery & vineyards, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Harvest is nearly complete at Winderlea. With our earliest start on record (September 11th) we picked all of the Winderlea estate vineyard by Friday, September 19th. The only fruit that came in ahead of our estate vineyard was the Shea Vineyard block which we harvested on Sunday, September 14th. The remainder of our Dundee Hills AVA sites (Weber, Juliard, Maresh and Black Walnut) were picked between between September 21st and 29th. Our cooler sites (Meredith Mitchell and Crawford Beck vineyards) happily hung fruit through the 1st of October.

We had a pleasant Chardonnay surprise on the Winderlea vineyard this year. We’ve most likely told you that the 2 oldest blocks, planted in ‘74 and ‘76, were originally Chardonnay and grafted over to Pinot noir. Well, due to some poor cane selection during pruning over the years, many more Chardonnay canes have been reestablished. In fact, after doing a vine count we concluded that we might have enough Chardonnay to produce a barrel of estate Chardonnay from the the “Legacy” blocks. We did pick the Chardonnay separately and it is currently fermenting away on its own. For you Winderlea Chardonnay fans, this could be something special and we will keep you posted.

In summary, all of the fruit is pristine and plentiful and we are excited about the prospects for a truly wonderful 2014 vintage.

2012 Open That Bottle Night at Winderlea

March 13, 2012

Open That Bottle Night – 2012

“Oh What a Night….”
Once again, the last Saturday in February, Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) proved to be one of the most memorable nights of the year. A change in venue to the Portland Art Museum proved a delightful way to start the evening. Guests were treated to a private tour of the newly opened Rothko Exhibit before settling in for a night of memories, sharing and tasting some truly remarkable wines.

2012 was the first year where no wines were flawed. There was not a corked or bad wine among the 26 bottles opened; a first in our history of the event. Quite an accomplishment considering one of our guests shared a 1927 Rivesaltes Domaine Bory dessert wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon. We are happy to report that a 1967 Bertani Amarone was still young and alive and a 1978 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon blew us all away. And it wasn’t just the old wines that surprised and delighted us. Everyone chose well those younger wines they brought to share including a 2006 Leonetti Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon; a 2006 Panther Creek Cellars Freedom Hill Vineyard Magnum; a 2007 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Magnum and a powerful yet elegant 2009 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.

Before we share the stories, let us share all of the wines that were opened.

1927 Rivesaltes Domaine Bory
1978 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
1967 Bertani Amarone
1978 Diamond Creek, Volcanic Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon
1979 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
1987 Elk Cove, Dundee Hills Vineyard, Pinot noir
1988 Rex Hill, Archibald Vineyard, Pinot noir
1989 Stags’ Leap Petite Syrah
1990 Rombauer Vineyards, Napa Valley, Cabernet Franc
1995 Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Camp Gros Martinengo
2000 Stags’ Leap, Estate Grown Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon
2000 St Aubin Premier Cru, En remilly
2001 Ken Wright, Meredith-Mitchell Vineyard, Pinot noir
2001 Domaine Des Relagnes Chateauneuf du Pape
2002 Lemelson Vineyards, Theo Selection, Pinot noir
2003 Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo
2005 Duckhorn, Patzimaro Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Rombauer, Fiddletown, Zinfandel
2006 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Panther Creek, Freedom Hill, Pinot noir (Magnum)
2006 Chateau St. Jean, Eighty Five-Fifty Five, Red Wine
2006 Black Cap Pinot noir
2007 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon (Magnum)
2007 Stoller, SV, Pinot noir
2009 Descendientes de Jose Palacios “Petalos de Bierzo” Bierzo
2009 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon

If you haven’t experienced OTBN with us, let me tell you what we do. The owner of each wine takes the wine to their table of 6 to 8 guests. Throughout dinner, each bottle is opened and the wine and the story of the wine is shared by its owner. Each table decides on the most compelling story behind the wine, and the owner of that wine is asked to share their story with all of our guests. The teller of the most compelling “table” story receives a bottle of Winderlea Pinot noir and the teller of the most compelling story overall receives a Magnum of Winderlea Pinot noir.

The story telling gets more interesting as the night progresses. We are very specific that the story must be compelling, we do not have fact checkers establishing the minute accuracy of each account!

Let me share the 6 most compelling table stories with you.

