October 31, 2008

More winemaking, and some wine drinking

My bins of Oregon pinot noir are still fermenting in the garage, and smelling great. I love how pinot ferments smell as they get near the end. The sweet fruit smells are replaced by winey, spicy smells that can touch on roasted coffee at the very end. The viscous sweet juice is now mostly dry, with a thinner consistency that splashes with more rapidly. The foam created by fermentation has gone from purple to a whitish pink color, the bubbles much less persistent. So much of the winemaking process is apparent to the discriminate eye and nose, rather than the vulgar mouth.

Punchdowns become more gentle, still twice a day but soon just once a day to wet the weakening cap of grape skins, still pushed up by carbon dioxide but with much less authority than a few days ago. The goal now is to get savory character into the wine, augmenting rather than simply replacing the fresh fruit character. Taste the new wine daily and let it go as long as no bitterness or excessive tannin shows up. Press when the skins have nothing more to offer the wine. Based on how things are going, I'll be pressing early next week as I originally imagined.

Meanwhile, things are just past peak at the winery where I"m working. The fruit's all been in for more than a week, which is always a great milestone to reach. But the work at that point's just begun. Everything this past week has been at one stage of fermentation or another, meaning twice daily punchdowns for just about everything, more than 40 tons of grapes. And heating and cooling fermentations, pump overs to cool bins that get too hot or aerate things that stink a bit. We taste all the fermenters each day. Now we're getting into draining and pressing, meaning work setting up and cleaning the press, but earning the dividend of fewer fermentations to deal with. We need to prep barrels, fill them with wine, then clean out empty fermenters. There's so much to do, but in about a week from now things should be close to the end, and the few ferments that remain won't take nearly as much time to guide as 30 or more at once do.

Of course, we try our best to drink some wine during harvest as well. The other morning a nice guy brought a bottle of 2005 Domaine Dominique Mugneret Nuits St. Georges "Les Fleurieres" for a late breakfast. I was handed a glass blind between punchdowns and from the smell thought it might be from Oregon. Black fruit, toasty oak, not giving up much nuance. In the mouth it was another story. Brightly acidic, a bit too wood dominated but showing nice rich pinot fruit. Withe time, a beautiful floral aroma developed. Still, this needs time if it's going to integrate the wood.

The other night, a few people gathered at Bar Avignon in SE Portland to have a few bottles and eat some dinner. What a great place, and we had some nice wines as well. First, the 2005 Sine Qua Non "The Petition" white wine, a mix of chardonnay, roussane, and viognier from California. Lots of roussane on the nose, with waxy notes and well integrated oak. I expected this to be extremely oaky, but it seems nicely balanced in that regard. In the mouth, this was huge, with all 15.8% of its alcohol, a baked apple flavor of chardonnay and what I now understand as a pleasant bitterness that must be from the viognier. Long, long finish, probably too much alcohol and just a bit over the top, still this was really interesting to drink. Thanks Michael Alberty, who was right to wish that we had some lobster to eat with it.

I brought something completely different, the 1995 Domaine Trevallon from the Provence region of southern France. I hoped it would show some bottle sweetness from 13 years of age, but it was really youthful and frankly not all that generous. Yet, I hope. Lots of earthy, gravel and cassis and blackberry aromas, with a stern flavor that needs more time. I liked it, but didn't love it.

Instead, I was fascinated by another of Micheal's contributions, a 100% merlot from Italy whose name escapes me. Not knowing anything about it, I guessed cabernet franc, as it showed a pleasant gravel, cassis, and herb character not unlike some Loire wines, just with a bit more body and oomph. Technical term, that. Anybody, help with the name here. Darmiljan?

Then a few California reds, such at the 2003 Shafer Relentless, a syrah and petite syrah blend that's just too oaky for my tastes. Also, a 2004 Burrell School Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains that was called a pinot for cab lovers. Nothing subtle here, I didn't love it but it's a good enough drink. And a grenache blend from Terry Hoague that simply showed too much alcohol for me to cozy up to. Impressive wine to taste, but not for drinking in my humble opinion. I'm always in the minority on these wines it seems, so call it more my flawed palate than any indicator of quality.

