We are frequently asked when to drink our wines. This is very subjective- what is "ready" to us may not meet your definition of "ready." However, we have updated our chart that summarizes when we think our wines (Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from 2003 on) will be drinking optimally.
When I moved back to Oregon from California, I had a tough adjustment to the winters… I found them rainy, cloud covered, and insular. In wine, there is a frantic energy during the growing season, which slows to what I considered to be an anti-climactic letdown in the winter. In the past few years, I have given in to the introspective beauty of Cellar Season, which is the quiet time when vines are sleeping and wines are snug in their barrels slowly maturing through malolactic fermentation. Here are 3 magical things that happen this time of year:
1) Letting Go: Vines are dormant, so this is the time to prune, or cut away that which is no longer needed from last year and select and nurture those vines that we want to bear fruit this year and next year. Cultivating this process invites us to let go of that which no longer serves us and think with intention about what we want to bear fruit going forward. Following the rhythm of a vineyard’s season can bring us more closely in touch with our own spiritual rhythms. After my dad died, this became a crucial anchor to me- no matter how unmoored I felt, the seasons of the vineyard would continue to come and go.
2) Taste Slowly: During harvest, I may taste every ferementer daily. It’s fast and immediate decisions are required. During cellar season, there are no immediate decisions required- it is simply the time to thoughtfully taste each barrel. I like to do so slowly and in solitude.
3) Go Out Tasting: After a busy summer and fall season, tasting rooms slow down. This is the time of year our tasting room staff goes out to other tasting rooms in the community. It is quiet and we can expect warm hospitality and unhurried tastings with interesting conversation.
Read my comments on Cellar Seasons here.
We’ve put the last of our 2018 wines to barrel, which means it is time to exhale, pour a glass of wine, and reflect upon harvest. Here are 5 things we can expect from the vintage:
1) Crop loads were normal to generous- Yields were robust, though likely down 10-15% from 2017 in most vineyard sites. This means that there should be bountiful supply from the vintage.
2) Warm weather led to a relatively early harvest- The summer’s warm weather led to early ripening, but a welcome September cooling put the brakes on a bit. We brought all vineyards in between Sept 25-30, which is slightly earlier than “normal”, but not as early as recent warm vintages of 2014 and 2015.
3) Sugars were generous- The warm weather led to generous sugar development, which means that we can expect alcohol levels to be on the higher side (closer to 14% than 12%).
4) Acids were higher than normal- It’s all about balance, and high sugars were balanced by higher acid levels. This means that we can expect some well balanced wines out of the vintage.
5) Phenolic ripening was beautiful- More important than the quantitatively satisfying sugar and acid numbers are the qualitatively critical signs of phenolic ripening as seeds, skins, and stems can be an important predictor of tannin quantity and quality. This harvest delivered, which means that we can expect some supple and integrated tannins out of the vintage.
Overall, I am delighted with Harvest 2018. A huge thank you to our vineyard partners for taking care of the vines all growing season long, the vineyard crews for picking them on time, and the amazing winery crew for managing them tirelessly for the past month while the juice bloomed into wines.
Harvest is here! While we can’t generalize too much this early, here are 3 early observations:
1) September weather has blessed us. We had a hot summer, which could have meant high sugars that forced us to harvest before acids, flavors, or phenolics (predictors of tannin and structure) were ready. Then September put a brake on the heat. Temperatures suddenly cooled by 20 degrees, which slowed sugar ripening and allowed all else to catch up. That, combined with dry weather which minimized rot risk, absolutely blessed us.
2) Acids are fabulously lively and balanced. We have seen the best pH levels in our Yamhill-Carlton District vineyards, as an example, than we have in years.
3) Conditions at harvest are beautiful, keeping morning temperatures low enough for clusters to be harvested without getting warm and “mushy” and dry enough to minimize risk of “watering down” the fruit.
We are gearing up for harvest after a hot and dry summer in Oregon's Willamette Valley. A question we are asked frequently is, "How is the harvest looking so far?" Here are three possible predictions:
1) Growth Acceleration: Heat provides grapes what they need to develop. We measure this in Growing Degree Days (GDD). According to Oregon expert Gregory Jones of Linfield College, "Wine regions in Idaho, Washington and Oregon are now running 100-300 GDD units above normal, or two to three weeks ahead of average." We are 12% over the historic average for 1981-2010. As a result, we can expect a relatively early harvest, which we will predict will begin at our vineyards Sept 17-24.
