It had started as a whisper. A faint throbbing somewhere deep within my chest. A calling to move beyond textbooks, marketing, definitions and tasting rooms and to journey to the source. Slowly that whisper turned into a roar and I knew the time had come. In order to move forward with my development and into a new phase in this crazy journey called wine, I had to make the great pilgrimage all true wine lovers long to make…the journey called harvest.
As I sat in the back of a pick up truck on my first morning as an amateur winemaker, wind blowing through my thick locks of flowing hair, I came face to face with one of my first revelations…the soul of a great wine lies in the land. The Seven Springs Vineyard, the pride and joy of Evening Land Wineries Oregon project, is truly a magical place. Bathed in a soft morning mist, rows of vines dripping with beautiful ripe fruit climb the rolling hillsides of the Eola-Amity Hills they call home.
One of our first tasks was to roam through the vineyards, taking random samples of Gamay, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from each block of vines for testing to assess the ripeness of the grapes. These measurements of sugar and acid would help the winemaking team assess the order in which to harvest the fruit and to determine when harvesting would take place.
As I strolled along taking my samples, accompanied only by the perfect morning sun on my face, I couldn’t help but feel alive. Alone with these living, breathing vines I could sense an energy that was almost indescribable.
In that moment I began to contemplate the idea of “Terroir”. This is a term that is often thrown around in the world of wine, and it is the idea that the sum is greater than its parts. That it is not just one factor that defines a vineyard site, but rather a combination of elements that give a vineyard or area its unique finger print. What separates an extraordinary vineyard from a mediocre site is not a matter of grape variety, soil type, climate, altitude or slope. In truth it is the unique combination of all of these factors (and many more), that when brought together in the right dimensions and the right place that occasionally produce an exceptional and special place.
Standing at the apex of block 10 (a parcel of old vine Pinot Noir that lies on the crest of the highest part of the vineyard) looking out over the land, it was clear that the Seven Springs Vineyard is an example of one such special place. Nature, with an assist from a skilled and passionate group of people, had brought all of the elements together to create a site where the vines thrived and produced exceptional fruit that with care translates into unique and beautiful wines.
One of the things I love most about great wine is its ability to tell a story of the place it comes from. In the case of the wines from the Seven Springs Vineyard, these wines tell a tale of beauty, elegance and grace. Even now, as I close my eyes and breathe in the aroma of a 2008 Evening Land “La Source” Chardonnay, I am instantly transported back…and I can feel that same indescribable energy. The land is truly the soul of a great wine.
Stay tuned for episode 3….