The point here -- what a good time sharing wines during harvest, enjoying some simple but delicious food, and generally just hanging out in between lengthy stints working hard in the winery and then guiding my humble home brew to a happy conclusion. One more week and...well, it won't be over, but it will be close.

October 29, 2008

More winemaking at home

Things are continuing well on the home winemaking front. When we last left off, the three bins of pinot noir were still cold soaking in the garage while I had a natural fermentation starter warming up in the house.

I spent a good bit of time warming the garage with a space heater, an aquarium heater in the bins themselves, even my warm car. Anything to get the air temp up and then the must temp to get the conditions right for fermentation.

Once the temperature was in the 60s, I poured part of the starter in the center of each bin and left it to give the natural yeast a boost in reproduction. The next morning there were signs of fermentation but nothing vigorous. There were also some acetone smells, something that drives winemakers crazy, especially those who think natural fermentation is stupid. I smell acetone in varying degrees in lots of ferments, especially at the beginning before any yeast has gotten established, whether you added it or not.

The idea is that once the ferment warms, the acetone producing yeast will die off and the smell itself will either blow off by fermentation action or be metabolized by the yeast. Not sure, honestly, what it is, but sure enough that smell is long gone now.

After another day, the ferments were really going, producing lots of carbon dioxide that pushes a "cap" of grape skins above the surface of the liquid, just as yeast in bread dough cause it to rise. I punch down the cap in the morning and at night to moderate temperature in the bins, and especially to get the skins in contact with the liquid so that the aromas and flavors continue to get into the new wine.

Here's a picture of the bins with high caps. Notice that the grapes are a few inches higher than they were during the cold soaks.

Here's a close up of one bin to get a better look. As the ferment continues, the color of the grapes turn from the dark purple / blue we saw before to something much more ruby like.

Over the last two days, the fermentations have hit a peak of up to 92F in the cap, mid to upper 80s below. Things are now down to the low 80s in the cap, upper 70s below. We're down to around 7 brix, so there's still lots of sugar to go before the new wines are dry. My goal, after pushing the temperature a bit given my small fermentation vessels, is to let things ride easy from here on out to give the wine as much time on the skins as possible. We'll see how long things can go.

October 26, 2008

Winemaking 2008

On Saturday, October 18, I got half a ton of really nice pinot noir grapes from a highly regarded local vineyard. After processing the fruit -- destemming and lightly crushing some of the berries, and adding sulfur dioxide -- the grape must has been soaking in my cold garage before fermentation starts.

First, I have the must in three Rubbermaid bins beehived to create as much of a thermal mass as possible, and still allow me to move the bins around a bit without a forklift.

The cold soak allows the grape skins to give their color and flavors to the juice early in the winemaking process. The goal is to extract as much as possible before alcohol is present, because alcohol is a solvent that will pull astringent qualities out of the seeds, skins, and any stem parts in the bins. That's going to happen to some degree, as sugar becomes alcohol during fermentation. The idea is to have any of that happen at the end of the process, rather than crushing the grapes, fermenting the juice to wine, then letting everything sit for days and days until the wine has everything from the grapes that you want. So far, there's lots of color in the juice.

After several days of this cold maceration, I took some juice and gapes from each bin into a tub and brought it into the house to make a fermentation starter. Rather than adding yeast, I warmed the starter and allowed fermentation to happen spontaneously. Already it's beginning to bubble with the temperature close to 70F.

Once I get the bins up to around 65F, I'll add this starter in part to each bin to prime the fermentation. Heating the bins means heating the garage with a space heater, rotating an aquarium heater through each bin, even parking a warm car in the garage to keep the air temp up. If I get any funky smells, such as ethyl acetate that smells like nail polish remover, I'll entertain using dried yeast to get fermentation going. So far so good, and in my experience I've never had an issue fermenting without adding yeast.