We start with the providence of the 1978 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. This bottle was shared by Jason Moore and Minami Yamaguchi. Jason is a professional musician and guitar teacher. Jason took on the responsibility of providing guitar lessons to a talented youth whose father did not have the financial means to pay for his son’s lessons in cash. The Dad, who no longer drinks, learned of Jason’s love of fine wine and offered to exchange Jason his last “treasured bottle” of 1978 Diamond Creek for his son’s lessons. We all agreed, it was a wonderful exchange.

Susan Meredith and Frank Mitchell shared the last bottle, they ever plan to open of the couple they have remaining, of their 2001 Ken Wright Cellars, Meredith Mitchell Vineyards, Pinot noir. Susan and Frank are the owners of the famed Meredith-Mitchell Vineyard which they still personally farm. The 2001 Ken Wright Cellars they opened is the first commercial vineyard designated wine produced from their vineyard. Everything they had worked so hard for in the years since they purchased the vineyard in 1990, rested on the success of this one wine. It was a smashing success then, upon its release, and it is still just stunning.

Reid Oliver, Winderlea’s Tasting Room Manager had the most compelling story at his table and this is what he shared with us about the 2006 Leonetti Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. Reid started collecting wine in college (only a few years back), spending most of his paychecks on wine at the Bellevue Market in McMinnville. He and his now fiancée, Suzanne, built a fine cellar of about 100 cherished bottles. During the summer of 2010 – on a warm summer night when he left street level windows to his house open – bandits entered, snuck into his basement cellar and walked off with the bulk of their treasured collection. Somehow, they left behind this very fine bottle of Leonetti – which proudly demonstrated the quality of what Reid and Suzanne had collected over the years. The wine was sublime – but the story comes with valuable lessons for all of us collectors. First, know what is in your cellar. Reid and Suzanne had not kept an electronic inventory of their wines. They now keep everything on Cellar Tracker. But the real lesson for all of us is to “drink the good ones more frequently.” Thank you Reid and Suzanne for the wine and for the lessons.

Sam Sirkin, a classmate of Bill’s from Bates College, and his wife Erin shared the gorgeous 2003 Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo they seemingly smuggled out of Italy. It seems Luigi Einaudi’s son Luigi was Sam’s neighbor in Washington, DC in the 70s. Sam, Erin and their two young sons visited Luigi Jr on his family estate and purchased the bottle there in 2007. Sam shared that Luigi Einaudi Sr. was the first president of Italy after WWII and the first President of the Republic of Italy. His son, Luigi Jr, was the US Ambassador to the Organization of the American States. This family represents the Patricians of Dolgiani and their home estate one of the grandest. What made us all giggle was the way this very grand wine was transported out of Italy. It was unceremoniously wrapped in dirty laundry and tucked into their young son’s back- pack for its journey to America – and to our very thankful glasses on OTBN.

Jeanne and David Beck (and owners of the Crawford-Beck Vineyard) shared a 1995 Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Camp Gros Martinengo with us at OTBN. It is a wonderful story that begins when David and Jeanne felt compelled to accompany their daughter and new husband on their honeymoon to Piedmont Italy in 1999. Their daughter married a chef and they spent leisurely days having cooking lessons in the morning – tasting sessions in the afternoon – and then a pairing of both for dinner. Their most memorable day of the “honeymoon” was July 3rd 1999 spending the morning learning to make agnolotti and the afternoon having the amazing good fortune of visiting Marchesi de Gresy and spending the afternoon with their New Zealand winemaker who provided them with a private tasting through the cellar. The pairing of the ’95 Barbaresco with the angolotti was a highlight of the trip. The bottle of wine shared by the Beck’s brings back the happiest moments of a legendary trip.

And finally, Liane and Rich Cabot who brought a cherished 2001 Domaine Des Relagnes Chateauneuf du Pape purchased on their honeymoon as they traveled throughout Europe shared the story that brought the house down. The details of the telling were marvelous as they squirreled bottle after bottle away in luggage and carriers as they made their way from country to country, past border guards and sentries and secretly accumulated and safely transported 2 cases of wine back into the US only to have a porter at Newark Airport drop a piece of their cargo with their precious possessions – leaving them this 1 bottle of wine. Tears of laughter, joy and sorrow were shed by us all, along with many thanks for sharing this most special bottle with those of us at OTBN.

