Haakon Day!

So what exactly is Haakon Day????  It's the day we celebrate the Crown Prince of Norway's birthday.  It's also the day we celebrate our Scandinavian heritage.  So if you like to taste wine on a beautiful July afternoon in Oregon, sample some Norwegian-inspired bites, play yard games... this is the event for you.  Whether your name is Sven or Ingrid... or you just want to be Norwegian for day, come celebrate with us! 


Rosé season is almost here!

Pink wine is the fastest growing segment of the wine market.  And it's about time!

So this year, we're bringing our A-game:  two different Rosés for you to enjoy:  Rosé of Pinot Noir... richer and fuller bodied; and Rosé of Gamay... brighter, snappier, dry.

We have a new label too, featuring an image from the amazing eclipse we experienced here in Oregon last summer.

So plan to visit us on the weekend of April 14 as we debut both of these beauties.  There also might be a few other new wines coming in April... so stay tuned!  


Shipping wine.... ugh.

Shipping wine is fraught.  And ridiculous.  And stupid.  And, unfortunately, we basically can't ship to most folks anymore.

Here's the deal:  as a relic of post-Prohibition law, alcohol is highly regulated by each, individual state.  If I don't have a special permit, I probably can't ship to your state.  And sadly, that permit costs an arm and a leg... every year!  It's unaffordable for small wineries.

And now, the two main wine shippers(UPS and FEDEX) have decided to tell small wineries that unless they can prove they have all the legal documents beforehand, they won't ship.  They're also enforcing a policy that prevents wineries from dropping off wine at shipping points... making us pay them extra to pick up a wine shipment.  And they charge extra for the courtesy of shipping wine.  And even more to get a required signature.

All this helps two groups:  giant wineries and giant distributors.  Why?  Because it helps them hold onto their marketshare.  Giant wineries can pay a staff to do all the paperwork.  Giant distributors don't want wineries to be able to ship wine directly to consumers at all.  The current system works well for them.  But not us.

So from now on, we can only ship within the state of Oregon and to Minnesota and Washington, DC.  

I'm hoping to get compliant for shipping to California soon... but that will require some paperwork.  We'll see.




Pruning... pruning... pruning...

I admit it... I hate working in the rain.  Hence, I'm running late finishing pruning of our vineyards.  It'll get done, I have no fear... but things are running behind.  Little buds are starting to swell, and they should already be tied to their wire.  Oh well.

The bigger news is all the events coming up this spring!  I think this might be the busiest spring in all of our 12 years as a winery in the Cascade Foothills.  So... get out your calendar, wine lovers... there is fun afoot:

Florence Fest   March 31, April 1     http://www.florencefestoregon.com/index.html

Pour Oregon    April 30                      http://pouroregon.com/

Gamay Oregon  May 1 & 2                  http://www.ilovegamay.com/

taste. learn. celebrate.  May 6            http://www.cascadefoothillswine.com

Each one of these events will be terrific.  I'm so excited to be doing an event down on the southern Oregon coast in Florence... and that Saturday night we'll be having a special wine pairing evening at Homegrown Public House.  Don't miss it!

Portlanders?  Pay attention.  For three days in a row... I'll be in PDX at two brand new events.  First... Pour Oregon.  The fabulous Carrie Wynkoop from Cellar 503 is hosting a great new event featuring smaller, out of the way wineries from across Oregon.  Second...  I Love Gamay, a celebration of the unsung, yet hip varietal taking Oregon by storm.  If you love light bodied, vibrant red wines... this is the event for you.

If you LOVE Oregon wine, come to taste. learn. celebrate.     1.  60+ wines to sample.   2.  15 smaller, family-owned wineries will be there.  3.  there will be an AMAZING display of grape-growing and wine-making tools, machines and techniques... this is really an expo of how grapes get to your glass.  4.  It's the signature launch event of Oregon Wine Month... and a great leap into the celebration that is all things Oregon Wine.  Amazing wine, fun food and music, learning opportunities and a chance to win one of 15 AWESOME raffle prizes.  And it's only 15 bucks.  Click the link above to get your tickets.

And before I let you go... I just wanted to share some happy news.  We recently found out that all three wines Hanson Vineyards entered at SavorNW, one of the bigger wine competitions in Oregon, won Silver Awards!  Yea!  Our 2013 Pinot Noir, 2015 Gewurztraminer and (soon to be released) 2015 Pinot Gris were all honored.  

The tasting room is open weekends, Noon to 5 pm.  Stop in.  Sample.  And lets talk about wine for awhile.  Cheers!



We've got a very busy spring planned (more on that coming soon), but wanted to share this info with you!  

We're so pleased to have been invited to participate in the first PourOregon.  Hope to see you there.

On April 30, Pour Oregon is a one-day wine festival in Portland, featuring over 40 amazing, small, artisanal wineries all in one place.  They're coming from all over the state, and they'll be sharing the full diversity of wine you can find in Oregon.  You're going to love it!