2) Dry: Obviously, precipitation has been lower than normal on the west coast. In areas like the Willamette Valley where irrigation is uncommon, it means that we worry about the long-term water table impact, but short-term concerns are kept at bay since our generally mild climate and fertile soils usually keep things healthy even with a bit less water than normal.
3) Wine Profile: While we are above the 30 year average for GDD, we are still under recent warm vintages such as 2015. This means that wines could be robust in flavor development and alcohol, but still balanced in acidity. The recent cooling of weather encourages the probability of this.
Our primary task over the next three weeks will be to determine when harvest should begin, based on sugar levels, acidity, flavor development, and tannin predictors (skin, seed, and stem development).
It has been one year since Howard, my dad and winemaking partner, died unexpectedly. It seems an appropriate time to thank you for your support and share my hope for the future.
Family inspires us. It is how we began and why we continue. Howard and I started the winery with the goal of creating wines that bring together family, friends, and warm conversation over shared meals. We made wine together for fourteen years. Now, I have the honor of carrying Et Fille forward in a manner that is consistent with his vision, values, and palate.
My goal is to create wines that my dad would love and be proud of sharing. To ensure his legacy lives on, in the past year, we have moved the winery to a sparkling new facility, expanded our production team, and rebranded our communications and website. This was possible because we have a spectacular team, generous support from our winemaking colleagues and partners, and loyal customers.
During this year of grief, wine has been grounding. Winemaking follows the cycles of the seasons. No matter how we feel on any given day, grapes ripen. Harvests proceed. Wines ferment. I check our vines this spring with my daughter, Gabriella, and know that bud break will come again soon. We are always moving forward.
I ask you to raise a glass to Howard and in honor of family. May your family legacies and future generations inspire you.
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." - F. Scott Fitzgerald
We just tasted through the barrels and are winding down a quiet time at the winery, when the barrels from the 2017 vintage are maturing. What is happening now in the cellar?
1) Malolactic Fermentation- During harvest, primary fermentation converts sugar to alcohol. After that process is complete and all sugar has been converted to alcohol, we press the grapes off their skins and place the wine in barrels. This is when malolactic, or secondary, fermentation converts the acid from the malic to lactic acid. This is critical to the feel of the wine in the mouth, as malic acid has a tart and “sharp” profile similar to that which can be found in apples. Lactic acid has a softer profile.
2) Topping Off- It is important that wine does not have much "head space" at the top of the barrel so that exposure to air doesn't lead to oxidation or a prematurely tired profile. This is managed by topping the barrels off with wine on a regular basis so that it does not get too much air contact.
3) Blending Preparation- We taste through the barrels several times during the winter to monitor how each wine is developing. We start hypotheses of what lots (set of barrels from the same vineyard and likely with the same yeast type) could combine with others to add complexity to the profile.
As a vintage, this year’s harvest is shaping up to be generous and balanced. The season started out slowly with a cool spring, then turned into a hot and dry summer. We are now tracking Growing Degree Days (GDD), our measure of heat accumulation during grape growing season, at twenty percent higher than average. As a result, grape clusters were large, resilient, and crop loads were twenty percent heavier than planned. We had a welcome cooling in late September, which allowed flavor development to catch up with sugar levels. We harvested between 9/29-10/07 and then had ideal conditions for the next few weeks, which allowed for the most perfect temperature control during fermentation that I have seen in our fifteen year history. What this means for the wines thus far is that yields have been bountiful, wines have balanced alcohol and acidity levels, and possess power without overt extraction. We are just starting to press the first of our wines and will be sending them off to barrel within the next week.
