Family Affair

What a cool opportunity to grow up in the wine business.

Saturday was a Family Affair in the cellar. Gretchen Boock, our General Manager, had her three kids helping out. Here are a couple quick pics…

What a cool opportunity to grow up in the wine business.

Maybe not the next gen… but possibly the next-next generation of Oregon winemakers :)

*The minors in these photos did not consume alcohol.

It’s raining fruit!

At least Rich, VP of Winemaking, is still smiling. That is always a good thing!

We were very fortunate to enjoy an Indian Summer through the month of September that seemed to be carrying through October as well. Our production crew could not have been happier with the weather for two reasons: sunshine creates much nicer working conditions and the quality of fruit landing on our doorstep has been phenomenal.

However the rain has now set in. To limit the amount of water the grapes are absorbing we called the crew at our proprietary vineyard, Larkins Estate, and said pick it all and bring it in.

Here is the result thus far with more on the way.

At least Rich, VP of Winemaking, is still smiling. That is always a good thing!

Although it might not be ideal for production to see all this fruit at one time we have a very strong team who will put their heads down and plow through it.

It gave me an idea though. Maybe we should market a grape maze as a spin off of a corn maze. We’ll invite friends out during Harvest to wind their way through bins of fruit. Shhhh… don’t tell the production team I even mentioned such and idea. I can only imagine the eye roll I would receive. It is all about making top-notch wine at this time of year. So we better all stick to corn mazes.

There are more outside too, heading to the de-stemmer.

Harvest 2012

Delicious (and yes I tried some) Viognier grapes

Well folks, Harvest 2012 is underway. The winemaking team here could not be happier with the weather we have been having. For anyone not lucky enough to live in our fabulous neck of the woods, we have been having a beautiful Indian Summer. Without a cloud in the sky people are still wearing shorts and tee-shirts and eating dinner outside. Life is good in the NW!

Andy, our Assistant Winemaker, said last week that if we continue to have warm dry days, this harvest could look very similar to 2008 (a very, very good year). That is music to ears of the valley. However, he added that if it were to start raining day-after-day we would have to bring all the fruit in at once and that would create quite the headache for our production team. So everyone keep enjoying the sunshine. I don’t want to hear any mention of fall weather; got it?

Yesterday we had about 5 tons of Grenache Blanc delivered from Craterview Vineyard in Southern Oregon and our team is currently in the midst of pressing Viognier, delivered this morning from Sundown Vineyard, also in Southern Oregon. I can vouch for how great the fruit tastes as I am sitting here munching on some as I type. There is nothing like freshly picked wine grapes!

Delicious (and yes I tried some) Viognier grapes

Griffin showing our intern Trevor how to operate the press

Mmmm fresh pressed grape juice

We had two presses in use today, this being the 2nd

These bins were full this morning, but now that fruit is on its way to becoming the Dobbes Family Estate 2012 Viognier YAY!


Tanzer Scores




It is always exciting to receive great ratings on the wines our team works so tirelessly to craft. New scores were just released from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. We’re proud to say that we received eight scores of 90 points or above. Thank you for enjoying our wines as much as we do.

It is wonderful to see Oregon’s 2010 vintage getting great press right out of the gate.

Cheers to drinking some fantastic 2010 Pinots for years to come!


Creating Tasting Notes

Our VP of Winemaking Rich popping open a bottle

I write a lot about the process and science of making wine. Now I’d like to share another important part of the process, writing tasting notes.

Previously Charles Hesson (our former and dearly missed Hospitality Manager and certified Sommelier) was the Chief author of our tasting notes. He’d sit at his desk with a bottle of wine, then swirl, sniff and sip until he had a sheet full of notes that could be fashioned into a polished page that we hand out as tasting notes.

I asked Charles before he moved to Arizona how he can come up with all the aromas and flavors that he jots down on his notes. He said that he has a rolladex in his head and as he smells and tastes a wine it just spins round-and-round, until he has those ah-ha moments of what strikes him.

