Coattails Winery is the project of Jared and Mikey Etzel, whose father is co-owner and winemaker at Beaux Freres, possibly THE premier Oregon Pinot noir producer. They are the family's second generation of winemakers and grew up at the winery.
Jared and Mikey describe Coattails as their "microscopically sized project." Annually they produce 150-200 cases from their two bottlings Coattails and Horsetail. The Coattails project is made at the family’s winery Beaux Freres and the brothers are sourcing small amounts of fruit from a select few vineyards in the Willamette Valley to produce their pet project which they are determined to make one of Willamette Valleys most recognized low production Pinot Noirs.
More About Coattails Winery and Horsetail Wine
Mike and Jared both honed their technical side of the industry by receiving degrees in Viticulture and Enology from Oregon State University (while at Oregon State Jared worked with the Avalon crew part-time.) Then they went to broaden their palates and exposure to the best estates around the globe by working vintages for Artadi, Clos Erasmus, and Ramirez De Ganuza.
Currently (May 2011) Mike and Jared have "day jobs" in the wine industry. Mike is the new vineyard manager for Brick House Winery in the Willamette Valley and Jared is working for the Bordelaise winemaking consultants Denis and May-Britt Malbec, making wines in the Napa Valley for wineries such as Kapcsándy, Blankiet, and Captûre.
About the Brothers and Growing up at Beaux Freres
From watching their father, the boys learned that part of being a winemaker is the willingness to be flexible and patient, to multitask and to broaden your skill set. "You have to be willing to be a bit of an engineer at the winery, to do the service work on the equipment yourself. And you can't just be a weekend farmer," Mikey said. "You're constantly tinkering."
The vineyard also provided a great atmosphere for the young boys to play. Mikey remembers slinging mud around the vine rows and riding his dirt bike around the property. Jared remembers riding through the vineyards on tractors. "We were always out there," Mikey said. Before very long, the boys began working in the vineyards, earning a small allowance. While other kids might do the dishes or sweep the floor, these two spent a season "suckering," or thinning excess shoots from grapevines, in order to save up for their first Nintendo.
"I gave them little jobs here and there, trying to match the tasks with their abilities," their father said. "They began with little vineyard jobs, and they worked at open houses as ticket collectors and glass washers. As they got older, they did mostly vineyard work in the summers, spreading straw or making compost, pruning, doing trellis work If they needed spending money, they had to earn it.
"I was always hoping that they may want to get involved," Etzel continued, "but when they were in high school, they didn't demonstrate any super interest in the wine industry. It was just a way of life. It wasn't until they left and went to Europe that they said, 'I think this is what I want to do.'