So, there you have it. Open That Bottle Night 2012 was a magnificent evening of food, wine, storytelling and friendship. In case you’re wondering what we poured from Winderlea – we introduced some of our 2010 vintage, including our:
2010 Winderlea Chardonnay
2010 Winderlea Vineyard Pinot noir
2010 Winderlea Legacy Pinot noir
and from the Winderlea Library
1987 Elk Cove “Dundee Hills Vineyard” Pinot noir
1988 Rex Hill “Archibald” Pinot noir

We hope these bottles will become part of your stories one day.

Until next February 23rd, 2013, always remember to “drink the good ones more frequently.”

Your hosts,
Bill & Donna

Open That Bottle Night 2010

March 6, 2010

This has become one of our favorite nights of the year. Seriously, we think it should be made a national holiday. If you’re a wine lover, what could be better than getting together with some of your favorite people, having a great meal, and sharing some amazing wines? Nothing, right?

Most of you who know us also know about Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). It was started in 2000 by the wine writers for the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher (for an interview with Dottie and John on the origins and evolution of OTBN follow this link In short, they learned that people were holding wine that had become so dear to them that it was almost impossible to find a reason special enought to drink it. So, they created a night, originally in September, now held the last Saturday in February, designated as the night to open whatever bottle of wine you can never seem to find a reason to drink.

Donna and I have celebrated many (if not all) of these over the years, with family and friends. We knew that when we started our own winery, OTBN would become one of our flagship event. On Saturday, February 27th, we held our third annual Open That Bottle Night for Winderlea. It was an amazing night with temperatures in the high fifties with blue skies, cherry trees and daffodils in bloom, and, when the sun went down, a full moon (known as The Hunger Moon according to our friend, David Beck). It was glorious (note to all our east coast friends – this is Oregon winter).

We had a delicious four course meal created by chef Jason Stoller Smith of the Dundee Bistro (Jason does his thing at the Bistro, a wine country institution, but he really shows his creativity at private wine dinners). Sadly, Jason’s grandmother passed away and he had to go to Utah, but his sous chef of nine years, Chris Flanagan, executed his plan perfectly. The food and the service were wonderful. The menu and wine pairings are below.

We use OTBN as an opportunity to pour our new vintage each year and it’s a treat for us to do so, but honestly, the fun really begins once our guests start opening the wines they’ve brought. This year they really outdid themselves and shared some stunning wines. The list is below.

Donna did a fantastic job as MC and really kept the festivities moving. Ingeniously creating some competition with prizes, she actually managed to get all the guests to write down their stories for us. Each table selected their best story and the winners shared the tale of their precious wine with the room. The grand prize winner, and recipient of a magnum of the 2007 Winderlea Vineyard (Estate) Pinot noir, were Jim and Karen Halliday. Jim is a gifted story teller who told a wonderfully romantic story about the wine he and Karen brought with them.

Our winemaker, Robert Brittan, generously agreed to talk about the 2008 vintage and our wines. Given the high percentage of wine geeks in the room, this was a real treat. Robert is not only one of the most knowledgable winemakers/viticulturalists you’ll ever meet but he’s also very eloquent and charming. I love our wines but I always appreciate them even more after listening to Robert talk about them. I think you all know this, but if you don’t, Robert has his own label, Brittan Vineyards, and his estate wines are gorgeous (Robert produces two wines each vintage and Portland Monthly Magazine put them both in the top thirty in Oregon this past year – out of more then 600 tasted).

OK, so here’s the list of wines people brought in order of their arrival:

2000 Rene Leclerc Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques
1995 Caymus Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 St Innocent Shea Vineyard Pinot noir
1946 Albert Pochon Hospice de Beaune Cuvee Guigone de Salins
1989 Elk Cove Vineyards Dundee Hills Vineyards Pinot noir (original name of Winderlea)
2005 Fidelitas Optu Red Wine Columbia Valley
1994 Stags’ Leap Winery Merlot
1991 Quichotte Cabernet Sauvignon
2003 Chateau de la Gardine Chateauneuf du Pape
1961 Lynch Bages Grand Cru Classe Pauillac Medoc
1996 Stags’ Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
1995 Cascina Bongiovanni Barolo Pernanno
1999 Cristom Louise Pinot noir
2005 Sedouce Harris Bridge Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot nori dessert wine
2005 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley
1993 Hafner Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
2006 Cobos Bramare Malbec Lujon de Cuyo
2002 Cakebread Rubaiyat Red Wine
2004 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District
2004 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits Saint Georges La Perriere (white pinot noir)

Not a bad list, eh?