I wish that Charles could photo copy his rolladex and allow me to have it as well, but I know that it took many years of study and exploration for him to know all he does. I look forward to the day my rolladex can help me pinpoint what aromas and flavors a wine possesses.

With Charles off to Arizona we had to turn to others to help write the tasting notes. Instead of asking one single person to write them we decided many heads are better than one. The entire production team gathers to discuss and collaborate on the tasting notes. Because each person’s senses will interact with a wine in unique ways hopefully having a variety of senses working together will give a good picture of what the wine will express itself as to many people who will read the tasting notes.

Here are some pictures of our most recent session of Tasting Note collaboration.

Our VP of Winemaking Rich popping open a bottle

The lovely Sarah is our lab technician and just finished her degree in winemaking at Chemeketa

Brad also works in our lab. He may have had the hardest job which was taking everyone’s comments and writing them down in an ordered fashion.

This is a bottle of our Sauvignon Blanc that was pulled out of the tank for tasting. We needed to create tasting notes for the wine club brochure since club members took this lovely wine home in their summer release. However if it went through the bottling accurate notes could not be made due to the bottle shock the wine would be under.

The whole gang doing a great job collaborating!

Then we turn this…

…into this!

Hood-to-Coast Wine By Joe


We are the exclusive wine sponsor of the Hood-to-Coast and Portland-to-Coast Relays! Last year we printed a 30thAnniversary label for Wine By Joe Pinot Noir. (Just to clarify it was Hood-to-Coast’s Anniversary; we are quite a bit younger.)

The first annual Hood-to-Coast commemorative label for the 30th Anniversary of the relay

Safeway could not keep the commemorative bottles on their shelves last year, so we have upped our game for 2012 and have bottled both commemorative Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Once again Safeway will carry the wine for a limited time, but you have the opportunity to pre-order your wine as well direct through us.

If you want to ensure you don’t miss out on this year’s Hood-to-Coast label we highly recommend you pre-order. If you are a participant in the race we will even deliver your wine to you at packet pick-up. Quantities are limited, so we can’t promise this wine will last long.

Take advantage of our 12-12-12 SPECIAL OFFER.

Today was bottling day! The Hood-to-Coast bottles were jostling down our bottling line just moments ago. It was fun to see those fun labels go on our delicious wines.


See you at Hood-to-Coast!!!


New Patio

The comes a level layer of sand

We are SO excited to have a new patio. Nothing against the old one, but if bigger is better we have a winner! With the expansion we’ll be able to fit a lot more people out there on those hot sunshiny days we are expecting all summer long. Right?! :)

Take a look at the progression…

First comes digging out the new patio area and removing the old pavers

Then comes a level layer of sand

Then laying the new pavers

Looking good!



Beautiful from every angle

We can’t wait to see lots of our friends enjoying the new outdoor seating all summer long!

Thanks Wine Julia!

It never gets old to hear people saying great things about our wine. After all, the whole point of what we do is to make “really good” wine.

Check out this review of Wine By Joe by Wine Julia.

Thanks to Wine Julia for enjoying the fruits of our labor! And thanks to The Vintage in Eugene for serving the best under $20 wine Oregon has to offer!




Great scores!


We were so excited to see a long list of Dobbes Family Estate wines that received 90 and 91 point ratings from Burghound.

2008 Youngberg Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 91 pts
2008 Quailhurst Vineyard Pinot Noir 91 pts
2009 Meyer Vineyard Pinot Noir 90 pts
2009 Griffin’s Cuvée Pinot Noir 90 pts
2009 Youngberg Hill Vineyard 90 pts
2009 Patricia’s Cuvée Pinot Noir 90 pts


Malolactic Fermentation

Chromotograhpy 003

As promised I spent the week learning about malolactic fermentation.

In a colder vintage such as 2011 there is more malic acid in the fruit. In warmer vintages the malic respires out of the fruit. Thus in colder vintages ML is a crucial step to producing nice wines, however it is a necessary step in all vintages.

