Willamette Valley Vineyards has been producing high-quality, sustainably grown Pinot Noir and other cool-climate varieties for more than 27 years – earning the distinction as “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Our mission is to create elegant, classic Oregon wines from the Willamette Valley Appellation while serving as stewards of the land. Founder Jim Bernau believes we are rewarded with wines that taste better when made from naturally grown wine grapes. Tending the vines by hand and using minimalist winemaking techniques in small-batch fermentations, we strive to capture the unique sense of place that comes from our soils. We were the first to use natural cork in our bottles certified by the Rainforest Alliance to Forest Stewardship Council standards and offer 10 cents for any wine bottle returned to our tasting room for recycling. To reduce our carbon footprint, all company tractors and delivery vehicles run on biofuel – and we offer up to 50 gallons a month free to our employees for commuting to work. Willamette Valley Vineyards wines have been served at the White House, the James Beard House and are available at some the finest restaurants and wine shops throughout the world.
PORTLAND, Ore.— El Gaucho is raising a glass to an exciting development that is poised to revolutionize the wine industry.
Willamette Valley Vineyards has launched “Bio-Cask,” and El Gaucho Portland is the first restaurant anywhere to feature the winery’s new wine-casking technology. A stainless steel cask that contains the equivalent of 26 (750 ml.) bottles, the wine-preserving Bio-Cask is designed to connect with a restaurant’s tap system to provide high-quality wines by the glass to the customer at an approachable price. The technology keeps each successive glass as fresh as the first.
Bio-Cask benefits the guest, the restaurant, the winery and the planet:
• Increases quality and consistency of the wine
• Is a simple system that utilizes existing tap technology and widely
• Is waste-free
• Is ecologically friendly
Says Chad Mackay, president and CEO of Mackay Restaurants, “This is an exciting development, because it drives down the cost of wine for everybody involved by eliminated the extra materials. We’re introducing Willamette Valley Vineyards Bio-Cask in El Gaucho Portland, but we have plans to expand the technology into our other locations.”
Oregon is a famously “green” state, and Willamette Valley Vineyards is a participant in the Oregon winery Carbon Neutral Challenge. President Jim Bernau came up with the concept of the Bio-Cask during the winery’s early efforts to achieve carbon neutrality, in 2009.
Over its estimated 10-year lifespan, each slim, sleek Bio-Cask will replace 327 cases of traditionally packaged wine, thereby eliminating the need for: 3,924 glass bottles, corks and metal cork caps; 7,848 labels and adhesive; cardboard boxes; wooden pallets; and the plastic wrap to secure packed boxes for transport. Not only does the Bio-Cask virtually eliminate materials that would otherwise end up in landfills or require recycling, but the reduced per-unit weight translates to a markedly smaller carbon transportation footprint, the single most significant impact on the environment for the wine industry as a whole.
The selections currently being served at El Gaucho Portland on Tap include:
Willamette Valley Vineyards, Bio Cask Pinot Noir 2008 (Willamette Valley), $14 per glass
Troon Vineyard, Trifecta Red 2008 (Oregon), $10 per glass
“These highly food-friendly wines are on the menu right now and are pouring beautifully. Our guests know we’d only offer them the best, and they’ve embraced both the wines and the concept. Perceptions are changing rapidly about wine packaged in non-traditional ways. What’s so terrific about Bio Cask is that it offers significant ecological benefits without sacrificing a fraction of an ounce of quality,” says El Gaucho Portland Wine Director Leann Loveland, “and who can’t drink to that?”
About El Gaucho
Open since 2000, El Gaucho® is the Northwest’s steakhouse legacy focused on elegant, old-school, tableside service for people celebrating their lives. The menu highlights 28-Day Dry-Aged Certified Angus Beef® Prime steaks, cutting edge fresh seafood selections from sustainable sources, and extensive wine and malt scotch lists. El Gaucho’s swanky bar was recently featured in Continental Airlines magazine and given the “Gold Standard” by Portland Monthly magazine. Located at 319 S.W. Broadway, El Gaucho is open Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m. Happy hour is available 5 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close Monday through Friday and all day Sunday. For more information, visit www.elgaucho.com or call (503) 227-8794.