And here is the menu created by chef Jason Stoller Smith and brilliantly prepared by chef Chris Flanagan.
Chilled Curried Onion Veloute with Pink Lady Apples
Smoked Trout with Radishes in Crispy Parmigiano Cup
Golden Beet Tapenade Crouton with Fra Mani Salametto
Paired with 2008 Winderlea Chardonnay

1st Course
Applewood Bacon Wrapped Sturgeon with Razor & Manilla Clams,
Tomato Broth, Fingerling Potatoes, and Crispy Fried Onions
Paired with 2008 Winderlea Ana Pinot noir

Pinot noir Braised Short Rib with Torchon of Foie Gras,
Parsnip Puree, Braised Celery, truffle Bordelaise, Gremolata
Paired with 2008 Winderlea Vineyard Pinot noir

Cheese Course
Ancient Heritage Dairy “Adelle” Oregon Sheeps Milk Cheese
5 Years Aged Prosciutto Riserva
Pickled Mustard Seed Grisini
Paired with 2008 Winderlea Dundee Hills Vineyards Pinot noir

Truffles & Coffee

Thank you so much to our incredible guests. The wine was astonishing, the food exquisite, but it’s the people that make the party.

Please click on Winderlea to become a Facebook fan and to see more images.

2007 Autumn Harvest Journal

March 3, 2008

Harvest started a little sooner than we expected. After a relatively cool and nearly perfect growing season we were anticipating harvest to start sometime during the first week of October. Until the weather forecasts of rain…rain…rain starting Sunday, September 30th hit. So, the last week of September was a hectic one in the vineyard and the winery. We sampled all of our fruit to determine what – if anything – was ready to be picked. We determined that blocks 10 and 11, our 2 newest blocks planted to Pommard and block 13 planted to Dijon clone 114 were ready. We picked those blocks on Saturday the 29th – at 11 AM –about 8 hours before the rains came in. And did it come – Sunday was a wash out – but thankfully Monday and Tuesday (the 1st and 2nd) were relatively mild with some spotty showers throughout the day and winds of 8-10 mph – just enough to blow away the rain and dry the fruit.

And then we waited…and waited and hoped the fruit would survive the two weeks of wet weather. We were lucky – yes, it did rain each day – but not the torrential rains we feared. From the 29th of September until the 12th of October there were showers each day – but also sun breaks and relatively mild temperatures in the high 50s to mid 60s. The fruit held up extremely well and we harvested and crushed our Pinot noir from the 13th until the 16th. It was all cold soaked and fermented in some 6 stainless steel tanks, 12 macrobins and 2 of the most beautiful French Taransaud wooden fermenters on earth (pictures and more on those fermenters later).

Due to the compressed time frame we had some pretty long days – in the vineyards at 7AM at the break of dawn and shutting down and cleaning up the winery at 3AM the following day. We repeated this process 3 times during the 2007 harvest and our winemaker Robert Brittan tells us we shouldn’t experience anything any tougher with future harvests. Let’s hope he’s right!

Thank goodness we had lots of help this year from family and friends. We could not have done it without all of them. On our first day of crush we were helped by our friends Grae Joor, Paul Sehdev and Mike Wakefield. They did a fabulous job helping us get all of the kinks out of the process as we started our 2007 crush. They were quite effective in helping us process about 4 tons of fruit one afternoon and evening.

The next wave of volunteers arrived and were indispensable from the 13th through 16th and they included our accountant and her husband Betsy and Mike Longacre; our architect Ernie Munch; friends Anita Singh and Leo Jacobs and fellow vineyard owners Jeanne and David Beck. Special thanks to Anita who came to work even after she was rear ended in her car on the way to the winery and was suffering the early effects of whip lash and Jeanne Beck who worked tirelessly on her crutches as she recovers from a broken ankle. And our special volunteer guests this season were my Mom – Joan Morris and my aunt – Ginny Stevens. Mom and Ginny flew in from Boston and worked as our guest chefs as well as on the sorting table.

And then there was the night crew – those who worked late into the night and early morning – Robert, Ellen, Becky and Tom – and of course the professionals Macario and Alberto. Bill and I can’t thank you each enough.