The reason that ML has been what everyone in production is talking about is because it has happened late this year. Typically ML would have already been complete by this time of year, but with such a late Harvest combined with the very cold temperatures we’ve had so far this Spring ML has not kick started on its own and has been progressing very slowly. People from production have been coming in on the weekends to monitor temperatures and turn on the heaters to get the ML bacteria moving and grooving.

Although this has been a late slow year for ML to be complete in the wines it is definitely not a detriment. In fact, if it happens too fast color can be lost, so for that reason a slower ML can be positive for color retention.

Something very important that our lab does during Harvest is to pull samples of fresh wine and push it through ML very fast to see what the appropriate amount of bacteria to add to the wine is. The bacteria (I promise it isn’t a bad bacteria or we wouldn’t put it in the wine) is inoculated into the wine during fermentation and at the end of it. The lab has the ability to add greater amount to a small quantity, which produces in a short amount of time a very good idea of what the finished product will be. A key component of what they look for is the effect the ML will have on the color of the wine. They can test the pH of the wine; a lower pH is good for color stability. They also do a chromatography test, which shows if all the malic acid is successfully turned to lactic acid.

Sarah, our Lab Tech, holding a Chromotography test she completed. She can read it to determine how much of each kind of acid is in the wine tested.

Something important to us at Dobbes Family Estate and Wine By Joe is that we inoculate with enough ML bacteria to ensure it is our bacteria and not indigenous bacteria that is doing the work. We believe that to make a consistent product, where you can guarantee a wine will be true to what our goal is, it is very important to use commercial bacteria. There are winemakers out there however who use only indigenous yeast and bacteria for their winemaking. It would make an interesting blind taste test to try them side-by-side.

If we were to wait for the indigenous bacteria to kick in and take the wine through ML it would typically happen in Springtime when the weather starts warming up, so we are right on schedule for nature’s path even though we purchase our bacteria. However it is also important that the wine is through with ML by next Harvest because we need room to bring new wines in. Not all our wine is bottled before the following Harvest; our Single-Vineyard Pinot Noirs and Syrahs are held for additional time, but space is an issue and we need to have space for new fruit and new wine.

The ML bacteria that we inoculate the wine with converts the malic acid into lactic acid, but it also eats the citric acid and puts out diacetyl. This is what gives wines a buttery component that you can sometimes pick out especially in Chardonnay that has gone through ML. However it does not always give a wine buttery flavor.

An interesting fact is that margarine producers add diacetyl to give margarine its buttery flavor; otherwise it wouldn’t taste like anything at all.

Another interesting fact is that if ML is not complete in the barrel and continues in the bottle it will turn the wine sparkling and give you quite a surprise when you pop the cork and take a sip.

That wraps up what I learned about ML. I hope that you learned a thing or two along with me.

What is ML?

As I wander around the winery I keep hearing my co-workers in production talking about “ML”. I learned around the time I started working here that ML is winemaking jargon for malolactic fermentation, which is a very important part of the wine making process, in red wines. Some wine makers will also choose to put their white wines through ML, but Joe’s style is to not.

The only education I’ve had on this piece of the winemaking process has been through the explanation that it turns the malic acid in the wine into lactic acid. Our Assistant Winemaker Andy helped put in understandable terms for me: malic acid is what you’d taste in a green apple and lactic acid is what you’d taste in yogurt.

Can you imagine taking a sip of an Oregon Pinot Noir and having the tart, sometimes puckering acid of a green apple hit your palate? It just doesn’t seem right does it? However in white wine it can be a desirable characteristic.

That pretty much sums up what I have known thus far about ML. However, since it is such a key component to making wine I want to know more. How about you? I’ll be checking in with my friends in the lab and in the cellar next week. Stay tuned for further education…

“Horse”ing Around


Joe recently brought in a basketball hoop for the staff to use on breaks. Today Andy and Brad challenged each other to a game of H-O-R-S-E. Brad claims he was victorious, however I did not talk to Andy for his side of the story. It sure will be nice to move the game outside when the sunshiny days are upon us; hopefully that will be soon.

