February 2, 2015 | REX HILL

February Quote

"Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers."

- Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine


Time Posted: Feb 2, 2015 at 9:20 AM
Ryan Collins
January 26, 2015 | Ryan Collins

How to celebrate Australia Day like an Aussie

Australia Day marks the arrival of Britain's First Fleet to Australia in 1788. Follow this 14-step guide to celebrate Australia Day like an Aussie:

  1. Sleep in.
  2. Put the beer on ice.

  3. Go for a swim.
  4. Turn on the radio to Triple J. Listen to the Hottest 100.
  5. Crack a cold beer.
  6. Kick the footie around.

  7. Turn on the BBQ.
  8. Crack a cold beer.
  9. Men stand around the BBQ and cook sausages.
  10. Get sunburnt.
  11. Crack a cold beer.
  12. Eat burnt sausages.
  13. Play backyard cricket.

  14. Go to bed early because you have work the next day..........

Cheers mate!


Time Posted: Jan 26, 2015 at 2:14 PM
Sam Tannahill
January 21, 2015 | Sam Tannahill

How an egg found its way into our cellar

"A box without hinges, key, or lid,
yet golden treasure inside is hid."
Gollum, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Bilbo’s answer to the riddle posed by Gollum (remember they were playing for the most precious thing Bilbo possesses – not the ring of power, but his life) is as we all know now, an egg.  The humble egg has long been a powerful symbol in history, mythology, philosophy (which came first?) and lore.  Why and how has it found its way into our cellar in the guise of a fermentation vessel.  The how is easy.  Our eggs came to us from a company in France, Nomblot.

The Nomblot Company, managed by Marc Nomblot, has been manufacturing concrete wine tanks in Burgundy since 1922.  In 2001, Michel Chapoutier from Maison M. Chapoutier, a 200-year-old winery in France’s Rhone Valley, asked Marc to create an egg shaped concrete wine fermenter.  After the first tank was created and installed at Masion M. Chapoutier, word quickly spread about this unique shape.  In 2006, A to Z Wineworks, with the help of Jerome Aubin from Artisan Barrels, became the first winery in Oregon to import and use a Nomblot Egg tank.  Since that time there has been a minor explosion of egg shaped tanks in Oregon, California and Washington wineries.  In the ultimate “tribute,” the concrete egg tank shape is now being made by companies in the United States. 

We choose to use Nomblot tanks because no chemical additives are used in the construction of the tanks – only sand, stone and water.  Also, Nomblot has not only been making concrete wine tanks for over 80 years, but employs a unique process that creates a tank of exceptionally high quality.  As many things old that are new again, concrete was used for many years in building wine fermentation tanks.  Over the past 30 years concrete fell out of favor as stainless steel replaced it as the material of choice for tanks.  Winemakers now are relearning that concrete is an ideal material to use for fermentation and storage as it is porous (like barrels), which allows the wine to slowly “breathe” without giving the wine oak flavors.  Concrete is also a fantastic insulator which allows for slow, cool fermentations and ideal wine storage temperature that helps preserve aromas and mouthfeel.  Lastly, concrete, like wood, is a more natural, less processed, and less sterile material than stainless steel which, like Biodynamic practices, brings the wine closer to its natural environment in which the grapes were grown. 

Time Posted: Jan 21, 2015 at 3:17 PM
Karina Lopez
January 6, 2015 | Karina Lopez

Valley to Valley (Napa to Willamette)

After working in the wine industry in Napa Valley for 10 years, I decided to pack up my things and move to the wine industry in the Willamette Valley.

Why Oregon?

My husband and I first visited Portland three years ago on vacation, and we fell in love with the city. The people here are much more relaxed; the city is clean and has such an urban, artsy feel to it; the food is amazing; and there are so many unique shops and a sense of creativity all around. Don’t get me wrong, Napa is beautiful with amazing food, a central location, and a small tight-knit community. It was just time for a change after living there for almost all of my life.

Napa vs. Willamette Valley wine….

This is a tough and sensitive subject! When I first started working here, my co-worker joked about Napa being good for auto parts. I sensed a little competition, similar to Napa vs. Sonoma. Napa and the Willamette Valley are two very different wine regions. One reason is the weather. Napa has a very hot and dry climate with very cold winters, ideal for Bordeaux varieties. The Willamette Valley is much cooler, making the weather more ideal for Burgundy varieties.

I do have to say that the Pinot Noirs here are delicious! They are much lighter than what I’m used to, but balanced and structured. I look forward to learning more about Oregon Pinot Noir and drinking more of it too!

Time Posted: Jan 6, 2015 at 11:12 AM
Charlotte Mischel
December 24, 2014 | Charlotte Mischel


Are the super cyber sales getting you down? Is your iPhone blowing up with last chance savings? Pre-black Friday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Thank goodness for Giving Tuesday, but back again on Wednesday is Black Friday, extended for yet a few more days. Ack!

Looking back to my childhood days, we were lucky enough to be commercially traumatized only by a few sources – the local newspaper, only two TV channels and the Sears Roebuck catalog. How the world has changed, but how lucky am I to remember what the holidays really meant in our household: family, friends and Christmas vacation.