Wine is created from the land on which our grapes grow. The soil and microclimate is of paramount importance to the quality of what we produce. Therefore, it is critical that we protect it. The goal of sustainability is to strike a balance between stewardship of the land and the operating practices that keep the business running. The basic principles of sustainable farming and wine making are to:
- Consider the farm and winery as a whole system and take responsibility for its long term viability
- Promote soil stability, health, and fertility
- Respect natural processes, reducing or eliminating use of synthetic inputs in the vineyard and the winery
- Conserve natural resources, including water and energy, in both vineyard and winery
- Encourage biodiversity and protect wildlife habitat
- Protect the health and well being of workers in the vineyard and the winery
Independent third-party certification promotes adherence to high standards, connection to worldwide networks of sustainability research, and measurable criteria to evaluate our progress. There are three major certification organizations for the Oregon wine industry:
LIVE certified Low Input Viticulture and Enology. (www.livecertified.org) LIVE is a certification program developed in 1997 by an independently incorporated organization of Oregon winegrowers. LIVE is certified internationally by the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC), which sets an international standard for sustainable farming practices. LIVE certification is a three-year process. A point system for ecological options requires growers to demonstrate continual improvement in diversification of the agro-ecosystem, and reductions in the use of fuels and chemical inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers. Regular third party inspections are required to maintain certification
USDA Certified Organic. Organic food/wine production is based on a system of farming that mimics natural ecosystems and maintains and replenishes the fertility of the soil. Organic foods and wines are produced without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic foods and wines are minimally processed to maintain the integrity of the food without artificial preservatives or irradiation. Organic foods are not genetically engineered. Organic certification requires on-site inspections, legally binding contracts, detailed record keeping and periodic testing of soil, water, and produce to ensure that growers and processors are meeting the standards of the USDA National Organic Program.
Salmon Safe (www.salmonsafe.org) is a corollary certification that is usually achieved in conjunction with one of the comprehensive certification programs. Salmon Safe certifies farming practices that restore and protect healthy streams and rivers, focusing especially on control of soil erosion and runoff, and on maintaining buffer zones in riparian areas to protect water quality.
At Et Fille Wines, we believe that sustainable farming is vital to the long-term health of the Oregon wine industry. Our vineyard partners believe in this also.
Deux Vert Vineyard: Sustainably farmed and member of LIVE. Its farming philosophy is to take the best practices from various farming approaches (organic, biodynamic, etc.), but not be restricted by any one of them. It is a dry farmed, non-tilled vineyard.
Kalita Vineyard: Certified member of LIVE
Fairsing Vineyard: Certified member of LIVE and Salmon Safe programs. No pesticides or persistent herbicides are utilized. The vineyard has a diverse ecosystem, including 80 acres dedicated to a Certified Family Forest. The site is a micro-watershed with numerous streams supplying the Chehalem Creek. Green reserves adjacent to vineyard blocks are maintained to enhance biodiversity.
Palmer Creek: Certified Sustainable Vineyard by LIVE and Salmon Safe programs.
Maresh Vineyard: Organically farmed on vines planted in 1982.
Le Pavillon: Biodynamic
What a difference a month makes... We had a wet and cool winter and spring, which made it look like it would be a slow start to harvest. However, the warm and dry weather over the past month has us back on track to a "typical" harvest likely at the end of September or early October. Fruit set looks robust and clusters look healthy. Our recent dry days and cool nights are fabulous July conditions.
By Ron Burke, Tasting Room Manager
Flowering - Depending on temperatures, 40–80 days after bud break the process of flowering begins. It is during this stage of flowering that the pollination and fertilization of the grapevine takes place with the resulting product being a grape berry, containing 1-4 seeds. Vitis vinifera grape vines are hermaphroditic, with both male stamens and female ovaries. During the process of fertilization, the pollen fertilizes the ovary which produces seeds as the flower begins the transformation into a grape berry, encapsulating the seed. Detrimental weather (cold, wind & rain) can severely affect the flowering process, causing many flowers not to be fertilized and produce a group. It is during this time when the buds that will become next years crops begin to form.
Fruit Set - The stage of fruit set follows flowering almost immediately, when the fertilized flower begins to develop a seed and grape berry to protect the seed. This stage is very critical for wine production since it determines the potential crop yield. Not every flower on the vine gets fertilized. Climate and the health of the vine play an important role with low humidity, high temperatures and water stress having the potential of severely reducing the amount flowers that get fertilized.