October 22, 2008

Copyright bullshit

A note from the management of Elevage to all third party content aggregators using content from this site on your site without permission.

Stop it.

That means you, "w-i-n-e-w-o-n-k-s" and any others out there. No, I'm not interested in being part of your ad driven websites. You're not finding me readers. You're generating money for yourselves.

I don't appreciate your taking content without clear attribution. I don't recall ever being asked to participate. I wouldn't agree to it anyway.

So I'm going to have to state the obvious that all content on Elevage is copyrighted by Vincent Fritzsche, any usage or reproduction of content from Elevage is prohibited without express written consent from me, Vincent Fritzsche.

Jesus Christ. Is that really necessary? How pathetic are people?

Ok, back to wine.

October 21, 2008

Home wine, day 4

My half ton of pinot noir is still soaking in the garage, hanging out around 51F. I'd like it a bit lower but then again I'd like it to start fermenting in a day or three. It smells clean and fresh. Tonight is clear and cold again, so I have the doors open to let the cold air in. I'll let it ride. Guidance without much intervention.

Talking with a winemaking friend this evening while doing a few punchdowns, I was reminded about his thoughts after the 2006 vintage, that he might have tried to get a bit more out of the grapes that year than he did. This year is more classically balanced than 2006, with better acidity and not the potential overripeness. Just the conditions to not hold back and soak the must too briefly and ferment too quickly. Instead, why not let things go three weeks if they can, to get the most out of the grapes, with better depth and complexity in the finished wine.

So I'm not going to push the start of fermentation too much. And I'll see how long I can go before pressing. Election Day is in two weeks. I thought maybe that's when pressing might happen, 17 days after harvest, though that was a rough plan, nothing exact. But why not see if we can hold on? I think the more winey wines are made from longer vatting. Early pressing preserves the fresh fruit, and while I don't want to lose all the freshness, I want wine that smells and tastes winey, not just fruity. As long as things don't show any bitterness or hard tannin, I'm on board to let things go as long as I can.

That's where things stand tonight. Meanwhile, those with fruit still hanging are looking at terrific final ripening. My favorite forecaster has tw0 70F days in the 7-day forecast, with some mid to upper 60s as well. Crazy nice weather for this time of year. It's late October after all. Lots of people have great grapes in the cellar already. Some people are going to bring in incredible stuff, provided rot hasn't set in too much. This is a nice year for Oregon pinot noir, very nice.

October 20, 2008

Winemaking at home

As I mentioned before, I got a half ton of nice pinot noir grapes two days ago, on Saturday. I destemmed and lightly crushed them at a local facility, adding a moderate dose of sulfur dioxide (SO2) to protect the juice during a few days of "cold soak" before starting fermentation.

I brought the crushed grapes, or must, home Saturday evening in three Rubbermaid Brute bins that are now in my garage. The fruit was cold, but Sunday morning I went to the grocery store and bought several pounds of dry ice at the fish counter to add to the bins to keep things chilled. I'm also keeping the garage door open before I go to bed to let the cool night air in.

Cold soaking is the process of macerating the newly crushed grapes to gently allow the color, flavors, and aromas locked in the red grape skins to soak into the wine. Think of it as you would marinating a steak. Each day the juice gets darker and more vibrant red / purple. After maybe four or five days, I'll warm the must to encourage fermenation to begin naturally.

What I'm looking for now are sweet fruit smells, rather than nail polish or vinegar smells that can reduce wine quality. That's VA, which I wrote about last time. I gently stir the bins once a day during the cold soak, and if I smell anything bad, I might spritz the surface of the must with SO2. Anything bad that persists and I'll kick off fermentation right then, as the early signs of VA are often due to cold tolerate yeast and bacteria that quickly get taken over by a vigorous fermentation. The volatile smells even get metabolized, or at least have a chance to blow off as the fermentation produces so much CO2.

Temperatures in the bins are all 49F, actually a little high. I think I'd rather see something closer to 40F to reduce any chance of VA issues right now. In the 50-65F range, bad things can grow quickly so to "kick off" fermentation, I'll look to warm the must to 65F where good yeasts can quickly grow and dominate things.

In order to do the natural fermentation, I think I'll begin to make a starter tomorrow night, much as you would with naturally fermentated bread dough. I'll take a small amount of must in a pail and bring it inside the house to allow it to get going. Once it's going nicely, I'll use it to innoculate the bins to jump start them into fermenation. It's also a nice chance to see if I might have issues with the natural yeast on these grapes, as I haven't worked with this site before (though I know at least one winery that's made wine naturally from here for years, and done very well).

Finally, the numbers. My simple hydrometer reading shows 23 brix, or 23% sugar, in the must. That's just about ideal for elegant pinot noir, provided the flavors are ripe, and they are. That will translate into an alcohol level in the low to mid 13% range, depending on the conversion of sugar into alcohol during fermentation. Someone else with some of these grapes did more specific analysis on this block of the vineyard. The results showed 23.1 brix and 3.27ph, the latter also about perfect for my goal of acid strength being around 3.3, again assuming the good flavors are there.

All told, I'm still really excited about my wine for this year. I'll write more as I finish the cold soak, go through fermenation, and eventually press the wine. If things go well, that might happen on Election Day, which is already something I'm anticipating highly.

October 19, 2008


VA stands for volatile acidity, a malady in most table wines. Acetic acid is the most common volatile acid in wine. Know the smell of vinegar? That's acetic acid.

VA in pinot noir is particularly egregious, because great pinot noir is all about purity and elegant perfume. Some wines can benefit from a little VA, in particular Rhone wines. The volatility can enhance or "lift" a wine's aroma. But in pinot noir, I hate it.

The other day I noticed a 2004 Pinot Noir from a local producer in a discount store. Sometimes this store has incredible buys, and though I've never had any wines from this particular producer, I'd read some good things on the internet from a source I trust.

Beware what you read on the internet.

This wine is so riddled with VA that I simply can't, or at least won't, drink it. The only redeeming quality here is the reminder to carefully monitor my upcoming fermentation, maintain a high level of cleanliness, and be smart about sulfur dioxide. SO2 is essential to prevent VA. I'm not sure what happened with this wine, but I'm going to work hard to keep it from happening to mine.

October 18, 2008



After a long search and a late harvest, I got my half ton of Willamette Valley pinot noir grapes. Again this year, I can't talk about where they're from. But the quality is top drawer, grapes fit for a commercial winery, exactly what I was looking for.

Most home winemakers put up with u-pick vineyards that generally aren't farmed attentively. You can make good wine if you're picky about the source, but in my experience you more likely will end up with junky grapes that turn into junky wine that perpetuates the assumption that homemade wine isn't very good.

I learned quickly that you need the best grapes you can find, and that sourcing those grapes is paramount. With some hard work and some luck, I have some nice fruit in my garage and I'm really happy about it. Really happy.

I'll get into more specifics as we go. I'm looking at soaking the grapes for a few days, meaning I'll keep the crushed grapes and juice as cool as possible to allow color, flavor, and aroma to soak into the juice from the grape skins before fermenting the juice into wine. If all goes well, fermentation will start later next week and I'll press off the new wine in about 18 days or so. If you're interested, stay tuned.

Willamette Valley harvest

The pinot noir harvest is in full swing here in the Willamette Valley. Things are looking terrific.

After a cold spring and relatively cool summer, the quality of this year's grape crop came down to October weather. The month began with some rain and below average temperatures. The past two weeks turned mostly dry and often sunny, cooler than average but with some nice sunlit afternoons that have helped push grapes to ripeness.

I've been helping out at local wineries for the past few years. In 2005, all the grapes were in by October 12 where I was working. In 2006, only some late harvest whites came in later than mid-October. Last year, everything was in by October 14.