Sure there were presents, but not this organized chaos of what the millennial marketing campaign has become. The pressure to be a consumer or be consumed? Hats off to them, they’re good at what they do, but I’m hitting the delete button. This only drives me closer to local stores that matter - New Seasons, Red Ridge Farms, Rain Dance Marketplace, Yamhill’s Gallery and Gifts, and many more who offer thoughtful, sustainable, local, handmade and homemade goods. Do cyber sale sites promote these gifts enough? Maybe, but I stopped looking long ago.

So, if you’re feeling the pain, stick your nose in a fresh Noble tree, light a votive candle and bring out the record player. I hear Bing Crosby calling for a White Christmas and Elvis having a Blue Christmas without you…

During this busy holiday season, I challenge you to ask yourself, “Do you celebrate the things you do have?”

Merry Christmas!  Joyeux Noël!   Frohe Weihnachten!  Mele Kalikimaka!  Meri Kirihimete!   Nollaig Chridheil!  Nizhonigo Keshmish!  Sretan Božić!  Sheng Dan Kuai Le (圣诞快乐) !

Time Posted: Dec 24, 2014 at 1:25 PM
Deb Hatcher
December 19, 2014 | Deb Hatcher

Keep it local

Two years ago, Ed King invited a few leaders from the Oregon beer, wine and spirits industries to discuss common interests. The result? A non-profit Oregon Craft Beverage Council to promote awareness of the jobs and monies the craft beverage industries contribute to Oregon's economy. Additionally, the collaborative group can now offer a unified opinion on state legislative issues of concern to our industries. Ed produced a short video that aired during the holidays on cable television in 2012 and 2013. This year an awareness campaign, "Keep it Local," launched at the end of October to remind Oregonians of their many local beverage choices for the holidays. Billboards, window stickers, bottle neckers and shelf talkers can be found throughout the state and t-shirts can be purchased in our tasting room.

  Distilleries Breweries Wineries
Total Oregon distilleries, breweries, wineries 63 214 545
Total number of jobs created 350 6,500 13,500
Economic boost (2013) ~ 3 BILLION




Time Posted: Dec 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Karen Peterson
December 15, 2014 | Karen Peterson

Don't be afraid. It's SkySquirrel NOT Skynet.

The use of military drones has led to many a heated discussion of military ethics; however, as these devices make their way into agricultural industries, the only appropriate response is, "AWESOME."

Aerial imaging has been used in vineyards for many years to give growers an overview of the general health of their vineyard. Now you may be thinking, "Can't you just walk the vineyard and see weak areas?" Yes, but consider a vineyard like Jacob-Hart, with approximately 34 vineyard acres planted to 5x8 spacing. There are about 37,000 vines and aerial imaging allows us to see them all at once. Even better, companies specializing in scientific aerial imaging offer many imaging options including thermal imaging which identifies areas under stress as hotter than areas that are healthy (see image to the left). With basic knowledge of the site, you can often locate changes in soil type, location of recently planted blocks, disease hot-spots, drainage issues, and many other aspects that influence vine performance.

As you might imagine, this is neither an inexpensive nor quick service. So how does such a company make their services more available? Drones.

VineView, a scientific aerial imaging company based out of St. Helena, California, joined forces with SkySquirrel Technologies, a Canadian unmanned aerial system company, to bring drones to the agricultural community. The name of this joint effort is Aqweo, and it made its first appearance at the Napa Valley Grapegrowers' first ever ROOTSTOCK conference on November 13th. This marks an impressive step in the precision agriculture movement and, while there are currently some FAA restrictions that will delay commercial drone use in vineyards, I cannot help but get excited about where this technology will be in the next few years.


Time Posted: Dec 15, 2014 at 4:59 PM
Mike Willison
November 26, 2014 | Mike Willison

Wading Through a Sea of Leftovers: How to cope on the day after Thanksgiving

It is now 2:30pm on the day after Thanksgiving and you’ve just finally put the 11th load of dishes into the dishwasher, tucked the good gravy boat back into the deep corner of the pantry, and located what you hope is the very last half-full plastic tumbler of red wine (in the bathtub, no less). The refrigerator is bursting with leftovers in a zoo of Tupperware containers and there is even a lidded pot on the back porch. All of the relatives have left for Duluth, Topeka, and Toledo, and your kids and spouse are already clamoring in loud and desperate voices for “anything but turkey.”  Here are some helpful hints to ensure a happy and swift return to normalcy:

Thanksgiving Day:

Buy a dozen large Tupperware containers and make all of your guests a to-go goodie box of the “Greatest Hits of Thanksgiving” while cleaning up.  This makes storage easier and prevents your having to read any further provided everyone actually takes their parcel (along with the dish they brought the sweet potatoes over in).


