Embracing Vintage Variation in the Winery

Vintage variation in Oregon is a blessing but it inherently provides different challenges to winemakers and growers each year. Whether a vintage is cool or warm, dry or wet, early or late, can profoundly influence the decisions that a winemaker might make and directly affect the resulting style of wine. In this session, explore how different winemakers approach their craft in the face of variable seasons and a broadly warming climate. Take a deeper look at how certain physical and chemical characteristics of grapes may change beyond the basics of sugar accumulation and acid degradation. More broadly, are winemakers and growers simply reactive or can there be proactive steps in dealing with these changing conditions? Philosophically, how much should one adjust to the vintage in question and how much should the winemaker or grower try to make the fruit meet their stylistic needs?

The discussion will be followed by a tasting highlighting both the beauty of vintage variation and the responses that winemakers employ.

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Speaker Bios

Michael Davies, a New Zealander by birth, came to work his first Oregon harvest in 1999 with a handful of vintages across the hemispheres under his belt and a post-graduate diploma in enology and viticulture from Lincoln University. Over the next five years he cut his teeth on cool-climate winemaking and viticulture as assistant winemaker and vineyard manager at Chehalem. After working a few vintages in New Zealand and Burgundy and starting his own label with his wife Anna, Matzinger Davies Wine Co., he joined the A to Z Wineworks and REX HILL team in 2006 and is now the executive winemaker.
Steve Price has a background is in viticulture and owns Price Research Services, Inc., a consulting company offering technical support for the wine industry in Oregon, California and Australia. Steve owns a vineyard in the Willamette Valley growing Pinot noir and works with wine and grape phenolic chemistry.  He has developed the phenolic assays offered by ETS, works with client support for the phenolic program, and works on a range of ETS research projects.  He has a PhD from Oregon State University in plant physiology and was a viticulturalist at OSU for 12 years.  He has been consulting with ETS since 1995.
Isabelle Meunier is the co-founder and winemaker at Lavinea Winery. A Quebec native, Isabelle Meunier studied winemaking and viticulture in France at the University of Dijon and in New Zealand at Lincoln University before gaining practical experience in renowned wineries in both countries. She moved to Oregon in 2007 as winemaker and general manager of Evening Land Vineyards, a then new venture in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. After seven years there, Isabelle stepped aside to start her own winery venture with partner Greg Ralston with the 2014 harvest. Lavinea is an artisan producer of distinctive single-vineyard Pinot noir and Chardonnay wines from mature vineyards within the Willamette Valley.
Tony Rynders began working in the wine business in 1989 at Mirassou Vineyards in San Jose, CA. While he started in the lab, Rynders ultimately finished this experience in the cellar making wine. Convinced this was his calling, he attended the University of California at Davis and obtained a Master’s degree in Enology and Viticulture in 1992.

Rynders continued to obtain winemaking experience with harvests in Napa (Acacia Winery), northern Italy (Friuli), South Australia (Petaluma Winery), and Tuscany (Col d’Orcia). He held permanent winemaking positions at Argyle Winery (two years) as assistant winemaker, Hogue Cellars (3 years) as red winemaker, and Domaine Serene Winery/Rockblock Cellars (10 years) as head winemaker.

During his tenure at Domaine Serene, Rynders became one of the most highly acclaimed winemakers in America. He obtained more 90+ point scores from the Wine Spectator magazine than any other winemaker during this period of time. The Wine Advocate recognized Domaine Serene as one of only two “Outstanding” producers from Oregon. In addition, Domaine Serene was awarded “Winery of the Year” status five consecutive years from Wine and Spirits magazine. Over 10 years, Rynders developed more than 25 different products for Domaine Serene.

In June of 2008, Rynders launched his own successful wine consulting business, Tony Rynders Consulting. Rynders consults on winery design, vineyard design and development, wine quality improvement, brand development, and product development. In 2010 he created Tour de Force Wine Company, which provides custom winemaking services.

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