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WINE...

I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty.

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Beaux Fréres Winery

During a recent visit to the Williamette Valley of Oregon, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit with Michael Etzel – Winemaker and Managing Partner for Beaux Frères winery. While on vacation in 1986, Michael came upon an 88-acre pig farm for sale located on Ribbon Ridge area. After some deliberation, Michael purchased the farm with his brother-in-law and uprooted his young family from Colorado and moved to the farm the following summer. He began his focused pursuit as a vineyard manager by planting only Pinot Noir and slowly transforming the old pig and dairy farm into his jewel. The first several years were a struggle – putting vines into the ground, selling off all the pigs that came with the property and renovating the old structures on he grounds. While doing all the work on his own property, Michael worked harvests at Ponzi Winery. In 1990, Michael harvested his first crop and sold the grapes, except enough to make one barrel, to winemakers Ken Wright and Dick Ponzi. In addition to his brother-n-lay Robert Parker Jr, Robert Roy joined the team In 1991 allowing for the renovation of one of the barns to the creation of Beaux Frères Winery.

Mike showing off his new open top oak fermenter

 

The vineyard is situated on 30 acres (24 of which are planted) of steep, contiguous southeast, south and southwest facing hillsides of Willakenzie soils at elevations of around 400 feet. Planting began in 1988 with tightly planted Pinot Noir vines spaced at a density of about 2200 plants to the acre. Currently (2012) the vines range in age from 11 to 24 years and are predominately a mixture of own-rooted Pommard and Wädenswil clones inter-planted with several Dijon clones on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.

During our visit we toured the property and tasted through the 2009 and 2011 vintage. There are several different releases: Williamette Valley Pinot Noir, Beaux Frères Vineyard and Upper Terrace. We found the wines very approachable with a structure that will allow them to age gracefully.

Visits are by appointment only so be sure to contact them in advance if you wish to stop by.

 

 

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