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September 02, 2008


Jerry Murray


I think you have hit this issue directly on the head. Oregon's industry is growing fast but most of this growth is on the small winery side. Oregon is one of the few places that you can afford to get a winery started and still have access to a sizeable market (Portland ). I also think the nature of the vintages may have also contributed to 'state' of the wines you tasted ( pun very much intended ). 2005, cool and wet was very different from several of the previous vintages. In order for someone to have dealt with those conditions they would have had to been making wine 1997 (though '97 was likely a more difficult year), unless they had international experience ( Martinborough NZ in 2004 was where I 'learned' how to deal with 2005). Most producers were not around in '97 or have international experience. 2006 should of turned out much better, we all should of learned from 2003. As you point out however, many didn't. The techniques used to deal with years like '03 and '06 have been shunned in the past, considered too California I guess. It will be interesting to see how future hot years will be dealt with.
The sadest part is that you actually had to ask "if the winemaker had tasted them ...". Unfortunately it is sometimes hard, as a winemaker, to be honest with yourself. It is also sometimes hard to get honest feedback from your peers, unless you aggressively seek it out. The solution? Hire consultants or invite more experienced winemakers to taste through your cellar and demand honesty. The only way to make better wine is to spend less time telling yourself how great your wines are and more time asking yourself how they could be better.

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