Wax on, wax off

Em waxing

I walked through the cellar and found Josh waxing the tops of our Dundee Cuvée magnums. All our large format bottles must be bottled, labeled, corked, and waxed by hand.

The wax goes into our little warmers and we heat it up from a solid to a thick liquid consistency. Then Josh (or whomever) dips the neck of the bottle into the wax at a slight angle until it covers the cork. Upon pulling the neck out of the wax Josh begins to rotate the bottle until only a thin stream of liquid wax is streaming off the tip; at this point Josh uprights the bottle in his hands, all the while rotating the bottle. The continuous rotation is crucial for the wax to evenly distribute and when it is up-righted the motion creates a smooth top. As soon as Josh sees the top is smooth he dunks the waxed top in a bucket of cold water to cool and harden the wax. Voila! A waxed top. Of course I couldn’t stand to just watch the process; I wanted to wax a bottle myself. I am proud to report the first bottle I waxed turned out perfectly! Maybe it was beginners luck because the second bottle I attempted to wax had a very small flaw, which Josh called a tail. But due to my imperfection I also learned from Josh how easy it is to remove the wax (especially right after application) and simply re-wax.
Thanks for the waxing lesson Josh! I had fun learning a new skill.  


Just how handmade is your wine?

1. Slip the foil over the capped bottle

I wandered into our south cellar last week to see what our production staff was up to. I found them hard at work, as always. I had just missed getting to watch them hand fill bottles of 2010 ¡Salud! Cuvée.

Joe blends a small amount (a barrel or less) of wine each year to donate to the ¡Salud! Auction. ¡Salud!’s mission is to raise money to provide health care service for Oregon‘s seasonal vineyard workers and their families. Their main fundraising event each year is the auction in November. The Dobbes Family Estate ¡Salud! Cuvée was won by the highest bidder at last years auction and soon they will be receiving their wine.

Because we make such a small amount it must all be bottled, labeled, corked, and foiled by hand. Here are a few photos of the steps I was able to watch.

1. Slip the foil over the capped bottle

2. Press firmly into the foiler

3. Remove bottle and voila!

And the final step that takes precision and an eye for detail is hand labeling. Shawn and Josh did a great job!

The boys hard at work

Taking precise measurements

Applying the label

Aphrodisiac Sneak Peak

Sneak Peak 025

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants, which sometimes leads to less than romantic evenings for you and your “special someone.” So how about celebrating with Dobbes the Sunday before?

We are excited to share with you that our Aphrodisiac Wine Pairing Event is BACK! And this year is going to be better than ever before.

Let me assure you we do not use the term aphrodisiac lightly. Each food pairing will artistically weave together ingredients proven to ignite your inner desires. I have a feeling the fun will continue well past our event. ;)

We are excited to be working with Chef Wendy Bennett for the first time. Wendy owns the newly opened Wine Country Cooking Studio in Dundee, located above the Red Hills Market. She stopped by last week to taste through the wines for the event with Charles.

Watching Wendy sniff, sip and savor our wines was quite fun. It became clear this Chef has a palate designed to further awaken flavors and aromas through food pairing. It was exciting listening to her ideas and watching a menu take shape as she tasted. The aphrodisiac ingredients she will be utilizing are arugula, pine nuts, leeks, fennel, cinnamon and chocolate.  I bet you didn’t know all those foods had such powers.

Wendy has lived in many different parts of the United States. Her diverse experiences and background in fine foods have led her to develop a state of the art cooking school in the heart of Oregon Wine Country. We are thrilled to have Wendy as our neighbor and guest chef at the event.

Have a look at the menu Wendy will be serving to accentuate our wines.

