Todd Hamina and Biggio Hamina Cellars
Todd Hamina moved to the Pacific Northwest resolved to become a winemaker. Hopping a bus in Colorado, he spent his modest savings to get to Oregon, mecca for would-be Pinot noir makers. Thus began the career of one of Oregon's promising young winemakers, known for his strong opinions on Pinot noir.
Hanging out in downtown Portland his first night in Oregon, Todd lucked into a ride south to the wine country to look for a job. First stop - Archery Summit.
In one of those chance encounters with lifelong consequences, Andy Humphrey, one of Oregon's best vineyard managers, was working at Archery Summit that day. With harvest close at hand, Andy hired Todd as a vineyard worker for the harvest.
The next three years were a nonstop immersion in winemaking from two icons of Oregon winemaking, Archery Summit's Gary Andrus and Sam Tannahill. Andrus founded California's Pine Ridge Winery and Oregon's Archery Summit. Tannahill went on to co-found A to Z Wineworks. While Todd worked at Archery Summit (1996-1999), he assisted Andrus and Tannahill in making many of the era's highest rated Oregon Pinot noirs. Archery Summit's vineyards were managed by Andy Humphrey while Todd worked there. Hamina's exposure to Andy's vineyard management gave Todd an unparalleled course in growing Pinot noir grapes while he learned to make wine.
Todd met his wife, Caroline Biggio, through his landlord after he moved to Oregon. The landlord owned McMinnville's Third Street Grill (now Bistro Maison) and Caroline was a chef at their restaurant. Todd and Caroline married in 2000 and have two children.
After three harvests as "King of the sorting table" at Archery Summit, Todd moved to Elk Cove for the 1999 vintage. Working with Elk Cove's Adam Campbell, he gained more experience, learning from another of Oregon's best winemakers.
Todd worked with several wineries in 2000, ending up at Patton Valley as vineyard manager and assistant winemaker from September 2000 to July 2005. When a move to New York's Finger Lakes region in 2005 fell through, Todd, wife Caroline, and their children regrouped, staying in Oregon. Todd took a job as winemaker at Maysara Winery for the 2005 and 2006 vintages.
The Next Step
The journey from vineyard grunt to winemaker culminated in the founding of Biggio Hamina, Todd and Caroline's own winery, in the summer of 2007. For now, the winery is based at Adea, Dean Fisher's winery, near Carlton in the Ribbon Ridge AVA.
Biggio Hamina makes wine from four prestigious AVAs in the North Willamette Valley: Chehalem Mountain, Dundee Hills, McMinnville and Yamhill-Carlton. Drawing on his contacts with vineyard owners and managers, Todd purchased Pinot noir grapes in 2007 from Ana (Dundee Hills), Deux Verts (Yamhill-Carlton), and Momtazi (McMinnville) vineyards for his first Pinot noirs. He purchased white wine grapes from the Chehalem Mountain AVA.
Biggio Hamina released Pinot Blanc and Melon white wines in early 2008, and single vineyard Pinot noirs from Ana, Deux Verts, and Montazi were released in September. Todd also produced a "Willamette Valley" Pinot noir, a blend of the three single vineyard Pinot noirs' fruit. The winery made about 100 cases each of the four Pinot noirs in 2007.
All of Biggio Hamina's wines are finished with screwcaps.
Winemaking Methods & 2007 Wines
Todd Hamina has strong opinions about wine, and has a distinctive style. He says he wants to make wines with "fine structure, lovely perfumed aromas, and viscous density -- coupled with staying power."
"They won't be shy, but at the same time should not hit you over the head with a club. The goal has always been subtle, supple and satisfying wines."
Todd's winemaking reflects his very specific vision of Pinot noir. He uses whole clusters of fruit in fermenting his Pinot noirs. Only a small percentage of his wine is aged in new oak barrels. He prefers grapes from volcanic soils, "producing more ethereal wines. I'm making food wines regardless of the varietal."
The scent of the Biggio Hamina Ana Vineyard 2007 Pinot noir is memorable - sweet blackberries and spicy wild roses burst from the glass. Appealing red fruit - raspberry, cherry, and strawberry - are joined by intriguing and spicy dried cherry flavors. Fine, seamless tannins and fresh fruit linger in the finish.
The Biggio Hamina Ana Vineyard Pinot noir 07 is made from the 777 clone of Pinot noir, grafted onto 22 year old Chardonnay vines 16 years ago. The soil is Jory, and the wine was fermented with 20% whole clusters and aged in 33% new oak. The grapes come from the western slope of Ana Vineyard, adjacent to Arcus Vineyard. Todd worked with Arcus Vineyard fruit while at Archery Summit (1996-2000). Todd says "my work at Archery Summit taught me what I like about Dundee Hills fruit. I took a page out of Archery Summit's book in my choice of barrels and winemaking for this wine".
Image courtesy Todd Hamina --------------------Ana Vineyard
Biggio Hamina's Deux Vert Vineyard Pinot noir 07 achieves the winemaker's goal of producing a wine with fine structure and perfumed aromas. Dark ruby in color, scents of lavender and violets mix with a hint of dust. Big earthy blackberry and black currant flavors finish with structured firm tannins. This is a wine to cellar or to decant before serving now.
The Biggio Hamina Deux Vert Vineyard Pinot noir 07 was fermented with 72% whole clusters. It was aged in 38% new oak. The vines average 14 years of age, and are planted on Willakenzie soil. The vineyard is adjacent to Shea Vineyard and Willakenzie Winery, and is located in the Yamhill Carlton AVA.
Image courtesy Todd Hamina --------------------Deux Vert Vineyard
Biggio Hamina Momtazi Vineyard Pinot noir 07
Biggio Hamina Momtazi Vineyard Pinot noir 07 offers a perfume of violets and red fruit. Red raspberries, red cherries, and sweet cinnamon intermingle in the glass. Sillky smooth tannins finish this sexy and supple Momtazi Pinot noir.
The Biggio Hamina Momtazi Pinot noir was fermented with 90% whole cluster fruit and was aged in 20% new French oak.