Under the Radar: Analemma Wines
The Columbia Gorge AVA was granted AVA status in 2004, but it still seems to be an “under the radar” vineyard area. The AVA includes land close to the Columbia River right at the spine of the Cascade mountains, including vineyards in both Oregon and Washington.
Even within the Columbia Gorge AVA, Analemma is a new name; you will be hearing more about them in the future! After oenology school and apprenticeships in both Walla Walla and New Zealand, Steven Thompson and Kris Fade started their own label, and Analemma’s first commercial vintage was in 2010. This year, they built a winery and tasting room adjacent to their new estate vineyard in Mosier, Oregon. Julie and I were planning to pass through Hood River over the Martin Luther King weekend, so we arranged to meet Steven at the winery for a visit. Steven and Kris shared their story while we sampled their current wines.
After our tasting, Steven took us into the winery. Clean and organized, the space is very functional. They source used barrels from a winemaker friend in Walla Walla, as they don’t like the influence of too much new oak. We noticed the stack of yellow bins, and Steven showed us the project they are pursuing.
They are working on a Gewürtztraminer “straw wine”, in which the grapes are harvested late and dried further before fermentation starts. They expect the grapes to make a single barrel of wine, with the barrel sitting immediately behind Steven and Julie.
Steven also showed us a Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine project they have in progress. These bottles are 100% Pinot Noir from the 2010 vintage.
Next we walked out of the winery into their new estate vineyard. Some of their first plantings will start producing grapes suitable for wine this year. The section we toured had been planted more recently, and still consisted of root stock. They will graft new vines this coming spring.
Even in the cool, low overcast, the view is beautiful. The historic Columbia Gorge Highway winds through those bluffs above the river. Hiking and mountain biking trails fill the whole area, Mt. Hood and Mt Adams are a short distance away. This is a great place for outdoor activities, and also a pretty special area to grow wine grapes.
They also organically farm cherry trees (the previous planting on their property). However, Steven told us there are newly arrived pests which are very difficult to control by organic methods. They are committed to organic farming, it’s just more risky than in the past.
Analemma Pinot Noir Rosé 2012 ($25 at the winery)
This was a direct press of Pinot Noir grapes grown specifically for rosé. At 1700 ft., this section of the Atavus vineyard would have trouble ripening grapes sufficiently for a red wine. They make a very nice rosé! Steven told us this wine did not have any skin contact beyond bringing the grapes in and immediately pressing them.
Eye: Clear, pretty salmon color
Nose: Light, fresh nose, strawberries, a bit of watermelon rind
Mouth: Nice and trim and lean. Fresh, bordering on tart. Very lively, acidic but not over the top. This wine was really nice with roast chicken.
Analemma Gewürtztraminer 2012 ($27 at the winery)
This wine is also from the Atavus vineyard, originally planted in 1965 and dry farmed. Produced in a germanic style, this wine had a leaner mouthfeel than a Trimbach Gewürtztraminer we drank just before our trip – for training purposes of course. It had great acidity, very lively. Also, it had just a touch of sweetness – it will be perfect with some spicy food. I can’t wait to try it out at home!
Analemma Pinot Noir 2011 ($32 at the winery)
This Pinot Noir comes from the Oak Ridge vineyard, also on the Washington side up in the foothills of Mt. Adams. Oak Ridge was planted back in 1984, is certified organic and is dry farmed. It is a beautiful bright clear red color and follows with lively acidity and bright fruit flavors.
We purchased bottles of each of the wines to enjoy back at home and we’re looking forward to the spring release, when they start shipping to Minnesota!
Our thanks to Steven and Kris for sharing their story, their wines, and for showing us their winery and vineyard. We look forward to great things in the years to come!