Scott’s Blog

What a year – musically and otherwise!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Well, it has been one amazing year, to say the least. One of our most abundant harvests ever from a great growing season that gave us superb quality, my first grandchild is about to be born, my 2nd oldest daughter just got engaged, my son moved to Hawaii, Martha’s mom passed away, and our daughter Pirrie just started high school this fall. Oh, and we sold the winery. Other than that, not much going on :-)

As we draw close to the end of the year, I always like to look back over the year in music – my other obsession and former occupation. (OK, chocolate may be another one, as well.)

The Grammy nominations just came out this week, and I’m sad to say it’s generally a pretty sorry lot. If we can’t do any better than Taylor Swift’s horribly plastic, cheesy and disposable “Shake it Off” for a Song of the Year and Record of the Year candidate, we’ve truly hit a new low. When a novelty hit like Meghan Trainor’s “All about the Bass” is also nominated in those categories, we’ve clearly reached the nadir. Yeesh.

There was, thankfully, music that excited me this year. I have become a rabid, passionate fan of Swedish pop-folk-americana duo First Aid Kit (who Pirrie turned me on to two years ago – the kid has great ears!) Think Joni Mitchell meets Simon & Garfunkel meets Emmylou Harris – brilliant stuff. See them live when they come to your town – they are the real deal.

2014 was the year of the Swedes, it seems. I also got into emerging artists Likke Li and Tove Lo, who are both from my ancestral land. (My mom was 100% Swede.)

Closer to home, I’ve been really loving the new Foo Fighters album and accompanying HBO series – Sonic Highways. Dave Grohl is making great music, and has emerged as a talented director as well with vision and something to say. (See his excellent documentary Sound City if you haven’t already – great stuff.)

Best live show of the year – still my guys the Eagles. After 40 years they just may be better than ever. Only Dr. Dré (who sold Beats to Apple for 3 Billion Dollars!) and Beyoncé made more money in the music biz last year. Don & Glen & Joe are still flyin’ high.

Pirrie & Henley backstage in Portland

I’ve put a bunch of tracks from the new Pentatonix and Idina Menzel Christmas albums on our Xmas Master Mix, which is streaming around the house as I write, looking forward to a joyous celebration with family and friends over the coming couple of weeks. Oh yeah, and lots of great Pinot, Burgundy & Grower Champagne! Cheers, and a very Merry Christmas and Happy 2015 to you!!!

Post-Harvest Thankfulness…

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Ever since the end of harvest in September, I’ve been on the road, spreading the gospel of Scott Paul and Wildstock to our customers and distributors around the country. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Milwaukee, Miami, Boca Raton, Naples, New Orleans and Baton Rouge – kind of reminds me of my days being on the road with rock bands back in the 90s. (No living on a bus these days though – sometimes winemakers live better than rock stars!)

It was a great trip – lots of great times, great meals, and great people along the way. I love seeing our customers all across the country. And I love being back in Oregon most of all. Now that I’m back home through the end of the year I’ll be out and about doing a lot of appearances and pouring samples at a number of top retail accounts around the state – be on the lookout…

Now that our 2014s are all settled down in barrel, Kelley and I will be tasting through the cellar over the next week or two to get a handle on where each of the lots are at this point. It’s always interesting to see the very significant changes that arrive after the malo-lactic fermentation – which should be finished by February or March at the latest. This was not a high-malic year, but nonetheless when all of that malic acid converts to lactic acid, the overall character of the wines will finally be revealed, and we’ll have a much better handle on the true character and personality of the vintage. What we know for sure is that the quality is outstanding. How that quality ultimately expresses itself remains to be seen.

In Burgundy, all of our friends and producers seem very happy with the quality in 2014, but again they had a woefully small harvest – with 80-100% losses in much of the Côte de Beaune. In Champagne everyone seems very optimistic and quite pleased – lots of good stuff to look forward to there, for sure.

