Check out the Music!
Michael's site has a selection
of the best of the music winemakers listen to while making
Loud and Rauccous -
Winemaking at Sineann
Sineann's Big Reds are made to
the strains of Frank Zappa
It was day two on the bottling line for Jezebel, the
wine label by Peter Rosback of Sineann and Aron
Hess of Daedalus
The thundering bass notes of ‘Morning Dew’ rumbled over
the din of the rattling bottles and hissing argon gas purging oxygen
of just filled bottles of wine. We’d listened to Rosback favorite Frank
day before so now it was the Grateful
Aron Hess, a confirmed Deadhead, was in charge of both the bottling
line and boom box. The bottling crew was getting an earful
of the Dead’s June 10, 1973 concert at the RFK Stadium in Washington
DC, a memorable concert in a year of incredible shows.
time at Sineann is a rockin’ musical affair. The house system
is moved out of the barrel room to the sorting line during crush.
Like most wineries at harvest time, a half a dozen crush crew helpers
converge with CD wallets in hand making for a heady sonic mélange.
music has to be turned up pretty loud to be heard over the roar
of the destemmer and whirring of the fork lift truck. The
winery is located at the top of the Chehalem Mountains, with all
of Yamhill County at its feet, so noise levels are rarely an issue.
When 8 tons of old vine Zinfandel roll in at 3 PM forcing a late
night destemming party, Peter Green era Fleetwood
Mac Blues Band is sure to find its way to the CD
changer in short order. Cellar master Aaron Berlin and the crush
crews dictate the ambient music more than winemaker Rosback. Berlin
leans more towards Stevie Ray Vaughn,
the Flying Burrito Brothers and Joni
Mitchell while Peter Rosback would put on Captain
Beefheart and his Magic Band in a heartbeat if he
wasn’t buzzing around tending to barrels.
Grateful Dead Rock on at Bergstrom
Deadheads can cite concert
dates and set lists like they were scripture. Josh Bergstrom of Bergstrom
Winery is one.
“The third set opener of
Dark Star on 8.27.72 at Veneta, Ore. is enough to quicken the heartbeat
of any confirmed fan of the Grateful Dead” says Josh.
older brother turned him onto the Grateful Dead when he was 12
years old along with the likes of The Who, The
Doors and Pink Floyd but
it was the Dead that made the greatest impression on his young
brain. With access to bootleg cassette tapes like the legendary
at Cornell University’s Barton Hall in Ithaca, New York,
the die was cast early.
Josh likes the story telling side of the
as well as the folk roots meets psychedelica element of their music.
The whole community that was the Grateful Dead spoke volumes to
Josh. His first Grateful Dead concerts at Autzen Stadium in Eugene,
came in the mid 1980’s with bands like Santana, Robert
Jimmy Cliff and Bob Dylan as
opening acts. If you walk into the Bergström
winery today it’s a good chance you’ll hear the Grateful
Dead, Phil Lesh and Friends or some lively Jerry Garcia
/ David Grisman bouncing off the barrel room walls.
Josh's collection of bootleg
tapes disappeared after college, but a new batch of live Dead and
Sons of Champlin arrived at crush last year, so you know the cellar
as the grapes were fermenting in their bins.
RedHawk's Blush Wine,
RedHawk Names Wines for Musical Heroes
Maybe nowhere else does music and wine
become one as it does at RedHawk Vineyards just outside
of Salem, Ore. Winemaker Tom Robinson has named a number of his wines
after rock bands
over the years.
Blush wine‘Punk Floyd’ sports
an alien punk rocker on the label, but his best
and roll wine is the blend of young Pinot Noir he calls ‘Grateful
Red’. And while the Grateful Dead is
still played on the winery sound system during open house holidays
the 120 channel satellite radio
SIRIUS delivers music the rest of the year.
Santana, Flamenco Inspire Abacela's Tempranillo
Earl Jones, owner and winemaker at the
Abacela winery outside of Roseburg, Ore. was living in San Francisco
when the whole psychedelic music scene emerged. Earl lived within walking
distance of the legendary Fillmore Auditorium while he fulfilled his
medical residency at a local hospital.
It was not the Jefferson
Airplane or Quicksilver Messenger Service that
piqued his interest, but the Santana Blues Band.
A Latin tune has been beating in his heart since he sipped his first
Spanish Rioja in 1965. It is little surprise that
today, nouveau flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert is
his favorite musician. Strains of impassioned flamenco waft through
the winery as Grenache,
Syrah and Tempranillo sleep in their barrels.
Ottmar and Earl trade
emails about wine and music from time to time. Ottmar’s plea
to Earl is to continue using real cork and shun alternative closures.
Ottmar hopes that continued cork use will help preserve the cork tree
habitat of the declining Iberian wolf.
Classical Music and Eclectic Sounds at
Owen Roe, DePonte
Winemaker David O’Reilly of the
Owen Roe winery in St. Paul is partial to pre-Reformation
choral music and classical music - Handel to Beethoven.
