Added Ramblings on the Willamette Pinot Trail
Life with Maggie at Antica Terra The latest program airing on Grape Radio (www.graperadio.com)
is “Life With Maggie, Part 2.” Winemaker Maggie Harrison talks about her challenges over the past seven
years since she left a comfortable life as assistant winemaker at Sine Qua Non in Southern California to revive
a faltering label and vineyard in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. I believe her biggest surprise, and her main
challenge, has been dealing with the vagaries of Willamette Valley weather, unlike anything that she
experienced in California’s Central Coast.
I visited Maggie at her warehouse winery in Dundee to taste the 2011 vintage out of barrel and hear about
future plans. There were a number of vineyards represented including Hyland, Nysa, Old School, Cherry
Grove, Shea (Pommard and Wädenswil clones), Antica Terra old vine (Wädenswil) and new vine (Coury clone).
She has quite a palette of grapes to work with. All the barrels are tasted blind before arriving at the blend for
her wines. There are no predetermined combination, although the Botanica bottling has usually been primarily
from Shea Vineyard. The 2011 wines, like the 2010 brethren, show excellent depth and concentration, low
alcohols, but more structure and tannin presumably from the heat spikes in September of 2011 that led to quick
ripening and skin tannin changes.
The Antica Terra Erratica Rosé ($50) is quite unique among Oregon examples. It is taken very seriously by
Maggie who plans to produce 450 cases in 2011. She describes her technique: “When certain fermentation
bins have special aromatic intensity, often after 6 to 8 days on the skins, just before the juice becomes red
wine, I drain off the juice to barrel, and age it on the lees for a year before bottling. This is not how rosé is produced in a conventional sense.”
A sparkling wine is being produced and Maggie has a number of other surprises in store which she declined to
elucidate. She was eager to talk about the onsite tasting experience that is being planned. Curated by Antica
Terra Director and Master Sommelier Nate Ready, visitors will not only be able to taste Antica Terra’s current
releases, but also a rotating selection of wines from around the world that have inspired and sustained the
Antica Terra creative process, ranging from grower Champagnes and Grand Cru Burgundies, to esoteric
bottlings from rare, indigenous grapes that feature innovative winemaking techniques. As of late July, the
program had not been launched but stay tuned.
Antica Terra wines are sold primarily through a mailing list at www.anticaterra.com.
Big Table Farm I had met Clare Carver and Brian Marcy and reviewed a number of their excellent wines,
but had never visited the Big Table Farm until July. After traversing several miles of unpaved, gravel roads, I
came upon an over-100-year-old farmhouse and an active 70-acre working farm alive with chickens, pigs,
horses, cattle, and beehives. Clare manages the farm and animals, and does the marketing for the Big Table
Farm wines. She is a talented artist, and has designed wine labels for over 100 wineries including Beaux
Frères, Phelps Creek and Miner Family Vineyards. Big Table Farm wine labels are adorned with endearing
drawings of the farm’s animals. Brian is a talented winemaker who has worked at Turley Wine Cellars, Neyers
Vineyards, Blankiet Estate and Marcassin and crafts superb single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from Pelos Sandberg
Vineyard and Resonance Vineyard. He is also quite a chef, and cooked dinner for my wife, Patti, and myself.
The couple entertain quite frequently, providing a unique winery experience. A small tasting bar is set up in
their home, and Clare’s art, which is for sale, adorns the rooms. A visit is highly recommended! Consult the
excellent website at www.bigtablefarm.com. Tasting and tours are by appointment.