Introducing The Wines of 2007

Those of you who stay close to the wine writers et al – may have already started to hear about the “woes of the Oregon 2007” vintage. We were just days from calling 2007 a near classic growing vintage – those “few days” being the operative words. You see – just a few more days of sun and warm weather the last week of September was what we needed for a near perfect growing season. Instead – it rained. So – we played the odds, as did most of our neighbors, and picked our ripest fruit before the rains so we would have something for 2007. The rest we kept hanging and hoped for the best. In the end, it worked out – the fruit we picked in mid-October ripened further and held up well under the weather conditions. We picked healthy fruit – with lower brix than 2006. We were happy with this outcome as our goal is to produce wine with alcohols of 14% or less. We didn’t achieve that goal in ’06 – but we expect to in ’07.

We also found the color profile of the young 2007 wines to be just beautiful – clear, brilliant and deeper than our young 2006 wines. The flavor profile also seems to be maturing faster. Fermentation was less stressful – we struggled with some stuck fermentations in 2006 – but the 2007s are fermenting to plan. In summary – we LOVE what we’re seeing and tasting to date in the 2007 vintage. They seem to be building towards the wines we strive to produce – feminine and elegant Pinot noir.

We’re expanding our portfolio for 2007 – and adding Chardonnay. Our love of Burgundy and its two great grapes (Pinot noir and Chardonnay) has led us to explore Chardonnay in Oregon. We’ve identified two wonderful vineyards with older Chardonnay nearby. They are the Carabella and Hyland vineyards. To read more about these vineyards and get a peek at them – check out the Vineyard tab on the site.

Here is a breakdown of the wines by lot. Many of you have told me you liked tracking what happened with the lots from journal to journal. So – here goes. You will notice we have more lots this year – in fact twice as many. Our production is more than doubling in 2007 from about 600 cases to up to 1500 including our Chardonnay.

2007 Spring/Summer Vintage Journal

March 3, 2008

Weather around Winderlea

We are happy to report that the weather has been rather unremarkable this spring and early summer. March and April saw highs in the mid to upper 50s and nighttime lows in the upper 30s to mid 40s. These slightly higher than average temperatures and precipitation made for a rather stress free early spring in the vineyard. May followed with continued slightly higher than normal temperatures and moderately drier conditions, while June cooled down considerably. As July comes to a close we experienced a heat spike earlier in the month and some unusual rain mid month. In terms of heat accumulation, at 1195 degree days through the 26th, this year is looking similar to 2002 with 1218 degree days. 2002 is considered to have been an exceptional vintage, though a lot can happen between now and harvest.

The Vineyard

As reported in our Winter Journal we are evolving practices in the vineyard and using more and more organic methods. During the first week of May, we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with “Amigo” Bob Cantisano one of the foremost organic farm consultants on the West Coast. Called the “Eco-Oracle,” by The Wine Spectator – Amigo walked our vineyard with us and identified a number of new practices that could help us improve the “tilth” of our property overall and address a small patch of phylloxera in one of our old own rooted vineyard blocks.

Working with our vineyard manager, Andy Humphrey – also a long time supporter of Amigo – we developed a new spray program for the property eliminating the remaining sulfur sprays and replacing them with a variety of organic sprays to address any potential fungal, mildew or botrytis threats. In addition to revising our spray program we also determined a cover crop during the growing season will provide more organic matter to the benefit of the vineyard as well as providing a home to beneficial insects. This cover crop is made up of a specially prepared combination of 26 flowers and herbs including buckwheat, phacelia, bachelor buttons, baby’s breath, California poppy, coriander, primrose, parsley, dill and cilantro. The spring/summer cover crop does give the vineyard a different look. In the past, the vineyard was clean cultivated during the summer – leaving each row cleared of any vegetation. Now, when you drive by or walk through the vineyard you will note that every other row has a lovely and beneficial cover of herbs and flowers.

Oh – and in case you missed this story in your May/June 2007 subscription of Vineyard and Winery Management – our Goldschmidt vineyard was rated one of the 10 best Oregon Vineyards. We couldn’t be prouder!

Bud Break and Bloom

The spring and summer have been so exciting for us as we watch the vines grow, before our very eyes, for the first time. Two dates that are very important in the growing cycle of the vineyard are bud break and bloom. Bud break marks the emergence of the shoots that will grow to bear grapes. Bloom, which lasts for about 7 to 10 days, starts when the flower cap falls away and ends when the flowers successfully self-pollinate. With luck they will “set” and continue to develop into full-grown grapes. We called bud break on Friday, April 6th – (Good Friday), and bloom on Thursday, June 7th. Based on this rather early bloom date – we would expect to start harvesting on September 15th – 100 days after bloom. For any of you who may be interested in spending some time with us over crush – keep this date in mind.