  • If you somehow have white meat left, it will no doubt be dry and utterly useless. So, make a Cuban sandwich with it and there will be joy.  Alternate: Turkey Reuben
  • White meat can also be chopped up and made into a delicious Cobb salad replacing the chicken with turkey if the mood in the house is sluggish.
  • A mix of white and dark meat? My mother’s Turkey Tetrazzini got us through the very darkest of days and seemed to improve as the weeks and months wore on. The shelf life is measured with carbon-dating. 
  • Mostly dark meat and a couple of sides can be made into a delicious mixture for the general stuffing of things into other things, depending on your level of kitchen expertise. Turkey, peas, mixed vegetables, mushrooms, even a bit of the old green bean casserole, can be mixed together and stuffed into a samosa, a pupusa, an empanada, or even a calzone. Find some pastry, wrap it up, and bake it.
  • Bones: roast them and then heave them in a pot with vegetables and all of the half-full bottles of wine and make soup, stock, jook, or broth.

Sweet Potato & Marshmallow:

Green Bean Casserole:

  • This does not age well. The crispy onions get disappointingly mushy, the mushrooms get gloppy, and the fun wanes like day 2 with a pet rock. You have only 2 choices: Use as per above as a stuffable or dispose of with shame. Read: don’t even think of composting this.

Stuffing/ Dressing:

  • If done properly, there will be no leftovers. I can’t help you if you don’t understand this.

Cranberry sauce/ Regular potatoes/ Roasted vegetables:

  • Have brunch. Add waffles, pancakes, eggs, sparkling wine, and orange juice.


Have a Thanksgiving leftover emergency? Post your questions and comments below.

Time Posted: Nov 26, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Emily Sadler
November 20, 2014 | Emily Sadler

My first harvest experience

High visibility safety vest, check.
A to Z Sasquatch & B Corp pins for said high visibility safety vest, check.
GoPro and camera ready for action, check.
Dodge a forklift, check.
Wash harvest dishes, check.
Harvest Party, check.

At Harvest, the winery is buzzing. So many new faces and new trucks with great looking fruit are rolling in. Don't blink because you might miss something!

I observed and documented the hustle & bustle outside the building for my first harvest. As a member of the Marketing Department, I had the opportunity to take some videos of picking, sorting and punch downs to share with all of our social media followers. The fruit was beautiful this year, and everyone continues to comment on that. The smell of grapes fermenting was in the air, and I enjoyed how alive the winery became during harvest with exciting things happening everywhere. It was fun to see everyone come together to create what we're all so passionate about: our incredible wine!

Time Posted: Nov 20, 2014 at 4:04 PM
Meredith McGough
November 13, 2014 | Meredith McGough

A Kid at the Adult Table

The International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) is a huge draw to Oregon wine country for producers and consumers alike. I’ve heard a lot about it since I moved to Oregon in 2000, but working in the industry makes late July a challenging time to get away from the winery. We tend to be simultaneously wrapping up bottling of the previous vintage and preparing for the upcoming one.

In 2014, I finally had a chance to attend the Grand Seminar at IPNC, which was titled “Pinot Noir and the Doors of Perception.” This was of particular interest to me, as I have been exposed to some very in-depth olfactory training over the past seven years. I appreciated Harvard historian Steven Shapin’s comments on the evolution of wine perception and with it, the continually morphing idea of what makes a good wine. Birmingham chef, Frank Stitt, reminded many of us who need no reminder that the right wine with the right food can broaden our gustatory horizons. I was most looking forward to Elaine Brown’s visual depiction of how wine tastes. Her cartoons are informational as well as interesting, and she has received a lot of press for her wine tasting notes in the form of drawings. It is absolutely time that this is a recognized form of wine description, and she is by no means the first to visually represent flavor.

When I worked at Opus One, the Assistant Viticulturist was excellent at her job in the vineyard, but had not spent much time developing a vocabulary for her palate. When she was asked to participate in blending sessions with the winemaking team, she was initially intimidated and struggled to attach words to her perception. I noticed, sitting next to her in a tasting one day, that she was drawing small forms at the bottom of her tasting sheet and assigning words later. As I began to regularly observe her drawings alongside her description, I grew to understand the language of her art. She told me it was simply much more natural for her to capture taste through pictures.

Similarly, in an Olfaction Seminar with Alexandre Schmitt in 2011, I sat next to Patrick Reuter of Dominio IV wines. A very creative person, Patrick sat among a group of 12 other winemakers, each with a pen or pencil and paper, and Patrick spread out his set of crayons. We were learning to describe and identify aromas, but Patrick was also assigning them color and shape.

Winemaking is the intersection of art and science. For most of us, the process skews more heavily one way or the other, but this meeting of left and right brain has always been, to me, a central tenet of the craft. Tasting wine (especially within the industry) is so often technical. Many consumers strive to accurately identify color, aroma, acid, alcohol content. There is an entire profession devoted, essentially, to the blind identification of vintage, varietal, region, and producer, or at the very least whether the vintage was warm or cool, whether the wine is new world or old, and whether there is a flaw of some sort in the wine. But it seems only natural that there could be a more creative way to appreciate wine. I have challenged myself to draw what I taste more regularly, and I challenge you to do the same the next time you sit down with a glass of wine. You may surprise yourself at either your creative skill or the accuracy with which you are able to capture your perception through art.

Time Posted: Nov 13, 2014 at 10:20 AM