Grapes tell the story of a place from creation to where we are now, says 5th generation farmer and Lady Hill winemaker, Jerry Owen. This point was noticeable to me when I had the chance to visit Johan Vineyards, one of the few certified bio-dynamic fields. These grapes grow with native wild yeast and little manipulation so that they winemakers can ‘let it be what it is.’ With an orange Pinot Gris named Drueskiall, and the first bio-dynamic Pinot Noir they call Petillant Natural, what I’ve learned from these winemakers is that each season can teach us something different:
- 2011 was a year of patience. The winemakers had to wait until November to harvest and, in order to spend time with their families, rush to get it all taken care of before Thanksgiving.
- 2012 was a year that didn’t start how it finished. The Johann fields experienced a cold and wet June which gave way to a beautiful July.
- 2013 was a year of happen-stance. Typhoon remnants dropped six inches of rain in two days, which led to an unexpected treasure: a biodynamic dessert wine.
- 2014 was a year of abundance. The question, which was a good problem to have, is where to put it all? It was reported as one of the best Oregon growing seasons with no abnormal rain dump.
- 2015 is ahead of the curve. With such a mild winter, the cycle of growth is about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule.
As a bio-dynamic wine yourself, what story do your grapes tell about the last five years?