Fermented Grape

how wine is produced

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Demystifying the world of wine

Antica Terra Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2007

Drunk August 2013 @ Goodman London 

Antica Terra, Amity Hills,  Oregon

The winery

The inspired moment, the one that changed everything, occurred in the midst of a nervous breakdown, after a bout with malaria, on an island off the coast of Kenya. In this moment, facing her traveling companion's request to “put down her beer and get serious,” doubting her ability to return to Chicago and begin her career in conflict resolution, Maggie Harrison decided to become a winemaker.

Maggie Harrison

This simple decision, incredible luck, and her own tenacity sent her to Ventura County where she landed, without any experience, the holy grail of winemaking apprenticeships. Maggie worked for nine wonderful and life changing vintages under the tutelage of Elaine and Manfred Krankl at the iconic winery Sine Qua Non. In 2004, at Manfred’s urging, she started her own Syrah project called Lillian. At this point she could see the rest of her life unfolding clearly before her. She and her husband Michael would settle down in Santa Barbara and raise a family. 

She would tend to the barrels at Sine Qua Non and make tiny amounts of her own exquisite Syrah on the side. But her well-laid plans were not to be.

This all changed in 2005, when Scott Adelson, John Mavredakis and Michael Kramer, three friends on a search for land, visited Antica Terra. Over the years, they had collaborated on countless projects but had always dreamed of starting a vineyard together. This was not the first time they had visited a piece of land with this dream in mind, but something was different this time. It’s hard to say if it was the subtle breeze from the ocean, the majestic stands of oak, or the fossilized oysters hiding among the boulders, but they knew immediately that this was the property they had been looking for.

Scott Adelson, John Mavredakis and Michael Kramer, Maggie Harrison

When Scott, John and Michael asked her to become the winemaker at Antica Terra, she emphatically refused. But the three friends were clever. They asked Maggie if she would simply take a look at the vineyard and offer her opinion about the qualities of the site. She reluctantly agreed. Twenty-six seconds after arriving among the oaks, fossils, and stunted vines, she found herself hunched beneath one of the trees, phone in hand, explaining to her husband that they would be moving to Oregon.

Vineyard

The vineyard is an 11 acre vineyard located on a rocky hillside in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

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The geology of the site is extremely unusual. In most of the region, vineyards are planted in the relatively deep, geologically young soils left behind by either the Missoula floods or the volcanic events that formed the Cascade Range. Here there is a mixture of sandstone sown with fossilized oyster shells. The vines are spindly and frail with tiny clusters of thick-skinned berries are less than half the usual size and fit easily in the palm of the hand. The smallest changes in the environment can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall.

The wine

A delicious Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley, Oregon,with plenty strawberry and raspberry fruit notes. An excellent balance of acid and earthiness. Most enjoyable and distinct. I am becoming more and more of a fan of the Oregon Pinot Noir given their high quality and distinct terroir.