This Portlandia Pinot Noir Momtazi Vineyard wine will show up with select members of our Special Selections Wine Club and our Reserve Selections Wine Club during the month of December. I hope you’ll consider this a short preview before we get moving on the Christmas rush. More on Portlandia on their website, but the short story….no, nothing to do with the tv show, just a happy coincidence for ownership.
I’ll spend most of the time here talking about the vineyard. It’s an interesting tale.
This is Portlandia’s first vineyard designate wine and their first look at what I think truly qualifies as small production, less than 300 acres of this wine were produced.
Ok, so another first. This is the first Biodynamic wine that I’ve shipped as part of my wine clubs.
A couple of summer’s ago, I spend some significant time in the Willamette Valley, staying much of the time in McMinville. It’s a cool small town and one that I think the family will join me this year, but the thing that struck me on my way to my first appointment, was how the region wasn’t built up as of yet. At one point I had directions to a winery that said something like 5 miles to go and please be careful, you’re turning off the paved road. In any case, I was pretty shocked to see this planted next door to Penner-Ashe:
Growing up in San Diego I had to ask to confirm, but yes, I am told that’s wheat.
I think it says something that a farmer is still growing wheat when the guy next to him is selling $150 Pinot Noir.
In any case, I wasn’t surprised when I heard that the Momtazi Vineyard story began with the purchase of a fairly decrepit 500 or so acre wheat farm.
The family took a handful of years to plant, but they made a choice at the beginning, in addition to being organic, they’d follow biodynamic farming practices.
I’ve written some about both organic, as well as biodynamic farming…..oh and the differences between organic and biodynamic. Let’s just say, you don’t go Biodynamic without really wanting to do so.
The short story, biodynamic is a form of organic farming so all those principles have to be followed, but in addition there are some rules, regulations and processes that must be followed. I mean, you’ve got to really be on board to take Chamomile blossoms, put them in the intestine of the cow and bury the contraption in the fall. You pull it out in the spring and use it as part of a compost regiment.
There’s a couple of points that I should bring up. There’s a lot of talk in wineries and among winemakers that making something Biodynamic sells it, no matter the quality. It’s a subset of the market that most cannot reach of course. I know a Paso Robles winery that buys all their Biodynamic treatments over the internet, saying they switched for the sales and because getting the treatments was less costly and quicker than the chemicals.
I don’t think that’s the point. Secondly, that’s not happening at Momtazi. The family owns a winery and has two generations working on the project. It looks like each of the kids is now employed by the winery after college and really that’s exactly the type of vineyard that would actually care about what’s happening. At some point as the winery owner, your grandkids are going to be digging in the dirt-what would you want to be in there?
Ok, so given that I have an organic backyard (yes, we pick a seemingly lot of weeds in the spring, but the boys eat strawberries freely, so it’s worth it) I hope no one takes this the wrong way-but composting in a vineyard is still up for some debate. Oh, we know for certain that composting helps vine strength and longevity. That’s not up for debate at all. There have been studies that have shown, compost when applied actually helps powdery mildew to grow. I guess I bring this up, because it’s no slam dunk. Heck, even the folks at Tablas Creek have talked publicly about their challenges in creating organic compost that they could apply to the vines since the vines need to be sprayed on the leaves, as well as, having the soil treated directly itself.
On a larger level, organic and biodynamic farming in Oregon, is on the upswing and the culture in the state allows for a greater percentage of crops in the state to be grown this way. Plus, there isn’t a real push to have Oregon help to provide the cheap, $4 type of wine that we get from California’s Central Valley-which is pretty damn hard to do organically (most would say impossible, but call me an optimist). Lastly, it’s worth it to note that Momtazi is considered a sustainable vineyard, meaning that if current farming practices were kept up, the vineyard would exist indefinitely. In that method of judging ecological performance, Oregon is a true leader. Over half the vineyard space in the state is already considered sustainable, another 25% is expected to be certified soon and the remaining very well might within 10 years. No other region in America (major region at least) is able to match those statistics. In any case, enjoy the Portlandia Pinot Noir Momtazi Vineyard, it’s among my favorite Oregon Pinot’s the year.