2011 iOTA Cellars Pinot Noir Pelos-Sandberg Vineyard Voluptuous Willamette Valley, Oregon Red Wine
iOTA means small quantity and represents our focus. From vineyard blocks and yields to fermentation lots and case production, we carefully tend to the smallest of details in our vineyard and winery to attain the finest results.
Nestled in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of Oregon.
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From Minnesota dreams to Oregon Wine Country reality, the Pelos Sandberg families have come a long way and learned an awful lot since 1998. Johanna and Don Sandberg (owners/winemakers) relocated from Minneapolis to Portland in 1999 to scope out the feasibility of growing grapes and making wine, specifically pinot noir, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. By the end of 2000, they had moved to the future vineyard site to oversee the land development and learn the business of growing grapes and making wine from the ground up. Family partner, Lynne Pelos (owner), lends financial-marketing support remotely and travels to the vineyard as often as possible!
From the onset, the three founders have worn many hats, including, but not limited to vineyard manager, winemaker, and all that continues to come before, after and in between.
Practices & Techniques
Harvest and “Crush”
We begin by sourcing our grapes from a vineyard we are intimately familiar with, our estate vineyard, Pelos Sandberg. The fruit is picked when physiologically ripe and initially hand sorted in the field. Leaves, stems and “material other than grapes” (otherwise known as MOG) are removed by members of our crew and family as vineyard workers fill the ¼ ton bins that will be used to transport the fruit to the winery.
When the fruit reaches its destination, the “crush” pad, it is hand sorted once more on a table. Underripe berries, and any additional MOG that may have been missed the first time around are removed as the grape clusters are carried by a conveyor belt into a waiting destemmer. Despite what the word “crush” may imply, our grapes are never actually “crushed.” Instead, whole berries are delicately separated from their stems and fall into open-top fermentors placed below the elevated destemmer. The fruit is allowed to cold soak in the smallest possible fermentor that can hold a particular lot, generally two tons or smaller, and is further separated by vineyard block and clone. Once fermentations begin, punch downs are done by hand at least twice a day. Since we consider ourselves simply guides, we do not further interfere with this natural process unless absolutely necessary. At the end of alcoholic fermentation, the young wine is moved by gravity to French oak barrels for further aging.
Aging and Bottling
We purchase three year air-dried French oak barrels in which to age our wine, a large percentage of them new each year. In general, the wine is left undisturbed and allowed to settle on its lees, except when bungs are pulled and barrels topped. Due to our small size, we also taste through each and every barrel during several of these occasions, using sensory evaluation to gauge the wine’s development. After a period of ten months or more, selected barrels of wine are gently moved to a blending tank for further settling and amalgamation before the wine is bottled.
As these meticulous practices attest, our wine is hand-crafted with minimal intervention in the winemaking process. By example, gravity flow is used whenever possible to ensure gentle handling, and only barrels of superior workmanship and quality are purchased to house our wine during parts of the aging process. Since we believe that “wine is truly made in the vineyard,” we take great pains to make certain that the pinot noir grapes from our estate vineyard, Pelos Sandberg, are never compromised. Our motto is slow and steady, never sacrificing the innate quality of our product from source to bottle.