Barrel Tasting and Blending

The tough work really started in early May with days of exacting barrel tasting in order to start making decisions about blending. If you’ve been following our vintage notes this year, you will recall that we picked 6 distinct lots of fruit and have them aging in 25 barrels. We are using a large selection of barrels in order to become acquainted with the characteristics imparted by each to different lots of fruit. Each lot of fruit was aged in French Oak Barrels, of which 30% were new barrels, and the balance was divided among once used and twice used barrels. The coopers we are using include Francois Freres, Cadus and Seguin Moreau.

So, how have things aged? We are thrilled with how the wine is maturing. First, the colors are beautiful – they look like Pinot noir. We have been very focused on crafting wines that are not overly extracted. Early on in the process – we will admit – we were a bit concerned thinking the wines appeared too light in color. It is amazing how a couple of additional months in barrel have helped bring the color along to the beautiful garnet they are today.

After lots of tasting and discussing – we believe the 6 lots of fruit have developed into 4 distinct blends.

Blend 1 is made up of Lot 1 and Lot 2, which are the 2 lots from our Goldschmidt vineyard. These lots are made up of the Dijon clones 667, 777 and 115. This blend shows beautiful fruit, great structure with silky tannins and a medium to long finish. Blend 1 will be released as our Goldschmidt single vineyard designate.

Blend 2 is made up of Lot 3 and 4 – all Pommard clones from the ANA vineyard. This wine is a bit more intense in color – a deeper garnet with darker berry fruit aroma and pallet, well integrated acid and tannins and long finish. There is a WOW factor to this wine noted by all of us.
Blend 2 will be released as our Inaugural Reserve.

Blend 3 is made up of 80% of Lot 5 and 20% of Lot 6. Lot 5 is planted to the Dijon 777 clone and Lot 6 to Pommard. The color is classic garnet with strawberry, cherry and cranberry aromas. On the pallet we found layers of berries, spice and earthiness. Great mouth feel and finish.
Blend 3 will be released as our ANA single vineyard designate.

Blend 4 is made up of the remaining barrels of Lot 6 planted to Pommard. Frankly, we had some early concerns about this wine, as it didn’t seem to show some of the characteristic fruit of the ANA vineyard. We are blown away with what has happened to this wine over the last few months. The fruit has come through beautifully on both the nose and the pallet. It is showing very good structure and a full finish.
Blend 4 will be released as our Dundee Hills Vineyards bottling.

About the Winery

Bottling and Labeling
We searched for months for just the right bottle for our wine. We wanted a bottle that embodied the “elegant and feminine” wines we are crafting. We think we’ve found it with the Anassa bottle from Saver Glass’ Bourgogne Imperiales line. We will be the first winery in Oregon to use this unique bottle.

Our first day of bottling will be on August 18th. We are starting with a very small amount of wine – just Blend 4, our Dundee Hills Vineyards label. The remainder of our wines we plan to bottle after harvest most likely in early December.

Tasting Room
We’ve been working on a number of other projects in conjunction with the winery. The most significant is finalizing the design plans for our tasting room. We are almost finished with the plans and hope to be breaking ground by late summer or early autumn. A sketch of the tasting room will be posted shortly.

Many of you have expressed an interest in “volunteering” for crush. So, what does this entail? Well – the day starts out between 7 and 8 am, when it’s still cool, and the professionals are picking the grapes. The volunteer Crush staff works in the vineyard sorting out “MOG” (material other than grapes) as fruit is cut from the vines and placed into bins. From the vineyard, you will spend the rest of the day at the winery sorting fruit on sorting tables. You will become expert in MOG, secondary clusters, raisined fruit, and botrytis. You will listen to (and no doubt critique) a wide variety of music, work shoulder to shoulder with people from around the country and the world, talk non stop about wine (and a whole range of other equally fascinating topics), have a beer or two, eat a great lunch paired with the perfect glass of Pinot noir. Oh – and the best part – you’ll get to wear a really cool shirt and hat sporting the Winderlea logo!

When is all of this fun???? Anytime between mid-September and mid-October the call can go out. If you have a flexible schedule, drop me an email at and I will keep you posted as harvest approaches.

In Memoriam

We lost one of our greatest supporters this spring – Donna’s Dad – Bill (Billy) Morris. Dad died unexpectedly on May 18th – sadly – before he was able to visit Oregon and walk through the vineyard with us. He was so excited about everything we were doing – and always had 100 questions about what was happening in the vineyard whenever we spoke.

