Elegance in a Glass: Evesham Wood & Haden Fig Winery Visit

It’s the middle of January and -10°F here in Minnesota today.  I’m not complaining, but it does get me thinking about warmer days!  We had the opportunity to visit the dual home of Evesham Wood and Haden Fig wineries last spring on a visit to the Willamette Valley.  On a cold winter day, photos of bright green spring days are very welcome!

Haden Fig Pinot Noir shows a beautiful transparent garnet color in the glass

Haden Fig Pinot Noir shows a beautiful transparent garnet color in the glass

Evesham Wood is one of the pioneering wineries in the Willamette Valley.  Russ & Mary Raney established the winery back in 1986 and built their reputation over the next 24 years.  The winery is surrounded by their Le Puits Sec vineyard, the source of their estate wines.  Erin Nuccio, a young winemaker came to work and learn at Evesham Wood around 6-7 years ago.  His desired winemaking approach meshed perfectly with Russ’  and a partnership was unknowingly started.  After working together for several years (with Haden Fig wines being produced at the Evesham Wood winery), Russ and Mary gave Erin the opportunity to take over the operation as they took advantage of an opportunity to retire early.  Erin took over the full duties of both wineries.  While the wines from Evesham Wood and Haden Fig take very similar winemaking approaches, they are different.  Erin continues to make the Evesham Wood wines the way Russ would.  He has more freedom to pursue some alternatives with his own label. That’s dedication.A beautiful spring view of the Willamette Valley from the Evesham Wood winery.

A beautiful spring view of the Willamette Valley from the Evesham Wood winery.

I discovered the two wineries separately, while doing research in advance of our spring trip out to the Willamette Valley.  I didn’t figure out their connection until I was starting to arrange visits, what a nice surprise!  Lucky for us, we arrived to good spring weather and were treated to the visual splendor of bud break.  Just a few days before we arrived, the vines sprouted their first new growth of 2012.  If you get the opportunity to visit in the springtime, Willamette Valley amaze you with a thousand different shades of green.

You will have a new appreciation for the range of color we cal "green".

Le Puits Sec Vineyard: you will have a new appreciation for the range of colors we call “green”.

A day or two after bud break.

A day or two after bud break.

Erin gave us a nice tour of the winery and their cellar.  You can see their approach is delightfully traditional.  Their cellar is built into the hill behind the winery, no A/C required.  As you look around, you will see almost no new looking barrels, and many that have clearly been used for many years.  In fact, they source their barrels used from a winery in Eastern Washington that prefers lots of new oak, but takes really good care of their barrels, then sells them after just a few years.

The cellars are built into the hill behind the winery.

The cellars are built into the hill behind the winery.

Below you can see their bottling station, again, very traditional.  And very cool!

Erin Nuccio gave us an in-depth tour of the winery

Erin Nuccio showing off their high-tech bottling line.

We tasted through a variety of both Evesham Wood and Haden Fig wines.  Both wineries make several Pinot Noirs, but they also make a variety of white wines as well.

No tasting room just a spot outside the winery building.

No tasting room, just a spot outside the winery building.

Our tasting lineup

Our tasting lineup

We enjoyed the full range of wines we had the opportunity to taste.  We took a bunch home, and will be ordering more when our supply runs low.  Evesham Wood wines are distributed more widely than Haden Fig, look for them in your local area.  Both wineries distribute via direct shipping, so that is another good option.

Evesham Wood “La Grieve Bleue” Pinot Noir ($26)
La Grieve Bleue is a newer section of the Evesham Wood estate vineyard, where the vines are typically less than 15 years old.
Eye: Beautiful strawberry red, very translucent.
Nose: On opening, the aroma has just a touch of earth.  Other aromas are red fruits, tart cherries.  After being open a bit, you get just a bit of smoke and cherries.
Mouth: Nice lively acidity, just a touch of tannins.  Nice long finish.  Delicate and ethereal are words that come to mind.
Day 2 – Still really nice.  Good fruit aroma, excellent tart cherry flavor.  Lively.

Elegance in the glass

Elegance in the glass

Haden Fig Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($24)
Eye: Pretty, translucent garnet red.  Almost rose colored in the sun.
Nose: Aroma immediately on opening has just a touch of earth, with good red cherry, floral – rose? and very fresh.  The earthy element seems to come and go, but it is there, even a few hours later.
Mouth: Flavor is nice and light.  Again, cherries, some floral, a hint of spice and if tasted alone, almost a tart acidity.  Also, light tannins at the finish.  Really nice with a cheese plate, especially with some charcuterie – that earthiness brings out the fruit in the wine.

Light and trim, but very flavorful

Light and trim, but very flavorful

Thanks to Erin for spending so much time with us during our visit.  I wish I had become acquainted with these wines earlier and had the opportunity to meet Russ as well.  I understand he still spends some time at the winery, so perhaps at a future visit!  If you are intrigued by the thought of “elegant” more than “powerful”, they might be right up your alley as well.  Give them a try!

haden fig bottle cork 02

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: