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Thursday, May 3, 2007

About this blog (Chapter 1)

This is a blog about growing grapes for wine. It's about everything that goes into planning, planting and operating a small commercial vineyard in Oregon. It's about how decisions in the vineyard impact the finished wine in the bottle. And it's not written by just any grower, but rather by a guy who jumped into this whole thing without any formal training or even an idea what his goals are. After growing a test vineyard in Missouri for a few years, I started jotting notes in a spiral notebook, and I realized that they would simply molder away on some dusty shelf. So instead I've decided to keep what I learn posted on this blog for others to check out if they're interested. I'll cover food, travel, news and anything related to wine, but the focus will be on the growing process.

It all began with a trip to Burgundy in 2000. We just happened to arrive in Beaune, the capitol of this venerable wine region, during the harvest. We visited wineries and vineyards, and as soon as we returned home to Missouri we planted a test vineyard of hybrid vines. After several years of modest successes and spectacular defeats, I realized that I'd been bitten by the vine bug and I was hooked. I knew that I would have to try to grow the best grapes I could in my region and find a way to get those grapes into a bottle and onto the table for others to enjoy.

In 2007 we purchased 21 acres of Missouri pasture land. I had the site vetted and tested for wine grape production, and I began plans for a small commercial vineyard of Cabernet Franc and Mataro (Mourvedre) vines. I was close to planting, with the vines ordered and the vineyard site prepared. I had handshake deals with winemakers interested in the Cab Franc, and lots of support from the growing community in the area. I'd studied our climate challenges and cut my teeth on seven years in the test vineyard.

But life is about change, and before I could get the vines in the ground I learned of a job opportunity at Oregon State University. So now we're selling our house and vineyard property and moving 2000 miles west, following almost the exact same route as early pioneers who set out on the Oregon Trail. I found a buyer for my ordered vines and now I'll be starting from scratch in the Pacific Northwest.

But I hear that a few grapes are grown in Oregon's Willamette Valley. I'm taking a huge step back after being so close to having commercial vines in the ground. It'll probably be a few years before I'm that close again. But I'll be documenting my search for the perfect small vineyard site and my research on the geography of the region. I'll visit wineries, learn about the varietals and growing conditions, and try to find a way to spend time in the area vineyards.

Any questions or suggestions? Feel free to email me at dave[at]301media[dot]com.

I am a writer and web designer living in the Northwest. You can find out more here.



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