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Beran Wine Label"Beran Vineyard:
Tight Focus on Organic Vineyard"

"Hands on in the vineyard and hands off in the winery"
by Jean Yates

Beran Vineyards is Bill and Sharon Beran's realization of a long held dream.

The couple have evolved a wine making hobby into a highly specialized commercial winery. Focusing exclusively on their own seven acre vineyard, the winery produces only one wine, an Estate Pinot noir.

This summer at the International Pinot noir Celebration, Beran Vineyard reaped a few fruits of Bill and Sharon's years of labor, with wine experts lined up six deep at their table to get a taste of the 2000 Pinot noir. The wine has become a quiet phenomenon, gradually building popularity by word of mouth as wine lovers share their new favorite Pinot noir.

The Northwest Wine Summit, one of the most prestigious award organizations in the US wine world, gave the 2000 Pinot noir a Gold medal this year, and the Atlanta International Wine Challenge gave it a Silver Medal. Good reviews in major wine publications are beginning to follow.

The Vineyard is Key to Success

The key to great wine, according to Sharon Beran?

"We have focused all our money and efforts on the vineyard.", she says. "The vineyard has been, for the last three years, organic. It is very obvious that the vineyard has improved. "

For the first time in 20 years, the vineyard was fertilized in 2003.

Sharon says, "We wanted to bring the vineyard into balance. We used mint straw compost from the South Willamette Valley, and applied it vine by vine, on an individual basis. We really hand cultivate the vineyard, with each vine's requirements considered."

Hand cultivation methods used to manage the vineyard include pulling leaves from the east side of the canopy to open up the grapes to the sun, hedging, removing clusters of unripe fruit (dropping fruit) three times a year, and the use of cover crops.

The Beran Estate VIneyard is a seven acre plot planted in 1979. The vines came from Dick Erath, who year ago sold grape vines as well as wine. The vines are self-rooted, as opposed to grafted onto root stock.

The soil of the Beran vineyard is called "Laurelhurst", and is considered a combination of Joury and Willakenzie soil types. A few well known wines are made from grapes grown on Joury soil, for example, Ponzi's Reserve Pinot noir.

Vineyard Terroir results in a Distinctive Pinot noir

Beran winemakers
Bill and Sharon Beran

It was apparent to Bill and Sharon from the first sip that the Beran vineyard produces a unique Pinot noir. Each year, the wine shows intense fruit up front, a lot of intensity, and a soft rich finish.

"These traits repeat, year after year" Sharon says. "We strive for a fruit forward wine that is not overly extracted or over oaked. We try for a Burgundian style, as we feel that better represents the nature of Pinot noir."

The 1999 Pinot noir shows luscious dark berry fruit with a hint of chocolate and black pepper and the long lingering finish that is characteristic of the Beran "terroir". It exemplifies the style that the winery strives for: big, soft and round.

The 2000 Pinot noir exhibits graham, mint and cherry fruit aromas. There are focused flavors of black cherry balanced with sweet barrel toast into a long lingering finish. The wine's intense fruit and soft finish are a result of low yields and slow aging in French oak barrels.

The 2001 Pinot noir was made as a less expensive, simpler wine, to meet the tough market nationwide. Although not aged in as much new oak as the other vintages, the 2001 is selling well as an everyday Pinot noir at a bargain price.

About the Winemaker and the Winery

Bill, a physicist who helped create some of Tektronics' first color displays and printers back in the 70s, started his home wine making with a batch of cherry wine, and got hooked. He has made wine ever since, and currently produces about 500 cases of premium Pinot noir each year.

Located in an historic dairy barn, just 20 miles west of Portland, the winery site was homesteaded in 1875. Surrounded by the vineyard, the winery has a sweeping view of Mt. Hood and the nearby Chehalem Mountains, making it one of the most picturesque sites in the area.

The winery's convenient location (just 20 minutes from downtown Portland) as well as its spectacular site, make it a popular place for tourists and locals alike. There is plenty of parking and the winery can handle small buses (the type that carry about 12 people). The winery is open by appointment and on Thanksgiving weekend.

Beran wine crushWine making

Beran's wine making style begins in the vineyard. The winery practices sustainable farming techniques which help to bring the vineyard into ‘balance’ with the natural surroundings. Bob Grimes, vineyard manager, likes to focus on each individual vine, giving each one exactly the care needed to produce quality fruit. This technique requires much time and effort, yet the owners believe that one must have the best ingredients in order to produce quality wines. By using these techniques as well as keeping yields low (two tons or less per acre) and implementing intensive canopy management, Bill and Sharon and are able to produce outstanding fruit, year after year.

.In the winery, Bill tries to maintain a policy of non-intervention and let the fruit speak for itself. The grapes are hand picked at first light to keep them as cold as possible and then are brought from the vineyard to the crush pad in 500 pound bins. Every cluster is hand-sorted before de-stemming. The de-stemmer is a very specialized machine which removes most of the berries from the stems without breaking the skins. Beran gets 85 to 90% whole berries, which minimizes the bitterness sometimes associated with mechanical mastication of the skins.

The fermentors hold 3000 pounds and are brought into the winery where they are kept cold for 4 to 5 days. They are then inoculated with a variety of French wine yeasts and allowed to become warm.

After a light pressing, the wine settles in a blending tank for 2 to 3 days, and is then put directly into French oak barrels for eleven months. Malo-lactic fermentation occurs slowly during the winter and the wine is racked once following malo-lactic, usually in April.

Food and Wine Pairings

Sharon Beran says that their favorite food to have with their Pinot noir is salmon. "We usually just grill it plain, and have with our Pinot."

Another favorite is marinated leg of lamb. Sharon has the butcher butterfly the lamb,, then marinates it in a mix of their Pinot noir, a little olive oil, rosemary from a huge bush that has taken over the garden, and garlic. They then toss it on the grill, and voila, a gourmet delight.

The Beran Pinot noir also goes well with chocolate and raspberry desserts, says Sharon. They enjoy their Pinot noir with lots of things, including Thanksgiving turkey.

Recipes that go with Beran Pinot noir

Marinated Lamb Chops with Morels
from Organic Style Magazine

Liquid Chocolate Cake
from Andaluca Restaurant

 

 


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