Early bird discounted tickets for Pour Oregon are available right now -- but prices go up on March 1, so buy now.

Learn more about the festival at PourOregon.com. Hope to see you there!


The cost of a bottle, Round 2

It's not a well kept secret that I'm a politics junkie.  I have a Master's Degree from George Washington University in political management.  The data and science of politics is my number one hobby.  So I'm a big fan of Nate Silver and his 538 website.  And that's how I came across this article

And that's the great thing about 538.  They cast their eye far and wide for interesting ways to look at data from a fresh perspective... to help make sense of the world... whether that's the next election or high-brow wine auctions.  It's a long read, but very interesting.

So we come back to the topic of the cost of wine:  how can reasonable people look at a dusty bottle of 70 year old fermented grape juice and come to the conclusion that it should cost thousands of dollars?

I think the author, Oliver Roeder, gets to the nub of the situation at the very end of the article:  the cost of the wine isn't necessarily related to it's value.  

Drink the wine that makes you happy.

A kindred spirit...

I love coming across articles written about folks that share my own thoughts and dreams.  If nothing else, it reassures me that I'm not {too} crazy.

This young woman, Megan Bell, is helping California embrace lesser known varieties of wine grapes... just like we're trying to do here at Hanson Vineyards in Oregon.  We're playing with different grapes, of course, as California's climate is quite a bit warmer than here in the Willamette Valley's cool side.  But the concept is the same:  there are hundreds and hundreds of grapes that make great wine... why do we always drink the same five or six??

Our most recent planting here on the estate is a small block of Golubok... a Russian/Ukrainian/Moldovan grape that is good in cooler climes and makes a rustic and hearty red wine.  I'm looking forward to seeing what it will do!

About those sulfites...

This weekend, at one of the events I poured at, a familiar topic came up three times with three different people.  And it's a topic that comes up regularly in the tasting room:  what's up with sulfites?

I know some folks have strong feelings about sulfites; usually strong feelings against them.  But most people are either unaware of them or simply don't know much about them.  Today I came across a very good article about sulfites in wine, why winemakers use it and (take note) the difference between small producers and mass produced wine.  It's worth a read:


At Hanson Vineyards, we make acid-driven wines that, by their nature, require very little sulfite. We also aren't striving for absolute consistency, so even in our red wines, we use just a bare minimum.  And in my experience, that is the attitude of most small production winemakers... a little bit is good (even necessary to prevent off flavors) but keeping it to a minimum is essential to making quality, interesting wine.


The cost of a bottle...

There are many question that I hear over and over in the tasting room.  "Do you crush the grapes like Lucy?"  Er.... no.   "What kinds of spices or flavorings do you use to make the wine taste like that?"  Just grapes!  Really!  

But one that is sometimes hard to answer is, "How do you come up with the price of a bottle of your wine?"  

It's hard to answer because so many factors go into that particular decision.  Some of it is baked into the cake:  as a small producer, I simply cannot compete with 2 Buck Chuck or other big, national brands on price.  Nor do I want to.  We make our wines by hand, in small quantities, from grapes that we've [personally!!] farmed and picked.  

I did, however, run across this article today, and it does help to de-mystify how wineries, large and small, come to these decisions.  It's worth a read.


Everyone has their own tongue...

I always find it amusing when two folks come into the tasting room together and seem to have COMPLETELY different experiences with our wines.  Of course, some of that can be chalked up to different taste -- some people like sweet wines, others dry; some revel in tannin and oak, others prefer fruit.  But just as often, these pairs of tasters can't even agree on the flavors that they are experiencing.  

Below is a terrific explanation of why that might be:


Winding net

Cold and rainy weather doesn't mean the end of vineyard work.  Starting around January 1st, we'll begin pruning last years growth; but first we have to wind up all the netting used to keep the birds at bay while the fruit was ripe.

Luckily, Dad is quite the engineer.  Instead of rolling the nets up by hand (like we used to do) he fabricated a net-winder that runs off the hydraulic system of our tractor.  Using mostly scrap metal... bits and pieces from here and there... he made one of the more arduous and time consuming jobs in the vineyard speed along at a marvelous rate.  

Now don't get me wrong... it still takes a great deal of time and effort (and walking up and down every row at least four times!); but it's a dream compared to the old days.  

What a Thanksgiving!

Whew!  Two-thirds over and already it's been one of our busiest Thanksgiving Wine Weekends... ever!  It's been so nice to talk to folks... many who haven't visited in a couple years... about our new releases; taste through three years of Pinot Noir; see how much we've expanded.

One thing I'm not sure about... most weekends in the tasting room we only open five or six different wines for tasting.  This holiday weekend we opened ALL TWELVE of our current wines!  Some people certainly enjoy picking through the list and choosing the wines they want to taste... but I'm getting the sense that lots of visitors, perhaps the ones that are a bit less familiar with wine, are a bit overwhelmed by all the choices.  So that's something to think about as we move into the winter season (and the tasting room will be open only by appointment).  And if YOU have any thoughts... feel free to share!