2010 Grenache BlancGrilled ShrimpwithArugula Pesto and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano


2007 SymonetteFire-roasted Fennel, Finocchiona Salami, Idiazabal with a Fig Jam Drizzle

2007 QuailhurstWild Mushroom Risotto with Duck Confit and Crispy Leeks

2007 Sundown SyrahCinnamon Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel Bacon Sauce

You are sure to have a sumptuous time at this event! But, the fun doesn’t have to stop there. With every three-bottle purchase you will receive a voucher for $20 off a future cooking class at Wine Country Cooking Studio. Wendy’s classes are all extremely hands on and most importantly you get to eat a gourmet meal at the end of it. Check out her class schedule here. And to further entice you take a look at the beautiful kitchen you’ll be able to cook in. A couple lucky people may even win a cooking class compliments of Dobbes and Wendy; you’ll have to come to find out. :) 

Due to limited space this event requires reservations. So if you’d like to do something special for your sugar-pot-pie I highly recommend emailing Charles ASAP or give him a call at 503-538-1141 ext. 157. We will be taking reservations through Tuesday, February 7th.

Dobbes Family Circle Club Members can purchase tickets for $15 (Gold Club is complimentary) 

General Admittance is $20.

The event will be held in our Barrel Room. Plese check in with the tasting room to be escorted over.

The event will be come and go from 1:00 to 4:00.

We can’t wait to see you Sunday, February 12th

Thanks for coming to the Barrel Tasting!

2010 Barrel Tasting

The 2010 Barrel Tasting was a huge success on Sunday! We were so excited to share our wines with our friends and family. There were smiles all around as many people tasted, for the first time, the 2010 vintage.  Red Hills Market  did a marvelous job providing delicious hors d’ouvres. And Jason Okamoto provided the perfect ambiance with his beautiful guitar music.2010 Barrel TastingThe event was so popular we were forced to monitor the number of people we sent over to the barrel room from the tasting room. For anyone who had not sent in an RSVP we thank you for your patience. I believe everyone who hung around the tasting room for a bit was eventually escorted to the event.2010 Barrel TastingTo everyone who attended, thank you for joining us. We love seeing familiar faces, as well as meeting new friends. And remember you don’t have to wait for a party to come see us, stop by the tasting room whenever you are able to say hi.2010 Barrel tastingTo anyone who was not able to make it on Sunday, but wants a sneak peek of our 2010 wines, please read the last entry of our blog for a great insider preview. And if you have any other questions give Charles a call at 503-538-1141 ext. 157.

Thanks again to everyone who was involved. We can’t wait to see you next time!

Preview: 2010 Barrel Tasting

Joe Dobbes wine barrel

Joe Dobbes wine barrel

I sat down with Charles this afternoon to get a preview of what to expect at this Sunday’s 2010 Barrel Tasting Event from 1-4. I am very excited about the event myself because it will be the first time I have tasted from the barrel.  

Charles estimates that 2010 will be a similar vintage to 2007. Both were cooler and wetter, than say 2009, an extremely hot year. Most wineries around the valley are currently pouring 2009s, so they may be fresh in your mind. Prepare yourself for something different from the 2010s.

For those of you with sharp memories the press was not very kind to the Oregon 2007 vintage. They described the wines as flat and uninteresting. As many of us believed back then, the press did a terrible job foretelling the future of the vintage and we hope they do not make the same mistake with the 2010s. I guess it has worked out well for those of us here who know just how magnificent 2007 wines are drinking today. If you haven’t had a bottle recently I highly recommend pulling one from your cellar and if you don’t have any left we still have some tucked away in the tasting room we’d love to share.

Sorry, back to 2010. I get carried away because I am such a fan of the cooler vintages and am thoroughly enjoying as many 2007 bottles as I can find right now. But as far at the ‘10s go Charles believes they will really start coming into their own around the middle of 2013. And then continue to get better from there for another eight years.

Per Joe’s request we will be pulling the wines from the barrels before the event and decanting them. Joe wants the wines to put their best foot forward and recognizes the importance of letting them breathe before hand, as well as bringing them up to temperature from the cool barrel rooms they’ve been living in for over a year.

