Tight Focus on Organic Vineyard"
"Hands on in the vineyard and hands off in the winery"
by Jean Yates
Vineyards is Bill and Sharon Beran's realization of a long held
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
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
Bill and Sharon Beran
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
"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
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'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
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
yields low (two tons or less per acre) and implementing intensive
canopy management, Bill and Sharon and are able to produce outstanding
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
removes most of the berries from the stems without breaking the
skins. Beran gets 85 to 90% whole berries, which minimizes the
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
months. Malo-lactic fermentation occurs slowly during the winter
and the wine is racked once following malo-lactic, usually in
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
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