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Big Table Farm

The Oregon wine industry was founded on California ex-patriots including David Lett, Dick Erath and Dick Ponzi. Winemaker Brian Marcy and his artist spouse, Clare Carver, are Napa, California transplants who are carrying on the tradition. They bought property in the Willamette Valley in the town of Gaston (an hour's drive southwest from Portland) to start a winery and plant a vineyard. They launched their cleverly anointed label, Big Table Farm, in 2006, crafting wine from purchased grapes.

Brian is a young, but experienced winemaker, who studied fermentation science at University of California at Davis and has had winemaking stints at Turley Wine Cellars, Neyers Vineyards, Blankiet Estate and Marcassin in California. Clair is an accomplished painter and graphic artist who has won multiple awards for wine labels she has designed. She has created labels for over 50 wineries from Oregon, California and Washington.

The Big Table Farm labels are quite unique, simply portraying farm animals such as Joleen the pig on the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Josephine the cow on the Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir. The labels were made by hand, using a letterpress and thick printmaking paper, then hand cut and glued on each bottle.

Besides making wine, the couple have established a working farm where they raise poultry, pigs, cows and egg-laying chickens and keep a large garden. See the photos of the free range chickens, porkers and cattle on the website at The name, Big Table Farm, reflects the owners' desire to provide a welcoming table for themselves and their friends, laden with artisan foods and wine: “eat, drink and enjoy.”

I met the couple at this year’s Pinot Days Southern California and was impressed not only by their enthusiasm for wine but the outstanding quality of their wines. In this age of so many mass-produced wines, the Big Table Farm stands out as a truly personal, artisan producer displaying remarkable talent, joie de vivre, and admirable commitment to sustainable farming traditions. This is exactly the type of winery we want to, need to, have to support.

2008 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 77 cases, $38. This blend is primarily sourced from the Johan Vineyard, farmed by Dan Rinke. The vineyard is organically farmed with the goal of obtaining biodynamic certification. The manure from cows at Big Table Farm is used for preparations for the vineyard rows that are tended for Big Table Farm. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The aromas of cherry/berry jam, roses and red jujubes are enticing. Discreet structural power with vivid berry fruit that is subtly spiced and smoked. A middle weight wine displaying a soft and smooth mouthfeel, fine-grain tannins and impeccable balance. A very impressive Willamette Valley bottling. Very good (+).

2008 Big Table Farm Resonance Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., 94 cases, $45. This vineyard is farmed by Kevin and Carla Chambers and is certified Biodynamic®. · Rich, deep, brooding dark red fruits with a savory underpinning of chanterelle mushrooms, loamy earth and cardamon spice. This wine has impressive intensity on the mid palate, a pillowy texture, and a finish like a three hour movie you don’t want to end. Still a little closed, seemingly possessing more hidden charm waiting to get out. Cellar this wine for one to two years for ultimate gratification. Love the low alcohol. A very heavenly and sensual pleasure.

Visit the informative and beautifully designed website at The wines are available online, but with such small production, I am sure they will quickly sell out. A Riesling and Syrah are also produced.

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