He was looking forward to traveling out to Oregon this summer to share in what we are doing – and also to re-visit some of his history at Ft. Lewis, Washington where he spent 6 months in training with the US Army before his tours of duty in Japan and Korea.

I am so thankful that my Dad shared his sense of adventure and desire to experience and do new things in his life with us. His spirit and love for people and life are alive with us.

As a way to always have him in the vineyard with us – we are dedicating the first and oldest block in our vineyard to him – Block 1 – which will now be known as “Billy’s Block.”

2007 Winter Vintage Journal

March 3, 2008

Weather, Pruning and Tasting – these are the things that have occupied us over the last several months since we completed Crush. Here is a quick update on the status of each.

The Weather

We have experienced the range of what Mother Nature produces since October. An unusually dry, mild and sunny October changed suddenly on November 1st to a wet, wild and windy month. The record setting wet weather in the first 10 days of November gave way to a major wind storm which knocked down trees and closed roads but fortunately had no negative impact on our vines. If the rain and wind weren’t enough – November also brought us an unusual (for November) low elevation snow front. The vines were blanketed in a dusting of snow for a day or two, as you will see with some new shots of the vineyard.

Following the very wet conditions in November, the dry and mild first week of December was a welcome relief. That changed quickly with mid December bringing the strongest windstorm in a decade and a rainstorm that wreaked havoc in the valley. Again, we are happy to report the vineyard prevailed and looks no worse for wear. The rest of December remained wet leaving the area with above average precipitation for the month.

For those of you on the East Coast who recall the balmy 50 degree days of the first couple of weeks of January – the Willamette Valley struggled with 20 and 30 degree days and some record snow falls. We are now happy to report that the last several weeks have been unusually warm, dry and blissfully sunny. Views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson have been clear and splendid. And stories of pruning in driving sideways rains are unknown to us so far.

So – what is the bottom line on the weather? It is good with plenty of rain and precipitation for the health of the vineyard. In fact, the locals have told us that by January we had enough precipitation to get us through the entire 2007 growing season.

The Vineyard

You’d think there wouldn’t be much to do in the vineyard during the winter but there is a surprising amount of work. Winter is about putting the vines in a position to produce fruit during the growing season. There is also an opportunity to learn more about the health and vigor of the vineyard this time of year. This brings us to the topic of winter pruning.

Winter Pruning, also known as Dormant Pruning, is done to begin the process of regulating the size and quality of next year’s crop. Pruning can be done at any time after the leaves have fallen from the vine and before bud break in the spring. Fruit grows from shoots that grow from one year old canes. When pruning, we are choosing the canes that will produce fruit in the coming year. We try to retain a cane that has 3 to 5 buds per foot. This determines the number of shoots that will be produced and thus the potential crop level and leaf canopy. Our goal is to have vines that are in balance so we get about two tons of perfectly ripened fruit per acre.

As a non-scientist, I can only say that this all seems somewhat complicated and, as a result, facing my thirty year old vines with very sharp pruning shears can be quite daunting. As our esteemed vineyard manager, Andy Humphrey, says, “People either get pruning or they don’t.” I fear I may be in the latter category.

Our predecessors did a wonderful job improving the quality of this vineyard. Now that we have taken stewardship, we feel a great responsibility to continue trying to make this site as good as it can be. Recently, we applied for the Low Input Viticulture and Enology Program (LIVE)™. LIVE™ promotes sustainable farming, biological diversity, and responsible stewardship. You can learn more about LIVE™ at It is our hope that by participating in LIVE™ we will not only create a healthy ecosystem for our site but that we will also become more intimately knowledgeable about our vineyard. As most winemakers will tell you, the wine is made in the vineyard so a healthier vineyard should produce better wine.

Barrel Tasting

As February winds to a close – our wines have been in barrel for nearly 4 months. During that time we have had 2 formal barrel tastings in order to follow closely the development of the wine. The importance of these two tastings is to determine if the wines have completed fermentation, to establish if there are any technical issues and finally to start making some decisions about pairing certain lots with different barrels. The first tasting was Thursday, November 30th and the second was Tuesday, February 13th. We tasted each of the 6 lots of fruit, which are aging in some 25 barrels.

Visually, all of the wines in the 6 lots were cloudy in November (which was expected at this early stage) and cleared considerably in our February review.

