Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 1 Pinot Camp

Sunday morning, day 1 of Oregon Pinot Camp (OPC) came quite early. Even though I was a good boy & went back to my hotel early, & didn't go to Lumpys, that alarm clock was still a little jarring. However, I quickly realized that I was in Willamette Valley & was about to embark on a magical experience. That woke me up fairly quickly! I put on my super fluffy robe & sauntered down to the shared Euro style bathroom & showered. Once clean, I dressed appropriately comfortable & headed down to the bakery next door to grab a coffee. I hopped into my rental & drove the 1.5 miles to the McMinnville Comfort Inn where my bus (RED BUS! WE'RE HOT!) was picking up. I was one of the first up by the bus so I offered to help my camp counselor decorate said bus. We lined the bus with red streamers, flames & other sorts of "inferno" type things. As more people started filing in the counselors popped open Argyle Brut 2000 sparkling wine a super delicious 60/40 pinot noir chardonnay blend. What a way to start the day! They had orange juice on hand for mimosas but screw that! I didn't want to sully my beautiful bubbles with OJ! We finally loaded onto the bus & headed off to our first destination. Upon arriving at Evergreen Vineyards & Aerospace Museum we were greeted by a gorgeous breakfast spread with local salmon, homemade pastries, local eggs, local berries & delicious coffee. We ate adjacent to the famous Spruce Goose of Howard Hughes fame. That plane was the size of Rhode Island! It was HUGE!! At breakfast I met two very nice people from Arkansas, Erin & Mark, & a very nice woman from Iowa, Elyn. After breakfast we headed into the IMAX theatre to be introduced to the participating wineries of OPC 2009. A young boy, all of 15 maybe?, walked up to the podium & told us about how his father, the owner/winemaker of Brooks Vineyards, died last year. He explained that everyone up on that stage & throughout the Willamette Valley banded together & helped them finish out the harvest, bottle the wine & pretty much saved them during this horrible time. He said that if it weren't for those people his family's winery wouldn't have made it through. I imagine it would have been difficult to find a dry eye in that place. After the introductions we watched a brand new HD film about the birth & future of the Willamette Valley's wine industry. I hope this film gets released on the web because it truly was a moving piece about a marginal area & the dreams & aspirations of a small group of dreamers who strive to create world-class wine.

Next it was back on the Red bus & on to Archery Summit Vineyards for a seminar on winemaking. The barrel room at AS was cool, moist & dark with a multitude of barrels holding sleeping wine. We were led through a series of three different stations about three different stages of wine making.

Station A:
1. Harvest
-Determining ripeness

2. Reception
-Equipment & processes

Station B:
3. Pre-Ferment
-Modification of Must
-Additions to Must

-Management of Extraction
-Pressing-Managing Tannins & Texture

Station C:
5. Aging


After these in depth seminars with the likes of Jason Lett & David Adelsheim we were treated to a delicious wine country lunch out on the gorgeous patio overlooking the valley. Red Hills Provincial Dining catered a lunch of roast pork sandwiches, minted pea salad & a few other delicious little things that are escaping me now.

As we dug into the yummy spread all of us were gazing around at the beautiful scenery & beginning to make friends with one another. Most everyone there was open, friendly & cool but there were a few pompous wine jerks who thought they were the be all end all of wine. Cmon!! Get over yourselves! Anyway, I digress. The conversations swirled from Txakolina to gruner to expectations of the rest of Camp. We were an interesting bunch, some from Iowa & Tennessee, some from Chicago, Charlotte, Vegas, UK. All in all everyone was just ecstatic to be there & loving every minute of it.


Samantha Dugan said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip Michael! Man do I know "those" people, I once called my husband halfway through a trip in France and asked him to get me out of there for fear I was going to kick some guys ass! Thankfully I stayed and much like you basked in the company of like minded, cool people that love wine.

Michael Hughes said...

It was a truly magical trip! Its nice when you can shake off those silly blowhards (they're everywhere aren't they?) & enjoy yourself right? One of these days I'll get to day.