Weinbau Paetra (Vine-bau Pay-truh):
Weinbau is German for the craft of growing and producing wine. Paetra is from the Latin for "Rock".
The basis for all great wine is the soil from which it comes. Our wines are crafted by intensive hand-labor in the vineyard and a minimalist approach to cellar-work. "As little as possible, as much as necessary" is a fitting motto. We produce Riesling using traditional European techniques on American Soil.
Thank you David Schildknecht for including us in his excellent Wine & Spirits Magazine Piece on Oregon Riesling!
Weinbau Paetra Summer Release 2016
2016 has brought about some new developments for us. I retired from my day-job to focus full-time on Paetra which is both exciting and nerve-racking. Added stress aside, it has given me the opportunity to concentrate all of my efforts on growing vineyard holdings and implementing farming practices that will help to improve wine-quality and also provide substantial ecological benefits to the vines, the soil, and the microflora and fauna within the vineyards.
To aid our commitment to forgo herbicide-spraying, we are improving the microbial life in the soil by brewing and spraying actively-aerated compost teas, planting what I believe to be the most complete and complex cover-crop mixtures in the United States, and providing habitat for bees and other beneficial insects both with insect houses and complimentary in-row plant species.
The reasons for these programs are simple: by providing a healthier, more natural habitat for the soil-food-web to flourish, we can ensure better nutrient uptake for the vines, increase organic matter in the soil, help to achieve a competitive balance regarding water in times of abundance and drought, and greatly increase the diversity of plants and animals in the vineyard which leads to a battle-royale among insects/arachnids where no single species can flourish without being held in check by a natural predator. It was a wise man who once told me that the worst thing we can do as vintners is propagate a monoculture (grass) within a monoculture (vines). The end benefit of all of this to me and to you is better fermentation kinetics resulting in better wine without a bunch of additions or subtractions in the cellar.
We still have a long way to go to achieve all of our goals, but these are big steps in getting there and I am confident that these improvements to the vineyard are evident in the quality of your glass of wine.
I am also happy to say that 2016 will bring the first vintage of Paetra Pinot Noir (both red and a dry rosé), so please look forward to those in 2017.
While the spring release wines (Paetra Riesling K’ and Paetra Riesling ‘S’) both contained more or less some residual sugar, the wines that follow are all dry as I prefer extended barrel aging and lees-contact with dry wines.
A note on style: I have spent my entire career drinking thousands of different Rieslings from around the world and while I love many different styles, the ones that eventually emerged as my favorites were those from the Pfalz, Austria and Alsace (Bürklin-Wolf, Koehler-Ruprecht, Christmann, Rebholz, Müller-Catoir, Odinstal of course, Nikolaihof, Gobelsburg, FX Pichler, Marcel Deiss, Weinbach, Barmes-Buecher…) and they remain the inspiration to what I hope to achieve stylistically regarding texture and frame for the dry wines –meaning elegant, complex, age worthy and more powerful than dainty and more acoustic than digital. Texture is very important to me. I think 2015 was perfect in this respect –as I wrote in the fall, ’15 had about the same ripeness as 2014, but with significantly more acidity –structured and sleek all at once. The reason for so many different Rieslings this year is that all of them have unique and distinct personalities based upon where they were grown and how they were vinified and I wish to express the terroir of each of the sites that I farm as well as to preserve the character of the vintage.
I am often asked what one should eat with our wines. Simply put, I refuse to make wine that won’t pair well with pork and seafood, but the truth is that Riesling pairs magically with much more than you think.
2015 Paetra Riesling Eola-Amity Hills (Dry)
This dry Riesling was made from a second-harvest pass of only the ripest healthiest grapes. It fermented at very cool temperatures in neutral oak barrels without cultured yeast or chemical additions over a period of four months. There is a lot of exotic clone N90 spiced-peach flavor and yellow plum aromas, a sponti-carob element (Edelreduktivität!) and substantial acidity. There are certain wines that are just a joy to taste throughout fermentation –from juice to finished wine and this was one of those. It is a very different wine from the 2014 version: It is more than twice as dry and is more compact. I feel like this 2015 wine derives more of its personality from its fruit and floral aspects, where the 2014 was more savoury and herbal. The explanation for this lies partially in that this year’s wine is the product of just one harvest pass, whereas last year’s wine had three passes at very different ripeness levels. If you prefer more purity and harmony in your Riesling, this will deliver. It is my favorite wine that I’ve yet made.
142 cases produced
2015 Paetra Riesling Yamhill-Carlton (Dry)
This is a thoroughly wild and delicious Riesling. The vineyard is in a cooler microclimate that is adjacent to the forest. It is a very secluded and peaceful site to work in and some of the cooler elements carry-over into the wine. This is a wild-yeast fermentation in neutral oak barrels without chemical additions. Underneath the apple, asian pear fruit and fresh basil and autumnal aromas, there is definite energy and electricity. Although it was one of the latest harvests, it has the most acidity of any wine this year. My feeling is that this will probably be the most long-lived of the 2015 vintage.
92 cases produced
2015 Paetra Riesling ‘O’ Eola-Amity Hills (Dry)
The biggest surprise last year was how quickly the 2014 ‘O’ sold out. I initially made it just for fun as a continuation of a project that we started in Germany, but I didn’t realize the reception that it would have. It is still to my knowledge the first and only full-skin-contact fermented Riesling in the western hemisphere. The tradition of fermenting white wine as a red originally comes from the ancient world and is mostly associated with Georgia (as in Tbilisi not Atlanta). This year’s Orange Riesling has even more tannin and aroma than last year and is about as dry as wine can be at 0.3 g/l residual sugar. Orange-zest and tangerine in a bottle. Which food you pair it with is up to your wildest imagination. I’ll take no responsibility. Many years ago I’m told that people used to make duck with orange sauce (I have no idea why that started), but hey how about it?
60 cases produced
2015 Paetra Pinot Blanc Coast Range
This is the first release of what I hope are many vintages of Paetra Pinot Blanc. I love this grape for its affinity to seafood. I can hardly imagine scallops or Dungeness crab without a bottle of pinot Blanc handy. This vineyard lies high in the coast-range of western Oregon where it is late to ripen, but in 2015 we harvested this in two passes several weeks apart and were able to capture a wine that shows some density but is also low in alcohol –just barely reaching 12%. It has characteristic pear flavors, some sinewy texture and sea-spray leesiness. In Germany (as Weißburgunder) it is beloved because it shows a lot of the same taut, mineral characteristics of Riesling but without so much acidity. Understated if you like big, oaky Chardonnay, or richer Pinot Gris, but just perfect to me. Shellfish and white-fleshed salt and freshwater fish are what I’m going to drink it with and all sorts of sushi, but white asparagus seems good too.
102 cases produced