The 2010s we will have available for tasting are as follows:

Quailhurst Single-Vineyard Pinot Noir. This was the very first single-vineyard designate Joe ever bottled back in 2004. The fruit is from the Chehalem Mountain AVA and the vineyard is located on Parrot Mountain. Since the beginning this wine has been a favorite of our club members. Michael selected this as his personal favorite last week when he pre-tasted the 2010’s. It is very light right now, but Charles believes it is the most Burgundian in style. When we say a wine is Burgundian we mean it is more earth driven, elegant, and very food-friendly. We’ll bottle approximately 228 cases.

Meyer Single-Vineyard Pinot Noir. This wine turned out to be Charles favorite during his pre-tasting. I also want to give Charles credit where credit is due. He blind tasted all the wines and correctly identified each one. Nice work! Meyer vineyard is in the Dundee Hills AVA and the 2010 is showing the typical Dundee red dirt character. Meyer is always one of our most unique single vineyard Pinots. Charles believes it will probably be one of the earliest to open up, but still recommends holding it until mid 2013. We’ll bottle approximately 155 cases.

Symonette Single-Vineyard Pinot Noir. We’ve seen the popularity of this single-vineyard wine grow amongst our club members. It is showing more layers than the Quailhurst or the Momtazi. And we love the age of the vines the grapes are grown on in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. They are 29 years old, making them the oldest vines we deal with. I like to think that this wine has more of a story to tell us with each sip. Charles and Michael both agreed they picked out flavors of rhubarb and sweet tarts. Yum! Symonette is our most limited. We only have 2 barrels, which will equate to about 50 cases. This makes Sunday an even better time to purchase futures of this wine.

Momtazi Single-Vineyard Pinot Noir. We are extremely excited about the Momtazi because it is the first time we are bottling it as a single-vineyard. We’ve been buying fruit from Mo Momtazi in the McMinnville AVA for years, but have decided that this year it deserves to stand on its own. And as with most wines from the Mac AVA it has a lot of oomph behind it. As Charles would say, “it’s got grip.” We’ll barrel approximately 136 cases.

Circle Cuvée. Although we thought we may only sample single-vineyards at the event we are far too excited about the Circle Cuvée to not share it with our friends. This wine is exclusively available for club members throughout the year and is included in one of their shipments. On Sunday that same rule applies for futures purchases; however we will be letting everyone in attendance taste. I think this wine is good enough to make everyone join the club. It is showing the most fruit of any of the wines and due to the fact it is the only blend you’ll be tasting I think you will find the many layers quite appealing.

Have I talked you into coming? It will be a great chance to be educated on what wine tastes like young, before it is ready to drink. Just like Joe, you too, can know how to assess a wine out of barrel and forecast what the future will bring. And Joe will be there to answer all your questions, or hopefully most of them. Patricia, Charles, and Michael will be there too and they’d all love to see you.

All club members who attend will be admitted as our guests. We welcome anyone and everyone else to come out as well, but we will have to ask a $20 per entrance. Join us for fine wine, tasty food from the Red Hills Market, and good tunes from guitarist Jason Okamoto. Come and go at your leisure; we just hope you don’t miss out on this once a year event.

Sybaris Bistro: A True Gem!

Where do you search for restaurants that exude class, offer gourmet food, and make your taste buds tango? Most likely, you may look to Portland for something of the sort. However a true gem that I’d like to bring to your attention is Sybaris Bistro in, none other than, Albany,Oregon.

Sybaris owners, Matt and Janel Bennett, were host to a wine dinner Sunday night, which benefited their neighbor across the street the Historic Carousel & Museum. Matt and Janel were so kind to ask Dobbes Family Estate to be the chosen winery, to complement and help accentuate the delightful food.

Matt also invited a friend, Chef Brian Polcyn, to act as the guest chef for the evening. Chef Polcyn is a highly renowned, award-winning chef and Charcuterie expert. He has authored a book, “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing,” which I have been told is the book to have for any chef utilizing Charcuterie in their restaurant.