I’m excited to be back home and settling in for the holidays ahead – thankful for the bounty of Mother Nature this year, thankful for the love of great family and friends, and thankful for the opportunity to do what I love. It’s all very good indeed…

Another harvest in the books, and the passing of a legend…

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Harvest 2014 is now put to bed, and man, these are going to be lovely wines. Like everyone in the Willamette Valley, we’ve been scrambling for barrels and space to put it all – the rare combination of quality and abundance have us packed to the gills.

I’ve been traveling the country since the end of harvest, spreading the gospel according to Scott Paul far and wide. It’s nice to finally have enough volume, with our new Wildstock Pinot Noir, to supply top restaurants and retailers on a regular basis. It’s been a blast to get out and see a ton of customers, and so nice to see the wines being so well received.

We celebrated that harvest with our annual La Paulée dinner at Imperial in Portland last Saturday night, with a great group of Pinot-lovers popping a lot of corks over a delicious dinner from chefs Vitaly Paley and Doug Adams (Doug is currently starring on Bravo’s Top Chef!) Too many great wines to mention, but I continue to be blown away by the staying power of my very first wine, the 1999 Kent Ritchie Vyd. Chardonnay. I truly never expected it to go this long…

We toasted Burgundy’s legendary Hubert de Montille, who had passed away that day at age 84 while drinking a bottle of his 1999 Pommard Rugiens with friends in Alsace. Hubert was one of Burgundy’s great characters – you may remember him if you saw the film Mondovino – outspoken, cranky, cantankerous, and larger than life. He is remembered for his long-lived wines (often they took 20 years or more to reach drinkability), and for being the attorney who successfully prosecuted Robert Parker on behalf of Burgundy negociant Maison Faiveley. Parker had accused Faiveley of doctoring the samples they gave him for review. The case was settled by Parker paying a token settlement of 1 Franc, and signing an agreement banning him from ever reviewing the wines of Burgundy again. For this we thank you, Monsieur de Montille!

When in Burgundy I stay in Volnay just around the corner from the de Montille domaine, and saw him often in the village and at events over the years. RIP, Hubert…

Home and Away…

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

It’s a good feeling – all of the grapes are in for the year, the quality is excellent, the fermentations have been smooth and trouble-free, and we can finally breathe for a minute (before getting back to punch-downs, décuvage, press-loads, débourbage, and barreling-down. Whew.)

While Kelley and her crew have that well in hand, I’m heading off for the road.  Look out DC, Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Naples and Bend – I’m on my way! Over the next five weeks or so I’ll be spreading the gospel of Scott Paul and our new line of Wildstock wines to the faithful and not-yet-converted – with lots of tasting events and winemaker dinners in the plans. Watch your email for all the details – we’ll let you know when I’m headed your way.

Speaking of which – great to see our new Wildstock Pinot on the shelves out in the market already – look for this great-value every-day drinker in a store near you now!

You can feel it in the air here, it’s been a beautiful and warm fall, but now it’s really starting to feel like fall. Crisp cool mornings, sunny 65-70 degree days. Perfect time to settle in with some fresh wild-caught Pacific Salmon and a bottle of Scott Paul or two…

I’ll be in touch from the road – stay tuned for more Pinot madness from across the US!

Harvest 2014 – no room at the inn…

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Cheek-to-jowl. The winery is packed with fermenters, each tank full of grapes happily fermenting along, and we are filled to capacity and then some. 68.2 tons in total this year. That’s not a lot – many of our neighbors harvest hundreds of tons – but it’s a lot when you’re only expecting about 50 tons!

2014 will be remembered as a great vintage, and also as one when a very rare phenomenon occurred – fabulous quality and abundant quantity at the same time. Generally speaking, higher yielding years are not often the best quality, especially in the world of Pinot Noir. But every once in a great while, nature delivers quality and quantity in tandem. 1999 in Burgundy is the most recent example, and now we’ve got it here in the Willamette Valley in 2014. Yay!