In 2008, grapes didn't start coming in for the most part before this past week, and that's true for most pinot noir makers all over the area. It's not often that we have a mid-October and later harvest. This weekend is probably the peak of harvest, with rain slated for Monday. Some vineyards will hang on though, needing some more days to really get ripe.

So far the fruit I've seen looks great. Nice flavors, moderate and slightly higher sugars, with bright acids that make the fruit taste a bit more tart than the sugars indicate. That's ideal stuff for great pinot noir. Plenty of ripeness, but not too much, with good acidity to give freshness and length to the wines.

For my homemade wine, things are also looking great. My grape source backed out on my last weekend suddenly. Happily, I've found another source that's more attractive and, best yet, I'm getting the fruit today. I'm ready to make some of my own wine.

October 11, 2008

2005 Daedalus Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

I simply don't have any Eyrie Vineyard wine that's ready to open. Daivd Lett made wines that demand time. I hear he was pretty demanding, too.

Instead, I picked the 2005 Daedalus Pinot Noir Willamette Valley for dinner tonight. We needed something fragrant and delicious and this fit the bill.

On its own, this garnet colored wine smelled of cherries and leafy herbs, with a bit of leather suede. With some broiled tri-tip and brown rice, the fruit came forward along with an earthy nuance that suggests the Pommard clone of pinot noir.

In the mouth, this wine is lean and acidic, and yet round and plush with a vegetal element that's again more attractive with food. There's a clear soil note, with a Pommard-like ashy quality that lingers with juicy acidity.

This is beautiful Oregon pinot noir. Not so fruit centered and gushing, perhaps more challenging and complex, truly better with dinner and very good at that. The grapes here come from some of the best vineyards in Oregon, including Seven Springs and Maresh. The quality of those sites show here.

And I'd bet a few bucks this is all or mostly Pommard. Anyone know?

October 10, 2008

David Lett dies at 69

The father of Oregon pinot noir, David Lett of the Eyrie vineyard, died Thursday night at home in Dundee. Read more here.

If you enjoy Oregon pinot noir, or Oregon wine for that matter, you owe this man some thanks and serious respect. If you work in the Oregon wine business, or if you aspire to as I do, you might even owe him your livelihood.

Richard Sommer started the HillCrest vineyard down in the Umpqua Valley back in 1961, apparently the first real planting post-prohibition. But David Lett and his wife Diana planted the Eyrie Vineyard in the Dundee Hills of Yamhill County in 1966. Their planting started the modern Willamette Valley wine industry. Without them, with David leading the way, things just wouldn't be as they are. Hundreds of wineries and thousands of acres of grapes, led by the pinot noir.

I never met David but saw him a couple of times, the last time at a restaurant in McMinnville just before the 2007 harvest began. He was on oxygen and looked frail. That, his family around him, and my rightful modesty kept me from interrupting to gush about how I owe him for even being able to dream about making wine here in Oregon.

But a part of me wishes I could have somehow communicated that without being a bother. It can't ever get old hearing praise, can it? Maybe so if you're trying to eat your lunch in peace.

So this will have to do. Thank you David Lett, for everything. I spent much of today tasting fruit in a number of local vineyards, planning for the impending harvest. What a joy.

This afternoon I found myself on a hillside outside of Yamhill in weak but still warm sunshine. I saw vineyards draped across the low hills, the canopies still mostly green, every vine in sight patiently hanging fruit, the valley below colored in soft greens and yellows of early fall. Impatient birds made most of the noise. Otherwise there was silence, just but the faint hum of cities and a truck down the road unloading picking bins.

Harvest is beginning like a swell, 42 years since the Eyrie vineyard went in the ground. The vines continue to give more each year, a metaphor for Mr. Lett, enduring.

October 07, 2008

Harvest in Oregon must be close

Still no grapes harvested where I'm working again this year. My past three years working harvest, we'd be half done or more. This is a late year, and the weather's tenuous. But judging from some hours of fermenter washing, harvest must be close. Right? From what I'm hearing, crushpads here in Oregon have never been cleaner, what with harvest crews on standby with nothing else to do as they wait for grapes.

