Thursday, August 11, 2011

Better Wine is Coming...

Call this post a mission statement, but this blog is being developed with a specific purpose. While I have the utmost respect for the efforts of winemakers statewide, I don't feel there is a good forum for discussing everything that is scientifically unique about wine making in Oregon. As I continue down my journey in this industry, I am always nagged by questions I would never ask a winemaker. The biggest is one I'm sure every wine drinker has wondered, "Did you mean to do this to the wine??" I do not ask this to offend or to put down anyone, I am just boggled sometimes about whether the obvious flaws that show up in Oregon wines are due to a lack of education, a lack of commitment, or a lack of money and technology (yes I believe they are directly linked). Or are they created intentionally by a minimalist wine making approach?

While I am all for terroir and small, expressive production, I am referring to flaws which are classically pointed out in tasting classes and wine schools across the country. Things like excessive VA, EA, browning, sulfides, excessive redox, tartrates in young vintages, flaws that are immediately apparent to anyone who has the pleasure of working with wine every day. The reason things like this concern me is that we are in a very complimenting industry. The success of all of our wineries (although definitely pioneered by a few) can be attributed, at least in part, to the mystique of Oregon as a wine growing region. I believe that it benefits all of us when one of us does exceptionally. However, the converse is true as well.

It is worth noting now that my background is not traditional to a winemaker. I was not raised on a vineyard, I have always loved science and elected to study Chemistry at a liberal arts college. What led me to enjoy wine making is the overlap between science and nature, I know we cannot possibly predict or control every aspect of wine making. But we can sure try. And it is this philosophy that has led me to write this blog. My goal here is to address and discuss the scientific problems and challenges that confront winemakers in this state on a daily basis. Chemistry can be scary and intimidating to some, but it is the cornerstone of sound wine making. A knowledge of what goes on in wine beyond the surface is invaluable, and in my experience tasting in some parts of the state, often overlooked. All I can do is hope that this blog finds the correct readership and is used as the forum and tool that it is meant to be.

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