Why Cellar Season?

#WVcellarseason – January 1, 2019

Once January hits, it can feel as though all of wine country has paused to catch a breath, and it’s not as easy to see what’s happening in the very important next step of the winemaking process… Read full article


What is Cellar Season?

Why Do We Call It Cellar Season?

The Very Important Next Step

During harvest, winemaking is front and center: visitors to most wineries can see grapes being crushed, tanks being punched down, and barrels being filled. But once January hits, it can feel as though all of wine country has paused to catch a breath, and it’s not as easy to see what’s happening in the very important next step of the winemaking process.

That’s Cellar Season — the time of year when wines are undergoing the slower maturation process in barrel or tank after their comparatively fast fermentation. And just like the wines, industry folks from the tasting room to the production team are turning their focus on rejuvenation, hospitality and reflection.

“I give in to the cyclical nature of wine life,” says Jessica Mozeico, winemaker and co-owner at Et Fille Wines. “Yes, we are busy during the fall and we annoy our friends because we can’t schedule anything other than wine, but then winter comes and it is time to introspect, taste through barrels in silence, think and plan for the year.”

The Quiet Energy of Cellar Season

There’s a quiet energy to the Cellar Season that complements tranquil rainfall and brisk winter chill, and it carries through from the production team to the hospitality staff. “I love cozying up by the fire with our sparkling wines and ports,” says Katie Bass, tasting room manager and wine club manager at Eola Hills Wine Cellars. She adds, “I plan monthly trainings to keep us on our toes and to prep for the busy season. Getting out and about with the team is so valuable: tasting adventures to other wineries, breweries and distilleries, sledding expeditions, and maybe even an escape room outing!”

The wines made from the most recent harvest spend this time in barrel or tank to undergo their secondary (malolactic) fermentation, which affects all red wines and many white wines and creates a smooth texture. This also gives the new wines time to integrate their flavors, and if they’re in oak it’s a crucial process of slowly harmonizing fruit, earth and other characteristics with the aromas and texture that oak itself lends.

By February and March, the red wines of previous vintages are often ready to come out of barrel, and white wines designed for spring drinking and made in a fresh, oak-free style—such as many Pinot gris and almost all Riesling wines—are also ready for the bottling line. Bottling is the first really high-energy time of the winemaking year, and the excitement of the growing season to come is in the air. Meanwhile, there’s no better time to experience the tasting room; wineries take this time of year to focus on intimate and in-depth experiences for their guests, whether they’re seminars, winemaker dinners or barrel tastings.

 

Photo: Elizabeth Chambers Cellars


At Montinore, Maialata Celebrates Food and Life

#WVcellarseason – february 27, 2018

For centuries, the people of rural Northern Italy have taken advantage of the darkest time of year by processing pigs into charcuterie, and sausage, ribs, and roasts that would keep over the harsh winter. This community task ended with a feast celebrating family and hard work… Read full article


Oregon Chardonnay Shows Its Diversity

#WVcellarseason – february 27, 2018

Chardonnay has spent the last several years in the midst of a worldwide rebirth, and Willamette Valley Chardonnay is no exception. While “cool-climate” Chardonnaya response to the ABC (“anything but Chardonnay”) refrain that emphasizes high acid and minimal oak and malolactic influenceshas been emerging for several years in places like New Zealand and Niagara… Read full article


Oregon Chardonnay Shows Its Diversity

Oregon Chardonnay Shows Its Diversity

Chardonnay has spent the last several years in the midst of a worldwide rebirth, and Willamette Valley Chardonnay is no exception. While “cool-climate” Chardonnaya response to the ABC (“anything but Chardonnay”) refrain that emphasizes high acid and minimal oak and malolactic influenceshas been emerging for several years in places like New Zealand and Niagara, the Willamette Valley’s Old World obsession with clonal selection and individual terroir expression has merged with the local creativity and community spirit that has winemakers experimenting with clay amphorae, creating special collaboration Chardonnay lots with their friends for the upcoming Willamette Auction, and demonstrating that there’s no need to try to fit Chardonnay in a single box.