By Ron Burke, Tasting Room Manager
Overall the answer is yes and no. Since the majority of vineyards in the Willamette Valley are dry farmed, it’s always good to have a dependable supply of ground water for the vines to utilize during the growing season. During the winter months, the vines are dormant so they are not actually soaking up all that rain. But it is draining into the soil and going deep. That’s where the roots are, so it did not really have any adverse effect on the vines per se. But it will influence the overall conditions of the vineyards in that they will have plenty of water for the vines this growing season.
Friends of Et Fille,
I am writing to share sad news.
Howard Mozeico, Co-Owner and Winemaker of Et Fille Wines, died on April 13 at age 70 as the result of a tractor accident on his beloved property. While his death is sudden and unexpected, he died working on the land that he loved where he built his home, small vineyard, and garden. Howard is survived by his wife of 49 years, Mona, daughter Jessica, and recent granddaughter Gabriella.
Howard was a software engineer until chasing his winemaking passion and co-founding Et Fille Wines in 2003. Howard loved so many of our Friends of Et Fille, was grateful for the support that allowed him to pursue his love of wine and family, and would have liked to have said thank you before exiting.
Wherever you may be, I ask you to please raise a glass of Et Fille and honor your memory of him. I deeply appreciate the supportive messages I have received, but please know I am simply too shocked and sad to reply quite yet.
With A Broken But Grateful Heart,
Et Fille Wines is so happy to finally have a tasting room to welcome guests after thirteen years of being open by appointment only! We were very careful with the design of the space and loved our experience of partnering with New York based interior design firm Common Bond Design. Our partnership with Common Bond Design was a natural extension for us as it is owned by Sherry and Alex Kalita. Yes- as in Kalita Vineyard, from which we have proudly produced single vineyard Pinot Noir since 2004. Common Bond Design is run by vineyard co-owner Sherry and her daughter Alex. So... mother/daughter vineyard/design duo with impeccable style and taste. We had a chance to discuss our collaboration with Sherry and Alex. Here are the highlights:
One of the Common Bond Design goals seems to be about bringing personality into a space's design. How did you bring the Et Fille brand to life when designing the tasting room?
The name, the logo, the tasting notes…they all nod at the father-daughter effort behind the wine, particularly the dualities implicit in that relationship, though always in a light-hearted, playful way.
The yin and yang wall paint – an off-black and white – was the most “on the nose” interpretation of the great work that comes out of the pull between masculine and feminine, the gravitas of age and the expansiveness of youth. We interspersed playful pale pink to tie in the logo and keep it from feeling too literal.
A subtler move was to invert the branding on Et Fille’s website: instead of black and white photography on a colorful background, we displayed large-format color photography against a black and white background. Jessica and Howard wanted storytelling to be central. The photographs are so vivid – they visually signal that the featured people, process and terroir are the life of the wine. The map of the Willamette Valley on the back wall achieves that same impact through scale.
Honestly, Howard and Jessica made it easy for us to inject personality! Et Fille as a brand has a clearly defined, consistent and fun personality. And we had the added bonus of a pre-existing relationship through Kalita Vineyards.
What did you learn about designing a wine tasting room and how was it different from other projects that Common Bond Design has done before?
This was Common Bond Design’s first commercial project. We’re used to the process of function leading form in residential projects – but with Et Fille’s Tasting Room we had to apply a whole new industry-specific rulebook. Textiles had to stand up to commercial traffic and red wine spills, storage had to be designed to accommodate specific bottle and glass dimensions, the bathroom and bar had to be ADA compliant.
We learned from the local winemaking community. We asked Jessica and Howard how they anticipated their needs. We visited tasting rooms throughout the Willamette Valley to ask questions about their spaces (what worked? what didn’t? how would you improve it?), took measurements, and snapped photos. It was wonderful how openly neighboring tasting room directors shared feedback.
The Et Fille Tasting Room feels open and welcoming. What advice would you offer to create a welcoming environment?
Well, first off, Et Fille is open and welcoming. When a guest walks into the tasting room, a warm, knowledgeable Et Fille representative – often Howard or Jessica – greets them. It’s the people who create the experience.