About Willamette Valley Vineyards
We have been producing high-quality, sustainably grown Pinot Noir and other cool-climate varieties for more than 27 years – earning the distinction as “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Our mission is to create elegant, classic Oregon wines from the Willamette Valley Appellation while serving as stewards of the land. Founder Jim Bernau believes we are rewarded with wines that taste better when made from naturally grown wine grapes. Willamette Valley Vineyards wines have been served at the White House, the James Beard House and even been served on the NBC sitcom FRIENDS! For more information, call 1-800-344-9463.
As Oregonians we treasure our environment, our ancient and managed forests.
The cork forests of the Mediterranean are second to the Amazon Forest in importance to the world’s biosphere. These forests are in danger. The increased use of plastic stoppers and aluminum screw caps are reducing the use of natural cork- increasing the danger of global warming. Cork trees naturally remove carbon from the air and sequester it in their bark - am pump oxygen back into the atmosphere. If we choose wine sealed with natural cork, we help the environment. Conversely, aluminum ore mining and processing, using high levels of electricity, is resulting in substantial negative ecological effects. The same is true of petroleum-based plastic stopper manufacturing.
P.S. Plus, as wine ages in the bottle, high quality natural cork is the best for wine quality.
As one of Oregon’s premier wineries, Willamette Valley Vineyards maintains a commitment of the stewardship for the land we use. Our sustainable efforts include organic certification from Oregon Tilth, LIVE and Salmon Safe certification, using 100% biodiesel with all winery equipment (including 50 gallons per month of biodiesel to employees), and being the first winery in the world to receive certification from the Rainforest Alliance for using 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cork. In keeping with this environmental philosophy we have created a cork recycling program that not only recycles wine corks, we do so with zero increase to our carbon footprint.
A first for Oregon and a model for wineries around the world, this program is a two-fold. First to collect and recycle the corks and second to educate the public about the importance of sustaining the cork forests of Portugal, Spain and other cork producing countries. There are 15 billion corks produced every year for the wine industry, 99% of them end up in landfills. This is a trend we must reverse.
In partnership with Whole Foods, The Rainforest Alliance, Bacchus Fine Wines and Western Pulp, we will collect and recycle wine corks in the following manner:
Recycling boxes are placed in Whole Foods Markets in Portland and Bend. When our Oregon distributor (Bacchus) delivers wine, they pick up the cork and return it to our warehouse. The cork is then transported to Western Pulp in Corvallis, OR when we deliver wine to our Corvallis warehouse. Western Pulp produces a packaging shipper for the wine industry to protect wine bottles for shipping to direct sales customers. These shippers are now being made with 100% recycled newspaper.
Through a joint partnership with Willamette Valley Vineyards, Western Pulp has developed a system for adding ground cork to the manufacturing of the shipper (10%). The cork will be given to Western Pulp at no cost. Though the testing and evaluation process is ongoing, there is a high degree of confidence that these shippers will be viable product for Western Pulp and the wine industry. This program is another example of Western Pulp’s commitment to sustainability and the ecological health of our planet.
The second part of the program is to educate the public concerning the sustainability of the Mediterranean cork forests. The cork recycling box will have a display card with an information sheet (on a tear-away pad that can be taken by the customer) debunking common misconceptions concerning cork harvesting, the sustainability of the cork forests and the global environmental and economic impact of the cork forests.
- Cork is a natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable material that is obtained through an environmentally friendly harvesting process.
- Trees are not cut down to harvest cork, rather, the bark is stripped by hand every 9-12 years. Cork oak trees can live up to 300 years!
- Approximately 6.6 million acres extending across Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France, the cork oak forests support one of the world’s highest levels of forest biodiversity, second only to the Amazon Rainforest.
- Opting for screw caps and plastic stoppers directly causes the loss of sustainable livelihoods as the cork forests are a vital source of income for thousands of families.
- Willamette Valley Vineyards is the first winery in the world to receive Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification through the Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood.
Corks collected will continue to be used in the wine industry as they are utilized to produce molded fiber wine shippers. With our partners and your help, we can have a significant impact in saving the cork forests and reuse this remarkable natural resource.
The bottling line is buzzing today as we bottle our 2008 Dijon Clone Chardonnay. Forrest Klaffke, our winemaker, says this wine has the best nose of any wine he has smelled in a long time! Since the advent of the Dijon clones, Oregon Chardonnays have become more complex and food friendly, ours is no exception.
Founder/CEO, Jim Bernau, was at the forefront bringing Dijon Clones into Oregon.
In a February 2008 article by Larry Walker of Wines & Vines writes:
Dijon is a term that refers to a group of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir clones imported into the US from the Burgundy region of France.