You won’t find Gregorian chants, fugues or sonatas coaxing juice
in the barrel room though. Aaron Lieberman, Owen Roe assistant and
Cottonwood winemaker along with his cellar staff controls the CD player
that resides within the lab’s computer. You might hear a mix
of Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, Doc
Watson or Morrissey though there
is a whole folder of Mozart on the hard drive as well.
At the DePonte
in the south end of the Dundee Hills winery owner Scott Baldwin likes
to top his barrels off listening to the classical music of Vivaldi.
also hear a bit of St. Germain, pioneer of
the new electronic music in France who plays an intriguing collage
of jazz for the DJ remix
culture. Compact discs of Bryan Ferry’s Roxy Music rest
comfortably amongst Bob Marley’s ‘Natty
Dread’ and Crosby
Stills, Nash & Young’s ‘Déjà Vu’.
DePonte's French winemaker, Isabelle Dutartre, is
a huge U2 fan.
You can feel the vibes of U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’ echoing
off the high ceilinged fermentation room walls when you walk in to
Music Defines the Moment at Brick House
The jungle drums beat steadily as you
move down the Chehalem Valley to the ‘dry farmers’ of Ribbon
Ridge. If you are listening to Miles Davis’ ‘Kinda
Leo Kottke at the Brick
House Vineyards in Newberg, Ore. you’d
be at one of Doug Tunnell’s private wine tastings.
Music helps define the moment at Brick House. Working around the winery,
be listening to B.B. King, Jimi
Hendrix or Mali artist Ali
world beat rhythms. When Doug is blending wines from different lots
and barrel, Brazilian folk singer Cesaria Evora or
the late folk/jazz torch singer Eva Cassidy find
their way onto his CD player. Some of his most successful Pinot Noir
blends have been done to these artists.
At open house weekends, wunderkind mandolin player Chris
Thile of new
bluegrass ensemble Nickel Creek or the Dixie
Chicks set a lively tone
for the winery guests.
Mixing the organic spray for Brick House’s biodynamically farmed
grapes takes its own special music. In a large stainless steel tank
the bio-agents take half an hour of vigorous stirring to completely
mix the stew. For this task Doug throws on some bluesy Jimi
Hendrix which includes the 15 minute version of Hendrix’s blues masterpiece ‘Voodoo
Chile’ from the 1968 ‘Electric Ladyland’ album. The
music echos off the winery walls as Jimi sings “I’m a voodoo
chile. Lord knows I’m a voodoo chile!” On this song, Jimi’s
searing guitar notes and Steve Winwood’s Hammond B-3 organ wash
over you like dense waves of molten lava. Late nights as the hearth
fires burn low within the Brick House winery, you might catch some
Gershwin; Yo Yo Ma’s ‘Appalachian Waltz’ or KINK
FM radio ‘Lights Out’ series as Doug returns emails on
his Macintosh computer.
You can’t be a slave to a single
disc CD player, so the radio holds sway in wineries as well. At Brick
House Vineyards, Mt. Hood college jazz station KMHD 98.1 FM and classical
station KPBS 89.9 FM share the radio dial during the week. All day
on Saturday, you are likely to hear Portland, Ore. community station
KBOO 90.7 FM where they play two hours each of country, bluegrass,
Grateful Dead, jazz and blues from 8 AM to 8 PM.
Patty Green's Non-Stop Music
Further along down Ribbon Ridge, winemaker
Patty Green and Jim Anderson of Patricia
Green Cellars have music on
pretty much non-stop during the day. A bank of CD’s put on shuffle
take you from jazzy crooner Harry Connick Jr. to Jerry
Garcia to the
Godfather of Funk – James Brown, all in the course of a half
Patty and Jim's giant wallet of CD’s
carries a huge range of musical styles from blues and bluegrass to
Ray Charles. Patty has
favorite music for different tasks. When it comes time to bottle
the latest vintage, you are sure to hear Johnny Cash singing ‘I
Walk The Line’ or Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness On
the Edge of Town” as leaf green burgundy bottles full of wine
amble towards waiting pallets. On a recent trip to the Cook Islands
South Pacific Patty picked up a CD of Polynesian drumming that no
doubt will be in heavy rotation for punch down this year. There is
like the rhythm of drums to coax newly picked grapes to give up their
Penner-Ash Plays Coltrane
At Penner-Ash, Ron
Penner Ash prefers to get his morning started with a little John
Coltrane playing his classic opus “A Love Supreme’ during punch
down. In the album liner notes, Coltrane dedicates the record to God
as his "humble offering." The spiritual intensity of ‘A
Love Supreme’ leaves one profoundly moved and quietly ecstatic.
It’s no wonder that Lynn and Ron have been producing such deep
Beaux Freres' Music Follows the Harvest
At the Beaux
Frères winery, music
follows the energy and cadence of the grape harvest in an almost Zen-like
manner. Winemaker Michael Etzel rides the rollercoaster
of harvest via the energy of music and the spaces between. The crush
crew is relatively
small and has been coming back year after year. They pick the estate
fruit early in the morning and have the day's crush harvested by noon.
