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
Mike Willison
October 27, 2014 | Mike Willison

Do more by doing less

A recent restaurant visit proved to be a profound exercise in archaeology when faced with the vast hieroglyphics of the cocktail list. It had been crafted, curated, locally-sourced, painstakingly-procured, and whimsically presented by the list’s adorable docent, of course. Ingredients were pre-prohibition, pre-Pasteur, and pre-historic, all obtained with the aid of a grizzled, old shaman at no small amount of risk to the establishment’s ingredient farmer, and they had bottles of Pappy Van Winkle that you could look at, and one you could pay to smell.

Cynicism aside, the list was filled with baffling details. Each drink was built upon the general theory that a very many bizarre things could be mixed together to make one very good thing. Further, their particular bailiwick was the mystifying use of Things We Turned Into Other Things™; things such as: “Hood Strawberry and mint-infused Mosel Riesling gelée powder” (powder!) and “Hay smoked watercress and endive gin distillate”. All of this is true. Now, this is very inventive, I grant you, and this probably tastes very good. Probably (maybe).

I am not in the habit of squishing any creative endeavor, and these creations could very well be a good thing in and of themselves, however, when a laundry list of aromatic liqueurs, tinctures, oils, and curlicues of exotic flora are added, then shaken or stirred over an ice cube carved out of Pleistocene glacial remains, and snuggled into a 1890’s coupe, it is precious beyond precious. It’s like watching a soccer riot; so much is happening but you can’t really pick any of it out and then the stadium collapses. A far cry from spirit, sugar, water, and bitters.

Call me old-fashioned, but I really don’t think making a drink with 25 ingredients, transmogrified into superhero versions of themselves, despite their impeccable provenance, is a thing that is or can be good. In fact, what rankles me the most is that many of these ingredients, such as wine, spirits, and bitters, have already been painstakingly curated and Turned Into Other Things™ for you! How very novel. A wine, beer and spirits list that is tight, clean, well-chosen, cozy, and a bit edgy is a thing of beauty when done right. When done wrong, dinner lasts a century.

Time Posted: Oct 27, 2014 at 9:50 AM
Carrie Kalscheuer
October 21, 2014 | Carrie Kalscheuer

What makes us different

This past summer, we hosted several Linfield College students enrolled in a year-long program called the Oregon Wine Industry Experience. After touring the facility, the students were introduced to our wines and our people. As the last stop of their two-month introduction to the industry, filled with many winery and vineyard visits, tastings and tours, we had our work cut out for us. What hadn’t they already learned?

As the largest winery in Oregon, we need a large staff. More staff routinely leads to more segregated teams, a problem I hear about from many of my colleagues in the industry. So, what makes us different? Here at A to Z, we know that to be successful, we need to work together; we need to form bonds and relationships between teams, and to keep those connections healthy and vibrant in order to keep our winery healthy and vibrant. It is this collaboration that stands out to me when talking about our individual responsibilities with the Linfield students – all of us know what each other does and we interact multiples times a day, necessarily.

It’s always fun to show off our winery! It is a continually growing facility that has a deep history. But hosting the Linfield students reminds me that at the end of a rich summer program, when they’ve seen a great many facilities, there will still be something they haven’t heard – how to run a successful winery while keeping a staff of 50 engaged, happy, productive and together.

Time Posted: Oct 21, 2014 at 9:49 AM
Mike Willison
September 16, 2014 | Mike Willison

What's missing from your end-of-summer get together?

Late summer in Oregon is all about our abundant harvest. Blueberries, boysenberries, corn, tomatoes, chilies, squash and more give us a reprieve from the ubiquitous kale of winter (while salmon begin their fall run even in August close to the coast in Astoria) to lay a foundation for a wild array of dishes from raw to grilled. Fresh and bright is the order of the day, and the best wines reflect that. Acidity trumps tannin, being more suited for lighter, summery fare - like a squeeze of lemon on a bed of green - so our cool-climate whites and reds (Pinot Noir, Gamay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay) with less oak will always pair elegantly, and not overwhelm a dish's nuance.

A summer favorite at the winery, we recommend Ahi Poké paired with Chardonnay or Pinot Gris as the perfect pairing to start your end-of-summer get together.


