A few weeks ago we did a blind tasting internally of our own 2016 Gewurztraminer against our competition. The high quality of our own wine against our competition was really a nice morale booster. I believe we have mastered Gewurztraminer winemaking like few have: our wine is aromatic and intense, but not monodirectional, it is not too dry but also not sweet – the balance and complexity of our Gewurztraminer is just incredible.
And I don’t think we are the only one to notice that truth: Wine Spectator has rated our Gewurzt as the top Washington Gewurzt since 2009 with 90 points in 2015 and 90 points in 2013 (the 2016 is not rated yet) AND Wine Enthusiast magazine is often rating our Gewurztraminer 90 points and above. I would attribute our success with this variety to three factors.
First, as a winemaking team, we are in tune with northern Europeans aromatic white wines – those wines talk to us and we have the right sensibility to make those styles - we love the tension between intense aromatics and a hint of residual sugar for example.
Second, we get our Gewurztraminer grapes from a cooler north facing Yakima Valley (in the Snipes Mountain AVA precisely) vineyard. The Ramos vineyard, as it is called, does not ripen too fast which allows for the full aromatic development of the Gewurztraminer bouquet.
Third we do an overnight skin contact and shy away from correcting the high pH of Gewurztraminer which together tend to intensify the varietal aromas of this exuberant variety. Gewurztraminer is one of the most aromatic and distinct wine grape variety in the world often displaying aromas of lychee,
Turkish delight and tropical fruit. The grapes are a lovely pink color and the resulting wine always seems a little coppery in the glass. The combination of the exuberant aromatics and the slight coppery tinge makes Gewurztraminer very different from any other white wine. Gewurztraminer is an early ripener that needs some hang time to develop its full aromatic potential which often leads to late picking, itself leading to high alcohol levels and low acidities.
Alsace is where most of the Gewurztraminer vines are planted and about one fifth of the region’s area is dedicated to the variety. It is made there in all sort of styles but is most commonly found as a dry style – lucky are the consumers finding Vendanges
Tardives or Selection de Grains Noble sweet styles from Alsace. Outside Alsace the main region growing Gewurzt would be in California (about half the acreage found in Alsace) and apart from Alsace and California many regions throughout the world grow a small amount of it including Washington State.
Gewurztraminer is a treat with complex aromatic food and for that reason is often recommended with Indian cuisine and curries or for the Thanksgiving smorgasbord American dinner. While I like those combinations I also love Gewurztraminer with stinky French cheeses or with seafood tacos.
Give a try to Gewurztraminer. Our Ramos vineyard is barely off dry and will offer you an intense sensory experience as well as a delicious point of conversation with friends.
Viniculture vs. viticulture? What do these terms refer to and how do we understand the difference? The scientific term “viticulture” refers to the science, study and production of grapes. The term “viniculture” also refers to the science, study and production of grapes. However, when we hear viniculture we know the process is referring specifically to grapes for wine.
Though technically defined as being the process cultivation of grapevines for winemaking, viniculture in popular use can often be referring to the process of making the wine itself, whereas viticulture would be used to refer to the process of growing the grapes. To confuse matters a bit more, the person who is, for example, growing Pinot Noir wine grapes, is called a viticulturist.
If you heard the terms viniculture or viticulture it’s likely you have heard them used interchangeably. You could even consider viniculture as a term under the larger umbrella of viniculture, since the latter refers more broadly to the science, study and production of grapes. Viticulture is the science and agriculture of growing grapes, whether that is table grapes or juice grapes. However, with viniculture, those grapes are headed for winemakers!
A simple device to remember viniculture vs. viticulture is to use the first three letters of viniculture to identify it as relating to vino!
Viniculture and viticulture aside, you already know that Pinot Noir is a wonderfully versatile and desirable varietal. Pinot Noir grapes produce excellent red wines, white wines and sparkling wines. Growing Pinot Noir wine grapes requires a vast knowledge and a commitment to purity, precision and perfection. The standard for Pinot Noir tends to be very high and it is known as one of, or perhaps even the most, challenging wine varietals to grow.
Next time you are shopping for a bottle of Pinot Noir it may be a fun challenge to research the brands in your local shops or frequented online sellers to find out a bit about their own process for viniculture.
Dry farming has been a way of life for European wine producers for centuries. In the United States, irrigation for orchards wasn't introduced until 1970, after which it became a popular method. Now widely used across the states, irrigation systems have more recently been problematized by increasingly desperate draughts across California and Oregon and awareness of the increasing need to conserve water. Irrigated versus dry farmed wines has become a hot button issue for debate.
There is much discussion about the purity of wine produced under systems of irrigation, with some critics of irrigation even saying unnatural quantities of water interfere with the wine’s taste. Whether or not this argument holds any water - pardon the pun, the fact remains that reducing water usage in wine production is vital.
Dry farming making is a practice of conserving and retaining soil moisture to support the vines without supplemental irrigation. This time honored practice is not only revered in Europe, but in many cases it is legally mandated, meaning that water conservation is enough of a concern that there are industry standards in place to prevent the use of irrigation.
There are many wineries in the United states using dry farming techniques and many, like top Willamette Valley wine producers, are deeply and proudly committed to the practice. Wine makers say there is a distinct advantage to dry farmed wine in that it tends to produce smaller berries which are highly prized for their skin to juice ratio and wonderful flavor. These grapes are intense and express more of the characteristics of the vineyard itself as a deeper root system (necessary for dry farming) means more contact with the soil.
Willamette Valley wine is produced by people who value the practice of dry farming and are invested in a culture of sustainability and stewardship of the land. Not to mention the wine is fabulous!