Troon Vineyards' owner Chris Martin, president of the Southern Oregon Winery Association, believes the region now stands at a crossroads in its development as a destination.
Grants Pass, Ore.-There's more to Oregon wine
than Pinot Noir.
Region at the crossroads The parallels with Walla Walla are apt, according to Chris Martin, president of the Southern Oregon Winery Association and owner of 7,000-case Troon Vineyard in Grants Pass.
"We are a region that is right at the crossroads I think Walla Walla was at four years ago," he
"I think we as a region can take away a lot of the lessons they've learned, and hopefully shorten the learning curve for ourselves and move us forward."
Speaking shortly after the conference ended, Martin
said Southern Oregon-like the rest of the state-has to do a better job at establishing an identity for itself that would attract people keen to discover what the region has to offer.
"What is our brand identity; how do we take ourselves forward; how do we get people to come out and see what's special about Oregon and advance the message?
"Beyond any varietal, what you're branding is quality and name recognition."
is particularly keen to see a couple of wineries grow large enough to represent the region beyond state lines.
, Chris Martin
, Herb Quady, Southern Oregon Wine
, Southern Oregon Wine Cluster Conference
, Southern Oregon Wine Institute
, Umpqua Community College
, Wines and Vines
If you ask Chris Martin
about the direction of his
vineyards, you'll hear Tannat and Vermentino
Not familiar with these varietals?
first tried Vermentino
ten years ago while on vacation in Italy.
The origins of the Vermentino vine are not entirely clear.
One version it that it is native to Spain, while another claims it is a variant of Malvasia which migrated from the island of Madeira.
In either case it is widely planted along the Mediterranean coasts of France and Italy.
The flavors, food friendliness and relatively low-alcohol intrigued Chris
enough that years later, after he
had jumped into the wine industry purchasing Troon Vineyard
grafted over a few rows of Chardonnay.
But, not before he
did some homework with Vermentino winegrowers in southern California.
The 2007 vintage saw the first cases of Vermentino- a whole 48.
Chris states, "The wine was impressive, garnering recognition from several prominent wine writers.
developed a production plan for the winery, it became apparent to him that this varietal should have a significant place in Troon Vineyard
Three vintages after its inaugural release, an additional 2 acres of vines have been dedicated to the varietal.
If all goes as planned, Troon will be producing 600+ cases of Vermentino annually five years from now- making them the largest producer of Vermentino in North America and currently the only producer in Oregon (although, Chris thinks that will change soon).
Tannat ready for harvest
Tannat is another varietal Chris
tasted during his
It originates in the Madiran
region of southwest France- a hot, dry place that turns out wines that are so high in tannins they are often undrinkable for ten years.
This grape has also found a home in Central and South America.
It is the national grape of Uruguay and is being widely planted in Brazil.
was fascinated by its reputation as being the most tannic grape varietal in the world and thought it might be an interesting challenge in Southern Oregon
purchased cuttings in 2006 (the same year as the Vermentino) and grafted one row of Chardonnay to Tannat.
The grape clusters were large and plentiful and in 2007, Troon
fermented their first bit of Tannat.
"The wine expressed a flavor profile unlike anything any of us at Troon
had ever tasted from this area," Chris
explains, "making all of us quite excited.
It did not exhibit the hugely tannic varietal that he
expected, perhaps due to the Applegate Valley's milder climate.
It wasn't until 2008 that there were enough grapes to make a barrel of Tannat.
The release of this small production (23 cases) to Troon's high-end Wine Club sold-out in a matter of days.
believes this varietal will produce a reasonable amount of tonnage per acre and ripen consistently here.
has committed 4 further acres in 2010 to Tannat, so that over the next five years, you will see their case output grow to 500+ cases annually.
So, why are Vermentino
and Tannat good varietals for Southern Oregon?
Chris says, "I am planting Vermentino and Tannat because they can ripen at reasonable tonnages, even in the most challenging years to produce exceptional wines- wines that retail at reasonable prices, $15 or under for whites and $20 or under for reds.
"There are many reasons to embrace Vermentino
and Tannat rather than just focus on our more mainstream varietals," Chris
Labels:Applegate Valley, Applegate Valley AVA, Chris Martin
, Southern Oregon Wine
, Troon Vineyard