Ahi Poké

Serving Size: 15
Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes minimum
Wine Pairing: 2012 REX HILL Willamette Valley Seven Soils Chardonnay
                         2012 REX HILL Jacob-Hart Vineyard Pinot Gris

20 oz fresh ahi tuna
1 bunch of green onions
1 shake of fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp Thai chili paste
2 tbsp pure sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds double the amount if choosing not to use black sesame seeds
1 1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds optional
1 tbsp Mongolian fire oil


  1. Clean off any remaining bits of skin or sinew.
  2. Dice ahi in 1 1/2-inch chunks and place it in a medium-sized bowl.

  1. Chop up green onions and add it to the bowl.
  2. Add fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and Mongolian fire oil. Stir.
  3. Add sesame seeds & Thai chili paste. Stir.

  1. Taste. Add ingredients as necessary.
  2. Cover & refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.
  3. Serve with Kim Chee cucumbers, zucchini squash spaghetti, or by itself.
Time Posted: Sep 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM
September 11, 2014 | REX HILL

Do you have an emergency evacuation plan?

After the earthquake hit the heart of Napa, KGW visited REX HILL to investigate our preparedness. Oregon is due for an enormous earthquake at an estimated 9.0 magnitude! If this were to occur, Kelly House of the Oregonian reported that it would take up to three months just to restore electricity in the Willamette Valley alone!

Despite the tremendous care we take with our wines, the safety of our employees is a top priority. We have plans in place for fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters and have occasional, unannounced drills to measure our preparedness. REX HILL, like many Oregon wineries, was originally built around an old building designed for something else (in our case, it was a barn used to dry fruit and nuts). Realistically assessing these old, repurposed structures is very important. Even small measures could make a big difference in an emergency, for instance, adding lighted exit signs, choosing not to stack barrels too high or bolting tanks to reinforced concrete pads.


See our seven tips for emergency procedures.

Time Posted: Sep 11, 2014 at 3:30 PM
Charlotte Mischel
September 9, 2014 | Charlotte Mischel

7 Tips to Prepare for Natural Disasters

1. Get all staff involved and educated. Natural disasters can happen at any time, any where.

2. Facility Evaluation: Do you have an emergency evacuation plan?

3. Invite your local Fire Department to evaluate the surroundings. They like to be involved.

4. Hold mock fire drills, evacuation drills and measure responsiveness.

5. Assess and discuss what went right with the mock drills and what needs improving.

6. Hold fire extinguisher training. Learn where your exits are. When it's dark, smokey and exits are blocked, would you know what to do?

7. Invest in people - buy a defibrillator, pay for first aid and CPR training. Time means everything in an emergency.


Tip #2. Emergency Evacuation Plan

Tip #2. Fire Escape Ladder

Tip #6. Lighted Exit Signs

Tip #7. Defibrilator


Time Posted: Sep 9, 2014 at 2:21 PM
Ryan Collins
August 19, 2014 | Ryan Collins

Crop Load Study

We are currently participating in a state-wide crop load trial in collaboration with Patricia Skinkis at Oregon State University. It's a five year study that looks into the effects of yield, pruning weight and the Ravaz index on fruit quality (Pinot Noir). We are crop thinning to three different treatments:

  1. Two clusters per shoot
  2. One cluster per shoot
  3. One cluster every other shoot

Crop thinning is performed 55 days post bloom.

At veraison, leaf blades are sampled to monitor plant nutrient status and to see if the crop load is affecting vine nutrient partitioning. The reference vines are all harvested at the same time, the fruit is weighed and the samples are collected for fruit analysis. Yields in each treatment vary from year to year and depend mostly on fruit set. We have found that there are some interesting correlations between yield and fruit chemistry, but we need another three years of results to draw strong conclusion.

Time Posted: Aug 19, 2014 at 3:30 PM

The health and safety of our customers and staff are our primary concern as restrictions on our county are relaxed. We are currently assessing how we will again open to the public in a safe and healthy way and will continue to post updates on our website as our plans solidify.


In the meantime, we are still able to take your calls, answer emails, and pack wine to deliver to your door. To arrange a wine delivery, please reach out to Jamie, our Wine Club Manager at jamie@rexhill.com. 


Stay well. We look forward to seeing you again before too long for a toast!


The REX HILL team