Winery Visit: Brickhouse Vineyards

Brickhouse grows three grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gamay. Organic and biodynamic growing practices are an important part of Brickhouse's identity. The wines have always been grown organically since it's inception in 1990 and has been certified biodynamic since 2005. All the wines are produced by native yeast fermentation, rather than inoculation by commercial yeast. Doug is also very passionate about using whole cluster fermentation. He learned a lot from Steven Doerner of Cristom, who is a huge advocate for the practice it in the valley.

Oregon Oak in Winemaking

Although I had seen Oregon oak barrels at Belle Pente last year, I didn't realize how much of a part they played in the Chardonnay. For the last ten years, Belle Pente has aged it's Chardonnay in 50% French oak barrels and 50% Oregon Oak barrels. Belle Pente's Chardonnay is elegant and nutty, but does not tend anywhere near coconut and dill. That is because Oregon oak is a different species, Quercus garryana, that grows from the Puget Sound through Oregon to Northern California.

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining Scott and Dana Frank and a merry band of volunteers to pick grapes at the Borgo Pass Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. We were picking Cabernet Sauvignon from 40 year old vines. This is the first year the Franks were able to get this fruit from Borgo Pass. The vineyard is located just west of Monroe, OR about a half an hour south of Corvallis. Grower Mark Dubose does all the planting of the vineyard, which in addition to Cabernet Sauvignon also includes Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and a little bit of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.