As is the case with most wine regions in the world, Oregon is home to some well-known wineries who pull in thousands of visitors looking to sample some great wines. While it is the larger wineries that get much of the attention, there are a number of smaller winemakers in Oregon who are doing great things. They might not get the headlines that the big names do, but they are carving out a solid little niche for themselves in an industry that is continuing to explode in a big way in Willamette Valley and other parts of Oregon. Let’s look a t a few of the smaller players who you should definitely be looking out for.
Fossil & Fawn – This winemaker came into the business in 2011 with the idea of starting small and staying that way, but quickly realized that they wanted to do more. Like most small winemakers, the good folks at Fossil & Fawn are in this because they love making wine, not because they believe that it is a market they can quickly cash in on. Jim Fischer and his people take a natural approach to making wine, culturing their own yeast from the Silvershot Vineyards, and using as few additives as possible when growing their grapes.
Day Wines – Brianne Day learned the business of making wine by going directly to the source, which meant visiting more than 80 different wine regions in the years before setting up her own winemaking business. Like many new players in the winemaking industry, Day is all about using organic winemaking methods wherever possible, and judging by the results, like the 2012 Day Crowley Station Pinot Noir, it’s fair to say that she and he people are doing something right.
Holden Wine Company – Many new winemakers play it safe by going with the tried and true styles of the region they choose to do business in, but the people at the Holden Wine Company do things a little differently. Sterling Whitted, the brains behind Holden, is happy to embrace the old styles, but he is also constantly looking for ways to deliver a new spin on them. Think of him as a mad scientist experimenting in ways to deliver something familiar, yet unlike anything you have ever tasted before.
Jasper Sisco – Justin Paul Russell is the man behind Jasper Sisco wines, and he is living proof that while winemaking may seem glamorous, it can actually be expensive to get into. When he first started Jasper Sisco, Russell would work his day job at Whole Foods Market so that he could fund his new venture, which he poured his heart and soul into in his free time. That effort is starting to pay off for him, as Jasper Sisco wines are now being recognized in places beyond the Oregon borders.