The press has noticed. “Historically, there are two main camps: the New World, heavily oaked, buttery and rich Chardonnays; and the elegant, detailed, mineral-­driven Old World styles,” wrote Paul Gregutt for Wine Enthusiast in January. “Oregon’s vintners can emulate the best of both worlds, while producing distinctive, place-specific wines.” Chardonnays made a strong showing in PDX Monthly’s “50 Oregon Wines You Need To Drink Right Now” in October, with promises to “convert Chardonnay haters.” And last weekend’s Oregon Chardonnay Celebration at the Allison in Newberg demonstrated that our winemakers are just getting started.

A seminar on the many styles of Chardonnay, moderated by Patrick Comiskey of Wine & Spirits and featuring Josh Bergström, Jason Lett, Anna Matzinger, John Paul, Wynne Peterson-Nedry, and Thomas Savre, discussed the thousands of decisions that face winemakers, from barrel use to whole-cluster fermentation to clonal selection, in making extraordinary Chardonnay across the spectrum of styles these winemakers represent. Afterward, a walk-around tasting allowed guests to sample 2015 and 2016 Chardonnayssome not even released yetfrom 50 local wineries. From lush, juicy styles to the most delicate, acid-driven examples, Willamette Valley Chardonnay may be one of the world’s most versatile examples of this legendary grape. Browse wineries working with Chardonnay here

 

By Julia Burke

Julia Burke is a wine lover originally from Buffalo, New York, who moved to Oregon in August 2017 to work a harvest and decided to stay. She is the Willamette Valley Wineries Association’s marketing and content coordinator and a fan of Riesling, peanut butter, and the Chicago Cubs.

 


Cellar Season in McMinnville

#WVcellarseason – february 13, 2018

Both an AVA and one of the best wine country towns in America, McMinnville is one of the Willamette Valley’s true gems. February is the inaugural Taste McMinnville Month, a chance to explore the history, shopping, dining, and wine tasting experiences the town known affectionately as “Mac” has to offer… Read full article


Cellar Season in McMinnville

Cellar Season in McMinnville

Both an AVA and one of the best wine country towns in America, McMinnville is one of the Willamette Valley’s true gems. February is the inaugural Taste McMinnville Month, a chance to explore the history, shopping, dining, and wine tasting experiences the town known affectionately as “Mac” has to offer. With over 250 wineries within 20 miles, McMinnville is a perfect jumping-off point for any wine adventure, says Kitri McGuire of Visit McMinnvilleand the cellar season is the perfect chance. From seafood and wine pairings to rosé release parties, there is something special about the atmosphere at the wineries time of year.

“While the summer and fall are lovely times to visit, the cozy cellar season give visitors the chance to really interact with wine professionals,” says McGuire. “In the rest of the community as well, the cellar season is a time of coming together. It’s not uncommon to be sitting at a coffee shop next to a winemaker. This time of year is a friendly, less hectic time to visit that encourages exploration, conversation, and good company.”

All through February, McMinnville businesses will be offering bonuses such as prix fixe menus, $10 tasting fees, and special deals; just be sure to pick up your free Wine Walk passport at your first tasting stop. Collect 10 stamps on your passport and receive one of our beautiful WVWA Willamette Valley vineyard maps! You can even enter Visit McMinnville/Bounty of Yamhill County sweepstakes to win a wine country adventure including a three-night stay at the brand-new Atticus Hotel, round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines, and tickets to the Bounty of Yamhill County food and wine event. 

 


Recipe: Toasted and Spiced Coconut Quinoa Porridge (Raptor Ridge Winery)

#WVCELLARSEASON


We love how comforting yet bright this is, especially for the colder winter months.

Pairing: 2016 Raptor Ridge Auxerrois
Learn more about Raptor Ridge Winery

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Irene Bonn Laney's Toasted and Spiced Coconut Quinoa Porridge

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa rinsed drained
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar brown sugar, maple or honey (your choice of sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Sliced fruit of your choice berries banana, pear, citrus
  • Chopped nuts of your choice I like toasted almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews
  • Milk of your choice for serving coconut, almond, cashew, cow

Recipe Notes

Toast the quinoa in the bottom of your dry pan for 1-2 minutes, over low heat, tossing occasionally. Add coconut milk, water, sugar, vanilla, salt and spices to saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit for 5 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls and top with nuts, fruit and milk of choice.