Have a look at the menu Chef Polcyn created specifically for the benefit. He even brought many of his ingredients all the way from Michigan.


Proscuitto di Michigan, shaved parmesan reggiano

Speck with all night tomato and roasted fennel salad

Lardo with cracked black pepper

Classic chicken galantine with onion raisin chutney

Duck liver mousse croustade 

~Wine By Joe Pinot noir 2009~

~Wine By Joe Pinot blanc 2010~



First Course

Crispy pork trotters with sauce gribiche 

~Jovino Pinot gris 2010~

Second Course

Pan seared sea scallop with hand rolled gnocchi, pancetta, guanciale, wild mushrooms and spuma 

~Dobbes Family Estate Viognier 2010 ~

Third Course

Maderia brined hickory smoked duck breast on warm winter root vegetable salad and balsamic reduction 

~Dobbes Family Estate Grand Assemblage Pinot noir 2010~

Fourth Course

Pig Plate- Slow roast loin, shoulder confit, grilled belly, braised red cabbage, spaetzle and butternut squash puree 

~Dobbes Family Estate Grand Assemblage Syrah 2009~

Fifth Course

Double Ginger Boston Cooler 

Sixth Course

Pineapple upside down cake, not your mother’s Jello salad, orange-carrot macaron, Suzette sauce


Mary, our NW Regional Sales manager, told me that what Chef Polcyn did with a pig that evening was a true work of art. I could hear the marvel in her voice. She said it was a real honor to have Chef Polcyn in Oregon.

By the end of the night spirits were high, bellies were full and $125,000 had been raised for the Historic Carousel and Museum. I urge anyone who makes the trip toAlbany to dine at Sybaris to also allow time to enjoy the Museum. The early 1900’s carousel is undergoing a thorough restoration. The amazing volunteer staff is crafting everything 100% by hand. It is a remarkable feet that I promise will astound you. If you are interested you can even volunteer yourself to carve or paint the carousel creatures. The project is estimated to last another three to four years.

As I sit at my desk reflecting on the evening I see a common thread that runs from Joe, to Matt, to Brian, to the carousel. Each one is a craftsman. Well, the carousel itself is not, but those donating their time and efforts sure are. Just as passion is the driving force for Joe to make high-class, astonishingly good wine year after year, passion also drives these others in their craft. What a wonderful event to marry all these people and their crafts.

Thank you Sybaris Bistro (Matt and Janel); thank you Chef Brian Polcyn; thank you Historic Carousel and Museum; and thank you, thank you, thank you to each and every person who enjoyed the night as much as we did!


If you don’t already believe me see what people are saying about Sybaris Bistro…

“If your soul craves unusual dinner fare that evidences remarkable creativity, take a short drive toAlbanyfor an extraordinarily well-executed and pleasurable food experience atSybaris.” -Diane Reynolds, Salem Statesman Journal

“This bistro is considered by many as one of the finest restaurants in theWillametteValley.”


Click here to visit the Sybaris Bistro website.

Click here to visit the Historic Carousel and Museum website.

Click here to learn more about Chef Brian Polcyn’srestaurantForestGrill inBirmingham, MI.  

Click here to learn more about Chef Brian Polcyn’s restaurant Cinco Lagosin Milford, MI.


Barreling Down

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

We have many barrels full of wine and still quite a bit more still to barrel. It is a pretty straight forward process, but it does take attention to detail. On this particular day Shawn was on one side of the Luxury cellar barreling Grand Assemblage Syrah, while Steve and Nathan were on the other side barreling a client’s wine.

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Barrels being filled with Grand Assemblage Syrah

Once the must is pressed we learned that the wine is pumped from the press to a holding tank. When we are ready to barrel we use the same pump to move the wine from the holding tank to the barrel.

Joe Dobbes Hrvest 2011

Pump, pump, pump it up!


Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Getting near the end of the tank. The pump directs the wine through the hose, in view, to the barrel.

At the other end of the hose is the racking cane, which is inserted into the bung hole to fill the barrel. On the racking cane is an on/off nob to start and stop the flow of wine when the cane is moved from one barrel to the next. Whomever is responsible for filling the barrel will check it periodically to see how full it is to prevent it from over filling. This is where attention to detail comes in because overflowing the barrel would make a mess and waste great wine, but at the same time the barrel has to be completely full so all wine is touching a surface of the barrel and there is not excess oxygen laying on top of the wine.

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Steve is inserting the racking cane into an empty barrel ready to be filled with wine.


Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Steve is checking the level of the wine as the barrel fills to know when to remove the cane.

Shawn also showed me how to handle the froth that can form around the bung hole while the barrel is near full. He had a spray bottle full of the same wine that he would spray into the bung to make that froth subside. Then he would have a pouring pitcher for topping the wine to the very, very top of the barrel to make sure it was completely full before inserting the bung to seal the barrel. And the last thing to be done once the bung was in place was to spray it down with a sanitizing solution to sterilize everything around the opening to ensure there isn’t anything uninvited that finds it’s way into the barrel.

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Shawn spraying the froth to make is subside. Those little bubbles are full of oxygen and it is crucial that there is no oxygen in the barrel.


Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Shawn is removing the racking cane from the full barrel. He will insert it into and empty barrel to start filling it and then return to this barrel and top it with the wine is the pitcher you see to the left.


Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011
Spraying down the bung with sanitizer

 Voila! Barreling Complete!

Barrel Cleaning

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Things in the cellar have slowed way down. All the fruit has been in for a couple weeks and our sorting line has been cleaned and put away until next year. But we still have very important things to do. There is still fermenting fruit to be pressed, but you and I know all about that already. And then comes the next step… barreling! However there is one other necessity before we barrel and that is cleaning the barrels.

A few months ago, before Harvest took off, all the barrels were sanitized with Sulfur Dioxide (SO2). Then we stored them empty in our barrel room until now. At this point, we are starting to pull out barrels that will be filled with wine soon and giving them a good hot water rinse.

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

The barrel is on it’s side, obviously, with the bung hole facing down. Then you simply place this piece of equipment, the gamajet, inside it. Turn on the pump and hot water shoots ferociusly into the barrel for 2 minutes.

Waste not thy hour! Shawn, our intern, makes himself busy even during the two minute intervals the gamajat is running.

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Shawn is sanitizing bungs (the stoppers that go in the hole in the barrel). He has a bucket of PeroxyClean, a powerful base, that the bungs all start it. Then he scrubs them off and dunks them in his water bucket. He dips it next in his third bucket of citric acid, which neutralizes the base. And then back in the water bucket one last time for a rinse. Then the bungs are ready to go in a clean barrel.

Time to change the gamajet to the next barrel…

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

But then something unexpected happened…

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

Can you see the color of the water coming out? It is purple and it was supposed to be clear. Shawn was not sure the story with this barrel, but clearly it hadn’t been cleaned previously. This is far from the end of the world though. It simply will take an extra step after the gamajet, which actually gives me one more interesting thing to teach about today.

Joe Dobbes Harvest 2011

This machine will clean the barrel above with Ozonated water. Ozonated water is simply tap water that has been impregnated with extra oxygen. The air we breath is O2 and the oxygen cleaning and sanitizing the barrels is O3. The ozonated water is a non chemical base cleaner with an extremely short half life. This means the reactivity diminishes extremely quickly and nothing harmful enters the watershed. YAY! We are very pleased to use such environmentally friendly cleaning techniques.

When the barrels have previously been sanitized with SO2 there is no need to use the device above, all that is necessary is the hot water rinse with the gamajet. It is only in the case of the surprise dirty barrel that an extra step of sanitizing is necessary. The cleanliness of a barrel, when new wine fills it, is crucial to the overall barrel fermentation stage of winemaking and we take this process very seriously.