Saturday, September 11, 2010

Evesham Wood; Changing of the Guard

Not too long ago, I found myself down in the Salem area for a wedding. While I was in town I wanted see if I could visit one of the wineries in the Eola-Amity Hills that I hadn't previously experienced: Evesham Wood. When I got in touch with the folks over that way and inquired about a visit to the vineyards and a possible tasting there, I received a response from Russ Raney, the owner and winemaker for 24 years. Russ is hanging up his spurs to fulfill his dream of moving to France, but was kind enough to put me in touch with the new owner, Erin. (Yes, that's spelled correctly.) Erin said that he'd love to have Gwynne and I come by and he could tell us the story of Evesham Wood.

Evesham Wood is situated at the top of a hill and has an exquisite view of the central Willamette Valley looking out towards the Cascade Range. At the top of the property is a Tudor style home looking out over the vineyard. Gwynne and I met Erin at the top of the drive, where we talked about the history of Les Puits Sec, the reputation that Russ had built for both the wines of Evesham Wood, and his management of the estate vineyard. Evesham Wood adheres to some of the most rigid organic and biodynamic standards in the wine industry; 13 acres of Tilth-certified vines, farmed organically for ten years.

Erin never really planned it out like this. He got his start on the East Coast as a wine retailer and importer. His gameplan was to open a wine shop until then he moved to Berkley and got to work a harvest in Napa and Sonoma. In 2007, Erin moved to Salem and started working with Russ after some back and forth. As they worked together, and got to know each other, Russ and his family approached Erin and his wife about buying Evesham Wood. While Erin had always envisioned purchasing land or a vineyard as opposed to an established winery, he couldn’t say no to the opportunity presented.

Erin took us into the caves and we barrel tasted the 2009; Erin isn’t yet sure how the lower acidity of the vintage will reflect in the bottle as the acidity was so prominent in the Eola-Amity 2008 vintage. Evesham Wood is going for acid over alcohol, and they've also been very specific about the yeast they've been using, to the point of exclusively using a yeast that Russ isolated from a bottle of Burgundy 20 years ago.

Erin wants to honor the legacy that Russ has built with Evesham Wood, and looking for ways to expand that legacy. He’s already considering a few ways to grow, like releasing a Temperance Hill single vineyard Pinot and using his own label, Haden Fig, as a testing ground. Erin is interested in working with biodynamics as well as doing some different things with closures, screw caps and glass corks. While things at Evesham Wood are changing, it's clear that with his reverence for both the terroir of the Eola-Amity Hills and his admiration for the business Russ worked so hard to build, Evesham Wood is in good hands.


Post a Comment