Tomorrow some southern Oregon fruit is due in. Should be picked in the morning, on the road all afternoon, arriving at night for a late evening of processing. That'll be only a taste of what's to come, wiht this weekend and beyond packed with picks before the next expected significant rains a week from Thursday. Sure, that's pretty far out for weather forecasting. But this time of year in Oregon, it's a safe bet to say rain's on the way.

So far though things are holding up nicely. Sugars aren't high, acids are, but flavors are coming along. Vineyards have been so healthy that they should continue to stand up to the intermittant rain we're seeing. Sunny weather later this week, even with cool temps, should be nice for drying things out and finishing ripening. Vineyards that aren't ready by mid next week will likely hang through more, perhaps signficant rain. Hold on to your hats.

October 06, 2008

More Dressner wines in Oregon

I'd heard some weeks back that Triage Wines was rumored to be taking on Oregon distribution of all Louis/Dressner Selections. Looks like that was true, and judging by just one listing in the latest Liner & Elsen wine shop newsletter, Oregon wine fans should be pleased.

Triage, a Seattle-based distributor with arguably the best book of French producers in Oregon, was long constrained in the variety of Louis/Dressner selections it could represent locally. In Washington, Triage had everything in the LDM book. But the Oregon operation had to split things with at least one other distributor, the result being that some Dressner wines simply didn't make it to our local market.

Triage is apparently changing that. Take Domaine Filliatreau from the Samur-Champigny region of France's Loire valley. For a few years, I noticed I could find these wines across the border in the otherwise wine desert of Clark County, the southwest Washington region that's part of the Portland metro area and home to The Couv. That's Vancouver, WA, not BC. It's essentially the 909, or maybe the OC before it allegedly became hip. The point is, you don't have to cross the river to try to find these wines. We now have them and others right here in the friendly confines of Portland.

If you're interested, Filliatreau makes terrific and well-priced cabernet franc-based red wines. Now, these wine are available in Oregon. Liner & Elsen has the basic Samur from 2006 Filliatreau's Chateau Fouquet label featured this month for $15. I haven't found time to try this one, but judging by all of my past experiences with this producer, you won't be sorry.

Otherwise, in these value oriented times, check out the Dressner portfolio. I pulled out two not so recent purchases from the "cellar" recently and neither dissapointed. The first I knew well. The second I bought only because of the importer's label. If you see "Louis/Dressner" on the back label and you're curious, buy it.

First, the 2004 Jean Paul Brun "Terres Dorees" Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes. Forget about Beaujolais not aging. It does. But did you know that the Wine Advocate gave 90 points to the latest release of this wine, the 2007? What's next, Parker and his acolytes will praise Valtellina?

This 2004 from Brun is maturing, with a hint of orange on the rim and a gorgeous gamay fragrance of cherries and wet earth. The wine is light bodied but deceptively flavorful, with bottle sweet flavors that are akin to caramelization in cooking, fresh and mature at once, carried by tart, juicy acidity. This might not be sipping wine for most folks, but I love it. With dinner, it's almost great.

Then the 2003 Mouthes le Bihan Vieillefont from the Cotes des Duras of the Lot-et-Garonne region southeast of Bordeaux. The grapes are merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and malbec. The wine is purple ruby in color, with a berry aroma and flavor that's savory and sweet at once. I've seen reports of brett in this wine, and there might be a little activity from that "spoilage yeast" here, evident in its animal or band aid character. But this bottle was delicious, mostly clean with a nice balance of rich fruit and savory herbs, without excess tannin I find in some wines from the hot 2003 vintage. Again, for not a lot of money, this is characterful French wine that I want to drink more of. You should too.

October 01, 2008

Happier topics - Harvest is approaching

My visit to the Wahle vineyard the other day gave me a nice chance to check up on the progress of this year's pinot noir crop here in the northern Willamette Valley.