The space design honors that. The bar is situated on the left, so that guests’ bodies are positioned towards a friendly face when they swing the right-hinged door open from the street. Furnishings are spare, so that people have space to congregrate and interact with the wall art, which tells the story of the people and terroir behind the wines. The bar is open on one side, so that an Et Fille rep can circulate between the standing tasting counter, seated tasting table and club member seating, answering questions or refilling glasses. Seating is organized into smaller, more intimate pods, with wall paint and furniture layout serving to reinforcing the visual illusion of a series of more comfortably proportioned “rooms” within an open plan.
Howard and Jessica were clear that the objective shouldn’t be to maximize occupancy, but to maximize personal interaction with each guest. The storytelling element behind the photographs and map allow guests to engage with the brand, even if the Et Fille representatives are momentarily tied up with others.
The Et Fille Tasting Room is designed to serve multiple purposes in a small space. How did you approach that?
We took the same approach as in residential design: multi-purpose furniture and storage, storage, storage.
The key distinction with commercial design is that I think people want less ambiguity from public spaces. Ambiguity leads to misuse leads to awkwardness.
It can make multi-use furniture trickier to incorporate, but it can also be an asset. For example, we originally lobbied for a bar open on both ends for traffic flow. Jessica and the contractor came up with the idea of incorporating the ADA-compliant bar on one end. In practice, it serves two purposes: it’s a tasting surface for wheelchair users and it clearly communicates to guests which side of the bar they are meant to stand on.
The “room” order subtly communicates a continuum of public to private. You enter into a waiting area – where you could comfortably poke your head in and ask a question; you progress to the casual standing tasting bar – available to anyone during open hours; then, the club seating area where members are encouraged to drop in and hang out; then, the more structured seated tasting area on an appointment basis; and finally, the private office and the bathroom.
What have you learned about working as a mother/daughter team? How is a family business different from other businesses?
Alex: I can tackle this one. It’s different in a million subtle ways; I’ll pick one. As a young adult, it’s tempting to define your identity in opposition to your parents. Running a business requires a very pragmatic type of introspection. I watch my mom regularly interact with clients and grapple with creative puzzles. The success of our business depends on my ability to recognize when her interpersonal communication style is more effective, when her instinct trumps mine, when her creative process is just more efficient. Instead of the common refrain, “please don’t let me become my mother,” there’s a career incentive – an imperative really – to say, “here’s how I need to become my mother, because she is just so good at X,Y and Z.”
Sherry: It provides a financial incentive to admire your parents?
Alex: Yikes, it does sound like that I’m saying that, doesn’t it?...I think it’s more about observing how your family member moves successfully through society as an individual and seeking that same success? It’s cool to see your parent operate outside the family dynamic! And as for the parent-child business, I think that’s particularly unique – and at times, uniquely challenging – because you throw a generational gap into the mix.
Why should you keep rosé on hand as a summer sipper?
1) Lighter bodied wines seem appropriately paired with warmer weather.... sometimes a heavy red just feels a bit too robust for the heat.
2) Rosé can be a terrific pairing for summer grilling... grilled fish and vegetables, insalata Caprese, summer salads...
3) When entertaining, it can be a patio pleaser.
4) It can be found at accessible price points.
5) Let's face it... it does look Pretty in Pink.
We are frequently asked when to drink our wines. This is very subjective- what is "ready" to us may not meet your definition of "ready." However, we have developed a chart to summarize when we think our wines (Oregon Pinot Noir from 2003 on) will be drinking optimally.
It has been a mild, warm, and dry winter and spring in Oregon's Willamette Valley. A question we are frequently asked is, "What does that mean for the grapes?" Here are five possible implications for Harvest 2015 in the Willamette Valley:
1) Growth Acceleration: Heat provides grapes what they need to develop. We measure this in Growing Degree Days. According to Oregon expert Gregory Jones of Southern Oregon University, "To date in 2015, growing degree-days are higher than normal over all of California, Oregon, and Washington with April accumulations running between the last two warm years (2013 and 2014)." If this were sustained, we would expect an early harvest, though May is too early to make that call.
2) Dry: Obviously, precipitation has been lower than normal all winter and spring on the west coast. In areas like the Willamette Valley where irrigation is uncommon, it means that we worry a bit, but not too much since our generally mild climate and fertile soils usually keep things healthy even with a bit less water than normal.