Rowdy Mexican accordion music fills the air on the sorting line as
the harvest gets underway. As the harvest progresses, the music segues
to rock veterans Tom Petty, The
Allman Brothers, Van Morrison and
The punching down of fermenting grapes
is often done in silence or to classical music. Michael wants to pay
special attention to the stages
of fermentation and the feel of the berries as they give way to the
stainless steel plunger. The fermentation room has the feel of a library
morning. The contemplative Etzel seems to be at ‘church’ as
he punches down the cap created by fermenting fruit.
Later on in harvest,
the initial filling of the barrels with juice is a quiet affair.
important to listen to the sound of the pump and the gurgle of the
filling barrels in order to sense how full the oak barrel is. Depending
on the sugar levels left over from the initial fermentation, the barrel
fermentation can be quite active and a winemaker wants to leave just
enough headroom for expansion of the bubbling juice.
At this point,
the fruit is about to settle down and develop quietly. The whispering
of the autumn wind, the cry of raptors overhead and the rustle
of leaves match the slower pace of the end of harvest. This time at
is both exciting and exhausting and the music at Beaux Freres mirrors
the stage of harvest and the crews’ energy level.
Sam Tannahill- Sampling the Entire Palate
of Music and Wine
Tannahill of Francis
in Amity, Ore. believes there is a strong parallel between musicians
and winemakers. A music album may have a dozen songs on it though you’ve
heard only one of the songs on the radio. Unless you bought the CD,
you’ve never heard the rest of the tunes. Similar to a record
album, in each harvest a winemaker may release a dozen different wines
and can only hope people sample the entire palate of his work to capture
the full expression of the vintage. You found the Pinot Noir easily
enough but you missed a few grace notes when you passed up the Côte
Rôtie inspired Syrah or the amber colored late harvest Gewürztraminer
where flavors of acacia honey, lychee, and roasted nuts explode out
of every glass.
During Tannahill's 2004 grape harvest,
ex-Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers auteur Gram Parsons and
Costello were in heavy rotation
along with Uncle Tupelo, Radiohead, Louie
Armstrong, Emmylou Harris and Bob
Dylan. Early on at harvest Mexican polkas share space
alongside Los Angeles Latino roots band Los Lobos.
Late night punch down of fermenting grapes during crush is often done
to the smoky throated phrasing of
troubadour Tom Waits. Tannahill’s office
mate and co-owner of
Winery, Bill Hatcher bemoans
the cacophony of modern music, preferring old school Mozart and Bach to
Argyle's Rollin Soles Listens to Friend
The Argyle winery
in Dundee, Ore. has roots in wide open country, with one foot in Texas
and the other
Australia. Argyle’s connection with the Petaluma winery in
South Australia brought assistant winemaker Willy Lunn and
a rowdy blend of blues, bluegrass and Johnny Cash.
Willy grew up with jazz greats Dave
Brubeck and Herbie Mann on
his parents’ record player, though
he went a different musical direction than his folks.
Both winemaker Rollin
Soles and assistant Willy are big fans of the blues. Blues
John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Robert
Johnson share the CD player
with folkies John Prine, Tom
Waits and Bob
Dylan. The volume on alternative
rock station KRNK 94.7 FM can be sometimes be deafening
as the cellar rats scramble around the fermenters. In the winery
lab you might
hear anything from Wake The Dead, a Celtic
band playing Grateful Dead tunes,
to Mo’ Horizons playing urbane lounge music from Germany to
the Seattle post grunge quartet Death Cab For Cutie.
Argyle winemaker Rollin Soles has
been friends with fellow Texan and country crooner Lyle
his college days at Texas A & M.
Rollin and his buddies used to be regulars at a pizza joint that Lyle
played in. Lyle would practice new tunes to a half empty room and end
up playing music on Rollin’s rooming house porch later in the
week. Lyle still invites Rollin to events in Texas and when Lyle is
in town, Rollin has tickets to his shows. It’s not unusually
to see Lovett’s tour bus parked at the Argyle winery in Dundee
the day after a Portland appearance.
About Michael Sherwood
Michael Sherwood is an Oregon original - your modern day Renaissance man.
He’s done more interesting jobs than most of us – FM radio personality, commercial
logger, commercial fisherman, rock band promoter, neighborhood advocate,
energy conservation expert, arts festival coordinator, software developer,
non-profit executive, beer and wine guy and land use planner.
After 10 years developing software in Seattle, Mike moved back to Portland
and was soon drafted to be the first Executive Director of the Oregon Brewers
Guild, a fledgling non-profit trade organization, which he helped turn into
one of the most dynamic small brewer associations in North America.
All the while he was managing the affairs of
the states craft brewers, he was not so secretly a wine lover and worked providing
marketing assistance to a local winery. Beverages are 'in his blood' as his
family owned a beer and wine distributorship in the 60’s and 70’s in Roseburg.
Today Mike runs a wine sales, marketing and technology
consulting business called Arbre which provides branding and sales support
for wineries large and small. He has also created the Internets first truly
virtual stealth restaurant and underground wine bar called Sub
Rosa. We liked his mix of wine savvy and irreverent humor so much,
we hired him to write for Avalon.