This episode is all about the 150 mile stretch of Oregon called, The Willamette Valley.
Welcome to The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast, I'm your host, Forrest Kelly. From the seed to the glass, wine has a past. Our aim at The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast is to look for adventure at wineries around the globe. After all, grape minds think alike. Let's start the adventure. Our featured winery is: We continue our conversation with Alex Fullerton of Fullerton Wines in Oregon. What life changing decision happened in 2011?
In 2011, we decided to make a garage wine. So unknowingly we were kind of joining a small movement, made a little bit of wine in my dad's one of my dad's best friend's garages/ crawlspaces. My dad and I were kind of gung ho on starting to produce a little bit of wine. So we convinced my mom to start a little wine company in 2011, started producing about 250 cases in 2011, and within a few years, we're producing 5000 cases a year now.
Wow, that was a nice start, making wine in a garage/crawl space. And then what happened?
The next year, 2012, we started in a co-op winery in Portland where several different winemakers all ran a little sliver of space in this winery. And since then, we've we moved to one winery for one harvest. And after that, we've been sharing an old defunct winery space with another producer. So it's two of us under one roof in a much more harmonized facility with a lot of bells and whistles.
Now, the Willamette Valley in Oregon is not just home to 70 percent of the population. So if you picture it, it runs north and south in Oregon and it's 150 miles long, obviously, because of location, the climate is cooler than California. And how does that affect you?
Yeah, the growing season is quite a bit shorter. And then I guess I should just say the growing degree days are a lot shorter as well. And that's a measure of accumulation of heat units that the plant can use to grow. The types of grapes that we can consistently ripen in the Willamette Valley are quite different from Napa Valley. We do have quite a diversity of temperatures within the valley, different temperatures and different places as we have for for example, it's really hot here and it's too hot for the really warm sites to express themselves in their best possible way. Then maybe some of our cooler sites will be really, really nice. And then in the cooler years, it can be nice to have some warmer sides to ripen earlier. So you're not putting all your eggs in one basket and having having too cooler year for one vineyard. So that's actually one reason why we really love working with a wide variety of vineyards throughout the Valley.
Well, is it true I was reading somewhere that the Willamette Valley is home to some of the best and most expensive Pinot Noir in the world?
Yeah, we do. I mean, there are producers now that are that are selling $300 hundred dollar bottles of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, which is definitely a statement, I will say, about just the climate in the Willamette Valley. It's beautiful for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and those many places, many pockets of California that I love and super interesting Canadian Pinot Noir. And I'm very biased when I say this, but my favorite Pinot Noir growing region in North America is the Willamette Valley.
Well, I guess this next question would be kind of twofold at Fullarton Wines. How do you feel your wine is unique and what do you believe to be unique about the Willamette Valley? really Well, we always have told people and what you what you can come to our tasting room and experience is the whole Willamette Valley, not just one place within the Willamette Valley, which is very fun to do, tasting one vineyard at one place. We love working with a wide variety of vineyards and then working to showcase what we like about that vineyard will hopefully taste a huge variety within our wines, even though for the most part it's a lot of pinot noir. There are some other varietals growing within the small geographic distance of each other. There's a huge diversity in the soils sun and the kind of material in the grapes and how we make the wines. But really in the terroir within the Willamette Valley, there is a lot of diversity. Some places you can go and experience that diversity. But in my opinion, not that many. Thank you for listening. I'm Forrest Kelly. This episode of The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast was produced by his. You like the show, please tell your friends and pets and subscribe until next time pour the wine and ponder your next adventure.