Wine Down Eugene September 18 – 24
I just returned from the 2nd Annual Oenocamp at Kramer Vineyards, where I became part of the harvesting crew for a day. Oenocamp takes place each year at the gorgeous hilltop vineyards at Kramer, where wine enthusiasts are given the chance to find out what it takes to produce sparkling wine at one of Oregon’s up and coming signature sparkling wine facilities. With 30 years of Oregon winegrowing under their belts, the Kramer’s know what they’re doing when it comes to growing and producing fine Oregon wines.
Kim’s first success at producing a sparkling wine (from excess Chardonnay grapes) was at Salem’s St. Innocent Winery in 2006, where she had been working since 2000 – beginning in the tasting room. Her time at St. Innocent encouraged her to think about pursuing a career in winemaking. Kim joined the winemaking team at her family’s business, Kramer Vineyards, in 2008, and in 2009 the first Brut vintage was released. In 2010, Kim worked harvest in Burgundy, France, and she brought her knowledge back home to Oregon and Kramer Vineyards, where she continues to produce not only excellent sparkling wine but still wine, as well.
Although the plan for Oenocamp was to pick the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used for the production of their sparkling wine, last week’s spike in heat caused an earlier than planned harvest of those particular grapes, so our Oenocamp group headed out to the vineyards to pick Pinot Gris.
With buckets and sheers in hand, after enjoying coffee and delicious cinnamon rolls from Maggie’s Buns, we headed into the many rows of vines at the top of the vineyards, where valley and vineyard views were simply breathtaking. Our group of Oenocampers picked enough grapes to fill 12 bins, equaling about 5.5 tons, which went straight to the sorting line and into the press – enough for three press loads and nine hours of pressing juice.
After the first press load was done, Kim showed off her sabering skills by slicing off the top of a Kramer Vineyards 2011 Brut with a machete, and we all toasted the 2013 vintage with a glass of the Brut; dry, crisp, refreshing and down-right delicious – a stellar sparkling wine for a harvest celebration. Ambrosial quiche, salad, fruit and bread (also from Maggie’s Buns) were served up for lunch next to the vineyards, and we were able to enjoy both the 2010 and 2011 Brut sparkling wines.
Since Oenocamp started early in the morning on a Monday, we stayed the night before and the night after the event at one of three vacation homes at the gorgeous Stoller Family Estate, located in the heart of Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills. Staying in Stoller’s Cottage at the Pond was an incredible experience and included an amazing tasting with Stoller winemaker Melissa Burr, Marketing Communications Manager, Betsy Hannnaford, and Stoller’s brand new Business Development Manager, James Falvey. The one year old tasting room at Stoller is simply stunning. Salvaged wood from a fire that took place in southern Oregon graces the ceilings and mimic the rolling hills of Dundee. A terrace just outside the floor to ceiling walls of windows (that lift up like garage doors) have views of the vineyard blocks as they gracefully climb up the rolling hills – it’s absolutely gorgeous. As guests staying in the Cottage at the Pond, which can be booked through VRBO.com, we checked into our cozy house to find a welcome bottle of the 2009 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. Sitting under some tumultuous looking skies on the patio of the Cottage, we enjoyed every sip of the dark cherry, earthy, mushroomy, stellar Pinot Noir.
Follow me over to WineJulia.com for a fantastic photo essay of Oenocamp at Kramer Vineyards. I’ll also be writing in detail about our time at Stoller and the many incredible wines we tasted during our stay. Cheers.