The first two lots we tasted are from the Goldschmidt Vineyard and the remaining four blocks from the ANA Vineyard.

Goldschmidt Vineyard
Lot 1 is made up of the Dijon Clones 667 and 777. The nose on the wine is classic violet, cherries and some cranberry. On the palate the wine is dry, shows good acid and fruit.

Lot 2 is made up of the Dijon Clone 115. The nose on this wine is completely different from Lot 1 and presents a leathery and slight wood aroma. To our surprise – on the palate – the wine showed much more fruit – particularly cherries and blueberries.

ANA Vineyard
Lot 3 comes from the adjacent ANA vineyard and is planted to Pommard clones. On the nose, Lot 3 is quite expressive with strawberry, cherry, mushroom and spice. On the palate an earthiness mixed with red and black berries come through. Good acid is also noted on this lot.

Lot 4 also planted to Pommard showed slightly less fruit on the nose, soft cherry notes on the palate and less acid than Lot 3.

Lot 5 is planted to the Dijon 777 clone. On the nose there is more of a strawberry, cherry, candy and slight spice aroma. On the palate we noted deeper fruit notes.

Lot 6 is planted to the Pommard clone. On the nose we were struck by the earthiness this wine showed coupled with some hints of coffee bean. On the palate the wine was soft with developing fruit.

Coming Soon
Spring and Bud Break – of that we are certain and really looking forward to the next stage of life in the vineyard. Until then, we are continuing our search for the perfect bottle, cork and packaging in which to hold, present and keep our wine. Let us know if you’ve seen anything particularly compelling you think we should consider.

Let us hear from you at

2006 Autumn Harvest Journal

March 3, 2008

We got the call on Tuesday, September
26 that tomorrow would be the big day – our first day of harvest – ever. At 8 a.m. on the 27th we met up with a crew of twenty or so professional pickers to receive our first ton and a quarter of fruit – the first coming off Goldschmidt vineyard blocks eight and nine made up of the Dijon 667 and 777 clones. It was a gorgeous morning – sunny and bright and a crisp 60 degrees. The picking was completed quickly and we were off to our host winery, Couer de Terre (CdT), owned by Scott and Lisa Neal. The fruit was clean and beautiful – so there wasn’t a lot of work for the sorting team (Bill, our winemaker Robert Brittan, his daughter Chelsea Brittan, who is a recent graduate of Oregon State Universities’s Viticulture and Enology program, various friends and staff of the winery and me.) In less than two hours, our first block of fruit was named WPN 01 – the W for Winderlea, the PN for Pinot Noir, the 01 for our first block; cataloged Brix, Acid, pH (think gender, weight, length for a newborn) and happily cold-soaking in the barrel room of CdT.

From September 27 through October 11, we repeated the process four more times and today we are the proud owners of nearly ten tons of fruit known as WPN 01, WPN 02, WPN 03, WPN 04, WPN 05, and last but not least, WPN 06. Don’t ask us – we don’t have a favorite – we love them equally. In time, I am sure we will love them differently. It is amazing how they have each developed their own distinctive personalities in a matter of these short days and weeks.

WPN 01 was the first to barrel on October 12. WPN 02 – WPN 06 all followed by October 28. So the six lots we nurtured so carefully during cold soak and fermentation over the past few weeks have been given over to twenty-five French oak barrels from a number of coopers, which will allow us to get to know the characteristics imparted by each.

As for Crush, Bill and I became proficient very quickly. We each staked out a critical position in the processing. I became the maven of the pre-sort and upper sort and Bill reigned supreme during the post de-stemming process. I can assure you no “unwanted” MOG (Material Other than Grape) found its way into our fermenting tanks. Each cluster and grape was meticulously inspected and only those with great beauty or great character were granted permission into our inaugural vintage.

In addition to all we learned, we made many new acquaintances during Crush. We happily helped others process their fruit at CdT – and gratefully accepted their help as well. When totes of fruit were delivered, everyone jumped in to get them sorted and processed with the same dedication and attention to detail as if they were their own. We loved the collegiality at the winery and in particular the civilized tradition the Neals have established of having everyone sit down to a real lunch each day. Everyone – vineyard workers, winery workers, winemakers, volunteers and proprietors – stopped for an hour or so each afternoon and enjoyed a great meal (with the occasional glass of wine or beer). As many Oregon winemakers will tell you, “It takes a lot of good beer to make great wine.”