Oregon growers were quick off the mark in getting the Dijon clones. Jim Bernau, the founder and president of Willamette Valley Vineyards, recalls that he went to Burgundy in 1988, along with David Adelsheim and other Oregon growers, to discuss bringing the clones to Oregon. He was among the first to plant the new clones after their release from quarantine.
The 1988 trip to Burgundy was preceded by a visit by Adelsheim in 1974. Oregon winegrowers had already set their sights on a Burgundian model for the state, and Adelsheim wanted to check out winemaking practices.
It was clear to Adelsheim and others that the Chardonnay clonal selections from California were not working right in the cooler Oregon climate. Adelsheim encouraged Oregon State University (OSU) to import the clones, and the first ones arrived in 1977. After going through a two-year quarantine process, it became clear that they were not the clones he had seen in Burgundy.
Apparently, the clones he had seen were developed in the 1960s by Raymond Bernard, a scientist in the Dijon office of the French Ministry of Agriculture, although the exact origin of the Dijon clones remains cloudy. At any rate, the first “Dijon” clones imported to Oregon were 75, 76, 96 and 98. Following the 1988 trip, clones 77, 95 and 277 were brought into Oregon.
“Lab technicians at OSU nicknamed them the “Dijon clones” after the return address on the shipping container,” Bernau told Wines & Vines.
He added that the Dijon clones ripen earlier and are more complex and produce more food-friendly wine. “They tend to have more mineral with more typical developed flavors of citrus, stone fruits, white peach, melon and other tropical notes. They have superior structure, complexity and natural acidity.
Before the widespread adoption of the Dijon clones, Oregon Chardonnay took some negative whacks as being too acidic and hard, and the new clones came along in time to help put Chardonnay on the right track there.
In 1995 there were 1,512 acres of Chardonnay planted in Oregon. In 2005, that number had fallen to 842 acres, according to the Oregon Agricultural Statistics Service. Most expect that when the new acreage report is issued later this year, Chardonnay plantings will be up, largely due to a perceived boost in wine quality due to the Dijon clones.
Luisa Ponzi, the winemaker at Ponzi Vineyards in the Willamette Valley, has worked with Dijon clones 95, 96, 75 and 76 as well as Davis clone 108, along with the Wente clone, which was the standard Chardonnay clone in Oregon before the introduction of the Dijon clones. She credits the Dijon clones with completely changing the flavor profile of Oregon Chardonnay.
She doesn’t think the Dijon clones are, in themselves, superior to older clones. “But in Oregon, they are certainly better suited to our climate. Physiologically, they are completely different from the older clones we were using--smaller clusters, less vigorous canopy, minimal shoulders. When matched with Oregon’s cool climate, this gives the advantage of early and more consistent ripening. Flavor development is complete and the fruit achieves maturity before the effects of any compromising weather set in. This is a very different scenario than what we were dealing with in the older clonal selections,” she told Wines & Vines.
She said the new Chardonnays are not comparable to the Chardonnay being produced in Oregon before the mid-’90s. “We now have intense fruit character, richness and depth while still retaining a freshness of acidity, even with 100% malolactic fermentation.”
We agree and are excited for the release of our 2008 Dijon Clone Chardonnay. Just smelling it this morning wasn’t enough, I can’t wait to taste it! The 2006 Dijon Clone Chardonnay is currently available to taste in our Tasting Room (it won’t disappoint either).
Larry Walker “Dijon Chardonnay choices: Oregon and California growers discuss their Chardonnay clones”. Wines & Vines. Feb 2008. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3488/is_2_89/ai_n24379255/
It’s our 19th Annual Oregon Grape Stomping competition, Sept. 19th & 20th, 11-6 pm. Have you got what it takes to make it to the World Competition? Make a reservation for a stomping time for your team of two: one stomper and one swabber. Battle it out together: the team who produces the most juice qualifies for the World Grape Stomping Championship in Santa, Rosa, CA! The team with the most creative costume will receive a Private Tour and Tasting for 10 people, along with a wine essentials package. Come celebrate with the WVV family as we begin the 2009 harvest and enjoy fine wines from our Tasting Room.
$5 adult admission includes a free Riedel wine glass and tasting. Admission is complimentary for Oregon Wine Guild members. Additional $10 per team to stomp. Please call to make your reservation 1-800-344-9463.
Willamette Valley Vineyards
8800 Enchanted Way SE
Turner, OR 97392
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