Le Puy: The Place to Stay in the Willamette Valley There are a number of excellent options
for wine tourism lodging in the Willamette Valley (see my Pinot Trail Travel Directory), but my top choice would
be Le Puy: A Wine Valley Inn in Newberg. This modern 8-room bed and breakfast inn is operated by very
congenial hosts, Andy Kosusko and Lea Duffy, both former architects from the Seattle area. The inn sits on ten
acres of a tranquil hillside with expansive views of the Chehalem Mountains. Everything you need is at hand
and the gourmet breakfasts will fuel you for an entire day of wine tasting. The location is ideal, situated on
Highway 240, with all the wineries in the Yamhill-Carlton District, Dundee Hills and Chehalem Mountains within
a short bike or car ride. In addition, it is only a 10 minute drive to some of the best dining in the Valley including
Jory at The Allison and Recipe in Newberg (see below), and Tina’s and Paulee in Dundee. I stayed here as my
base of operations the week after IPNC, and I am eager to return. Visit the website at www.lepuy-inn.com.
Recipe: The Place to Eat in the Willamette Valley Dustin Wyant and long time local chef Paul
Bachand, who partnered a few years back in launching the Farm to Fork restaurant in the Inn at Red Hills,
have reunited at Recipe. They renovated an old Victorian home in downtown Newberg, and offer lunch and
dinner both indoors and outdoors on a patio. A community table provides a setting to enjoy dining with local
visitors, winemakers and townsfolk. The emphasis is on fresh seasonal ingredients from local farmers and
growers. Meats are cured and smoked in house, buratta cheese is hand formed each morning, and pasta is
made fresh daily using locally milled flour and farm eggs. The wine list includes hard to find releases from
small Oregon producers and wine service is exceptional. The restaurant received a 2013 Superior Cellar Award
from Oregon Wine Press. If you go, don’t miss the house-made buratta with toy box tomatoes, basil-walnut
pesto and ficelle toast or the escargot served in profiteroles with garlic cream and parsley butter. The
restaurant is open every day except Monday and reservations are advised but not required. Visit
McMinnville: Where the Action Is Downtown McMinnville has several wine tasting rooms in a
roughly 6 block radius including Willamette Valley Vineyards Wine Center, Twelve, Anthony Dell, R. Stuart &
Co, Wine Bar, Panther Creek Cellars, Dominio IV, The Eyrie Vineyards, Remy Wines, Westrey Wine Company,
and Walnut City Wineworks. Visit www.mcminnvilledowntownwines.org. The McMinnville Public Market is a
Saturday gathering of artists, bakers, farmers, winemakers, musicians, chefs, and purveyors, year round at 845
NE 5th or on the corner of 8th & Alpine, just a short walk from downtown McMinnville. Visit
www.mcminnvillepublicmarket.com. Finally, McMinnville’s Art & Wine Walk is held the third Saturday of every
month from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.. 20 shops and galleries open late and dozens of wineries pouring.
Concentration of Tasting Rooms in Downtown Newberg Eight tasting rooms within
walking distance including Anam Cara Cellars, Artisanal Wine Cellars, Chehalem, Dark Horse Tasting Room
(Medici, Sineann, Ferraro Cellar), Fox Farm Vineyards & Wine Bar, Hip Chicks Do Wine, Longplay Wine and
Spangler Vineyards (Umpqua Valley). Visit www.newbergdowntown.org. Voodoo Martini & Wine Bar is owned
by Cal Erath, Dick Erath’s son, so not surprisingly one can find many Pinot Noirs from very small producers. I
stopped in to try Cal’s Pinot Noir from Dick’s vineyard in Arizona, but it quickly sold out.
Carlton has Many Appealing Tasting Rooms Also There has been as many as twenty, but
some come and go. Most are open on weekends, a few daily. Carlton is seven miles north of McMinnville.
Look for Tyrus Evan in the Depot, Carlton Winemaker’s Studio (8 wineries including Andrew Rich and
Hamacher), Cliff Creek Cellars (southern Oregon), the Tasting Room (several select Oregon producers
including Arterberry Maresh, Ayres, Beaux Frères, Big Table Farm, Cameron, De Lancellotii, Domaine Drouhin,
EIEIO, Libra, and Soter), Scott Paul Wines (Oregon Pinot Noir and Burgundy), Carlton Cellars, Cana’s Feast
Winery, Domaine Coteau, Carlo & Julian Winery, Solena Cellars, Utopia Vineyard, and Seven of Hearts/