A couple weeks ago, some of the various clones in this vineyard still weren't fully through veraison, when red grapes actually gain their red/purple/black color. Spring was downright chilly and everything started slow. Summer was a bit cool, so things really never caught up. Just like Portlanders' tomatoes, the grapes have matured late this year.

September started pretty warm and dry. Then we saw some light rain, nothing to be worried about. The past week has been beautiful, with temperatures in the mid 70s to nearly 90 every day. Average this time of year is 70F, so we've been way ahead. Bear in mind that this time of year it's often nice if it's not rainy and 60F. Hence the middle of the road average.

All that warmth means the clusters in the Wahle vineyard at least have softened noticeably, with sugars rising and the grape skins giving up some rich color when pinched in your hand. Still, the flavors aren't quite there and the acids are still pretty tart. Harvest is more than a week away here.

And wouldn't you know it, after today's high clouds and mid 70s temperatures, we now expect rain and wind for a number of days. I've learned from old timers to worry less and let the fruit hang until it's ready, especially in years like this when disease pressure has been markedly low and the grape vines are still looking green and strong. Once the leaves start yellowing, even sunshine won't help too much if the leaves aren't working properly. So I'm taking advantage of the wisdom around me, the hope of more sun and dry weather next week, and the fact that I'm not making wine commercially yet. What do I have to lose?

Driving around Yamhill county, I've yet to see anyone picking. I've heard of some lower elevation sites already coming in, but pretty much everyone's going to ride out whatever mother nature has in store. After last year and 2005, when we saw some good rains yet made some tasty wines, I'm excited to see what happens.

Oregon LNG pipeline and the Wahle vineyard

Things are tense out in certain parts of Yamhill county. Drive around and you'll see plenty of "No LNG" signs. They refer to the proposed Liquefied Natural Gas pipeline slated to run from a provisionally approved LNG terminal on the Columbia river south through some key vineyard land in the heart of Oregon wine country.

Many vineyards could be impacted, depending on the route or routes chosen for the pipeline. One path would go right through Ken Wright's vineyard to be planted imminently on Withycombe Road. Another route focused on the Blackburn Road area would take out Stag Hollow's best south slope, and much of the historic Wahle vineyard. If you're interested in the land around places like Yamhill and Carlton, check out this pipeline map.

Yes, I've bought grapes from Wahle and hope to again in the future. Perhaps I have a conflict of interest here. I want to buy grapes from Wahle. So I'm sympathetic, right? But think about it. How can I buy if the majority of this vineyard might be torn out -- including the prime 35 year old Pommard block?

I don't want to see this vineyard ruined to accommodate an unnecessary conduit for natural gas from Russia, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Iran, brought around the world to heat US homes when we apparently have some of the largest sources of natural gas on the planet. I'm a gloabally focused guy. I have no personal issues with individuals in those countries. But I sure as hell don't want their governments benefiting from us tearing out some of our most prized agricultural assets here at home. Let's not even get started about alternative energy.

You see, once the pipeline goes in, there's no planting vines on top of it. Building the pipeline would apparently require a construction zone at least 45 feet wide, with some plans showing the line traversing land diagonally. That greatly increases the impact of construction, and according to Betty Wahle, there's no planting on top of the pipeline once it's in. She's facing the loss of a major portion of her vineyard, its past and future. There are many more in the area facing the same fate.

The other day, I went out to the vineyard to be there among a small group meeting Yamhill county commissioners and local press touring impacted sites and hearing from people concerned about the looming impact of the LNG project. The case was made, and the commissioners now have an opportunity to interrupt the project, as all county boards apparently have. It seems the final say will come from the governor, Ted Kulongoski. So if you're inclined, bug him about it.

And in the interest of fair and balanced reporting (someone's got to do it), read about Oregon Pipeline here. Notice they never mention where the gas comes from. And read No LNG Oregon First here. Sure, they're excited. But shouldn't they be?