Nice ripeness (we picked everything at 23-23.5 Brix), good acids, nice low pH, and most importantly great flavor development. These are going to be delicious wines when they hit the world in about two years from now. Very similar to 2012, lots in common with 2008. We won’t know the character and personality of the 2014s for quite some time yet, but we already know they’re going to be among the best we’ve made.

Winemaker superstar Kelley Fox and our crush team with Arabella, and Italian intern Sauro are doing a fabulous job keeping up with it all. Kudos to them, thanks to Mother Nature, and full speed ahead. We are very very thankful…

2014 harvest update – Yes, please!

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

We are deep into it now. The winery is starting to fill up, and we’ll be picking all the rest of our blocks Tuesday through Friday this week, unless the weather does something bizarre and unexpected.

So far, the fruit we’ve brought in has been absolutely pristine- there has literally been nothing to remove on the sorting line except for a few leaves. From the first 15 tons we didn’t fill half of a 5-gallon bucket with stuff pulled off of the line – and that was only second-crop clusters that were picked by mistake.

So far this is reminding me a lot of 2008 and 2012, in terms of the pure quality of the fruit. Zero signs of any maladies of any kind, good ripeness, good acidity, pH levels are correct – this should be another superb vintage, if everything else comes in looking like what we’ve got so far.

Temperatures are forecast to dip this week, cooling off into the 70s, which should serve us well. We should not have to worry about any over-ripeness, and the overall balance is really looking nice.

Azana Chardonnay - photo courtesey Kelley Fox

Keep your fingers crossed for us, and I’ll have more updates here as things progress, including our first ever Chardonnay from our ultra-high-density block at Azana vineyard…

Harvest 2014 begins!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

It’s literally been a year in the making, but here we go! Harvest 2014 starts tomorrow morning – we’ll pick our three acres of Nysa in the Dundee Hills, and then roll on to Ribbon Ridge, Azana and Maresh over the next 10 days or so.

Clone 115 at Nysa - ripe for the pickin'...

Everything is looking very good, and at this point I’m optimistic for an excellent year. Maybe a cross between 2008 & 2012? We’ll see how it all shakes out.
Walked and tasted every block of every site yesterday – if the acidity holds up while the sugars rise a bit more, we’ll be golden. More as it happens…

Azana - getting close, maybe a week away...

Vineyard update 9-9-14

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

We are getting close. Or at least closer. Took our first samples at Ribbon Ridge this morning – from a flavor perspective I’d guess we’re 10 days or so away yet. Will run numbers in the lab this afternoon – Kelley is getting ready for bottling the 2013s tomorrow…

Ribbon Ridge Vyd. - lower block 9-9-14

We’re looking at sunny and hi-70s to low-80s this week, then a spike back up to near 90 for the weekend. The grapes should be very happy indeed. At this point, all looks good, all systems are go. More as it develops. This is where it gets interesting…

Team Scott Paul crushes another 13.1

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Congrats to the intrepid Scott Paul Running Team – despite turned ankles, torn hamstrings, and questionable training habits, we rocked another strong 13.1 at the Wine Country Half-Marathon on Sunday!

Scott, Norm, Daelyn, Frank & Rory - with the perfect recovery beverage, Champagne!

Welcome to the Hotel California

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Every once in a while I get to step back into my former rock & roll life for a few minutes. I spent 30-some years in that world and had a fantastic time. I did it until it wasn’t fun anymore, and stepped away to follow my crazy dream of making wine. It was a great decision, everything has worked out well, and I’ve never regretted a thing. But it is fun to jump back in to that world for a minute – especially knowing that one can indeed not only check-out, but actually leave, contrary to the lyrics of the classic song.

My friends and heroes the Eagles were in town last night for another sold-out show on their never-ending tour of the world. See them if you get the chance, it is truly a great live show. Along with Springsteen, they put on one of the best shows on the planet. It was a thrill to introduce daughter Pirrie to Don Henley backstage last night before the show. It was a great night in the rarified bubble of rock superstardom – now back to our regularly scheduled reality!

Miss P and Mr. Henley backstage before the show last night...