3) Predictions for Summer: We expect more of the same warmer and drier weather than normal. National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s seasonal outlook (May-Jun-Jul) continues the strong likelihood for a warm late spring and early summer along the west coast. Additionally, the "blob" reported in the media, which refers to a condition of warm sea surface temperatures in the North Pacific, is creating a persistent ridge over the west coast with dry conditions expected to continue.
4) Possible El Nino: There are some indications that there could be a mild event in the late fall or winter that could bring rainfall into California and possibly Oregon. Bottom line: we need to be prepared for possible rain events in the fall.
5) Ship Wine Now: We plan to ship most wines as soon as possible as a warm west coast summer could mean that we have a very narrow window for shipping.
It’s harvest time in Oregon and a question we get asked frequently is, “How do winemakers know when to pick?” For us, it is a composite decision based on five main factors:
1) Visual Inspection: Are most of the grape clusters in the vineyard dark purple or do green berries remain? What is the size of the grape clusters? Are the stems turning brown, indicating structural development? Are the skins intact, or has weather made them “mushy”? Is there any sign of mold? Are the leaves shutting down into senescence, suggesting that further development will be halted soon? Does the vineyard look vulnerable to predators (e.g., birds, deer)?
2) Sugar: The Brix, or sugar level, will indicate alcohol level in the wine. For our Oregon Pinot Noir, we generally want to harvest between 21-24 Brix to keep ultimate alcohol levels between 12-14%.
3) Acidity: We always want to have a balance between sugar and acidity, so pH is our acidity indicator. Ideally, we would harvest around 3.2-3.4 pH so that the end pH is around 3.5-3.6 and should be balanced with expected alcohol.
4) Flavor Development: Are the juice flavors immature (guava, banana, green apple) or have they matured (cherry, raspberry, blackberry, spice)? Seeds will contribute to tannin development, so do the seeds taste mature (brown and crunchy) or rough (green and bitter)?
5) Forecast: What does the weather forecast hold and will it allow further development? Do rains threaten the chance of developing mold?
Thus far, 2014 has been an extremely warm spring and summer in Oregon's Wine Country. People ask us frequently what this means for Harvest 2014. In short:
- Oregon Wine Country has been about 5 degrees warmer than normal and growing season markers are running near record levels due to all this sunshine. We measure this in Growing Degree Days (GDD), which is a measurement of heat accumulation that predicts when harvest will occur and provides a comparison to prior vintages. Click here to read a simple definition of GDD.
- The GDD Data: We can compare this point in the 2014 vintage to other vintages, thanks to Gregory V. Jones, Professor of Geography and Environmental Science, Southern Oregon University. How many GDDs would we expect to have on this date (i.e., how many heat units have we had as of the beginning of August and how does this compare to other vintages)? As of 8/31 in any given year, the average GDD in the Willamette Valley is 1703, according to the historical average that Professor Jones has tracked from 1981-2010. However, as of 8/31, the GDD in 2014 was 2082, representing a 22% increase over average! We are even 8% higher than a recent warm vintage (2013). Click here to see this GDD data courtesy of Professor Jones.
- Predictions for the Wine: We would expect wine from this vintage to be fruit forward, rich, and higher in alcohol, since we are getting the heat to develop the sugars. Think 2006 and 2009 in Oregon. Since sugar and acid development are basically inverse correlations, warm vintages leave us hoping that acids will be decently balanced.
- Predictions for Harvest: We are expecting an early harvest, likely in mid September. As a note, the earliest we have ever started harvest was in 2013 on September 20th. The latest we have ever started harvest was in 2011 on October 24th.
- That said, it is all about September. That is when we experience the greatest variability and the weather in that month will dictate when we ultimately harvest. At this point, the Climate Prediction Center models suggest a warmer than average September-October, but there is no clear signal from the data on precipitation.
For now, things look good and we are hoping for cool nights and a bit of mild rain. As is always the case when we think about the weather, our fingers are crossed.
We are frequently asked when to drink our wines. This is very subjective- what is "ready" to us may not meet your definition of "ready." However, we have developed a chart to summarize when we think our wines (Oregon Pinot Noir from 2003 on) will be drinking optimally.