Ok, so be warned this post is kinda geeky. I completely understand that most people just want to sip on wine & don't care to know about where it comes from much less the kind of DIRT it grows in. However, for me, this is just so freaking cool. It would be like.....meeting the star player of your favorite athletic team...I guess.
Anyway, so the final seminar of OPC 2009 was a soil seminar at Penner Ash Cellars. Not only is Penner Ash special because of the incredible pinot noirs that Lynn Penner Ash makes but also because it has two distinctive soil types on the estate. These two soil types, volcanic & sedimentary, are within oh maybe 100 yards of each other on the Penner Ash grounds. That fact alone shows how diverse the Willmette Valley is & how this affects the pinot noir grape.
My group was sent inside first to blind taste through a series of wines that were grown on the two different soil types up above us in the vineyard. I would have PREFERRED to have gone through the soil trenches first to feel the dirt in my hands & smell the soil types before tasting but...oh well.
It was shocking the difference between the two. The sedimentary soil wines were firmer & had a gripping tannin to them. Amazing, a real "lightbulb" moment for me.
After the glasses were drained (I mean C'MON! It was the last day of OPC & the last seminar so I wasn't spitting as much but I still had a clear head) we donned our sunglasses & headed back up to the vineyard. The OPC staff had dug a trench in to the soil in a staircase sort of way so that we could walk down into the ground & run our hands through the soil. The volcanic soil was gritty & rust colored & felt like large pieces of red rock that were hollow. On the other side the sedimentary was striated down in the ground with alternating layers of dark & chalky white soil. About 10 feet down I could see the layers of soil were saturated with moisture, so much so that the water was running out of that layer in rivulets.
At the end of it we climbed out of the dirt made our way to the big tent, popped open a very much needed cold beer & sat down. Lynn Penner Ash, Sam Tannahil (of Francis Tannahil & A to Z) & Leigh Bartholomew (vineyard manager of Archery Summit) fielded a few questions as we drained our cold brews. I kept looking over the treeline telling myself NOT to break out in a sprint no matter how close Shea Vineyard was. But mostly I was just soaking it all in & not wanting OPC to end. I was becoming nostalgic for it as it was happening.
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