“Making pretty wines in the Pacific Northwest, one barrel at a time. 100% inspiré par les vins de Loire!”
Leah Jørgensen created her own interpretations of Loire style wines based on site selection, taking a close look at what the vintage is giving her. She has worked in every capacity of the wine industry (aside from vineyard management) for the past fifteen years. She began working in the Oregon wine industry in 2004, starting at Erath Vineyards in Dundee, transitioning to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Woodinville, WA, and returning to Oregon to work for Adelsheim Vineyard, before offering marketing consulting for a handful of wineries. At the same time, she studied enology for two years at the Northwest Viticulture Center in Salem. She worked her first full harvest at Anne Amie Vineyards in 2009, followed by two years of cellar work at Shea Wine Cellars in 2010 and 2011. She also assisted Shea winemaker Drew Voit with his Harper Voit wines both vintages, and crafted her first small lot of Cabernet Franc in 2011. In 2012, she went on to assist winemaker Tom Fitzpatrick as his sole harvest intern at Alloro Vineyard while working on her second vintage at a new winemaking facility on Beacon Hill Vineyard in Gaston.
Leah knew she wanted to make wine the moment she visited Oregon, although she initially had an inclination to ferment grape juice back when she worked at a small winery in Virginia. It took her only a decade to realize that dream. The desire to work with Oregon fruit is definitely a nod to her father’s agricultural roots, as he grew up on a small family farm outside of Eugene. Her ultimate dream is to buy that land back one day, plant a vineyard and name it after her grandparents. Leah’s passion for the Loire Valley stems from her experience working for the distributor that represented Louis Dressner Selection in her hometown of Washington, DC.
Her signature, limited Blanc de Cabernet Franc is the very first commercial still white Cab Franc made. In 2012, she added the Oregon “Tour Rain” Vin Rouge, a fruity Gamay Noir/Cabernet Franc blend inspired by the Touraine region in the Loire, and a 100% “Flat Track” Cabernet Franc – Limited Roller Derby Edition, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Portland’s Rose City Rollers league and associated charities.
In 2016, Oregon saw its earliest vintage on record, providing exceptional fruit quality with closer to normal yields. An unusually warm spring gave way to moderate summer conditions, with even growing conditions through véraison; however, it was an intense growing season due to the early start. Fruit throughout the state showed excellent concentration and complexity with characteristic natural acidity. Bud break initiated the vintage two to four weeks earlier than normal. Warmer than normal conditions in most areas in August brought on the early vintage and many vineyards in Southern Oregon started to harvest white varieties as early as the second week in August, with early ripening red varieties as early as the last week of the month or in early September. Many Southern Oregon vineyards adapted to the third straight year of early and warm vintages by initiating night harvesting, allowing growers to deliver cold fruit to the winery and wrap up picking each day by mid-morning. The late ripening reds had plenty of time to develop dark colors, good tannin structure, and dense, concentration of flavors with impeccable balance.
Viticulture and vinification practices: many of Leah’s vineyard partners are organic in practices. They are all LIVE certified and Salmon Safe. The grapes are always hand-harvested. Depending on the vintage – Leah had issue with wildfires, and with that comes the increase vulnerability for volatile phenolics and volatile acidity – cultured yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) might be used as they can resist to these environments. Global warming and increased heat spikes, which introduces larger colonies of spoilage bacteria from the vineyard, esp. pediococcus bacteria, are also a factor, and the only way to mitigate these issues is to inoculate, else have another microbe start and complete fermentation – which can result in an incomplete fermentation, leading to a myriad of problems. When inoculation is needed, Leah uses mostly non-GMO, naturally sourced yeast cultures. The filtration is minimal – crossflow filtration, a gentle process that removes hazardous materials (biogenic amines), leaves the colloidal materials that give a wine its texture and mouthfeel, and removes the material that masks the natural aromatic and flavor compounds that come from the grape. Adjustment for acidity depends on the vintage and site, especially in the light of global warming.