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Teutonic Traubenwerkzeug Blanc 2013
Without a clue as to how to start or find investors for financial backing, we (Barnaby and Olga) started on a long journey into one of Oregon’s most difficult industries- the wine business. As our luck would have it, a friend of ours offered her fallow farm land in Alsea, Ore., to start a vineyard. So in 2005, along with a handful of good friends, we put 2000 vines into the ground, mostly Pinot Noir and some Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc. As we were learning how to manage the vineyard, Barnaby left his restaurant career and started as a rookie at a shared winery facility in Carlton.
Because we love the wines from the Mosel Valley so much, we began traveling there every summer and have met many local producers who make superb Rieslings. As we got to know them, we convinced some of them to let us import small quantities to the U.S. [Most local wineries in these small villages sell directly to customers and don’t bother exporting their wines out of the country because of the hassles associated with the paperwork and delayed payments.] Through time, we have made good friends there and look forward to our annual visits. In addition to importing their wines, these winemakers have been very helpful with sharing their winemaking techniques with us. Thanks to this exposure, our wines, especially our Rieslings, are known for being stylistically close to the wines of the Mosel, Alsace and other old world winemaking regions.
We produced our first commercial vintage in 2008: two barrels of Pinot Noir from our estate vineyard and three barrels of Pinot Meunier made with fruit from a U-pick vineyard. From there, we have increased our production by purchasing fruit from vineyards in colder sites, higher elevation and always look for dry-farmed vines that are ideally 30 years old or more.
Today, Teutonic Wine Company produces roughly 5,000 cases of wine per year, including a rich variety of wines that are typical to the Germany’s Mosel region. These varietals include Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chasselas, Gewürztramer, Silvaner, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. All the wines we make, with the exception of one blend, are single vineyard wines.
One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a Mediterranean climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and winter.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. Silty, loess soils are found in the Chehalem Mountains.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of white grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.