Hiyu Wine Farm

The Wild Side of Permaculture

 

Quick facts:

Location: Hood River Valley, North Oregon, USA

Owner & winemaker: Nate Ready, China Tresemer & co.

Vineyard area: 22 acres (out of the 30+8 of the farm total) estate-owned + 16.5 acres in long-term lease + a small amount of purchased fruit

Vineyard management: practicing organics and regenerative agriculture, dry-farmed, minimal pruning. Agroforestry and cider experiments

Soils: sandy loam on basalt on Hiyu’s own plots, poorer sandy soils in the Columbia Valley

Main varieties: highly variegated field blends; Pinot Noir

Annual production (approx.): 2,000 – 6,000 cases of wine, 300 cases of cider

Winemaking: manual harvest into small baskets, whole cluster macerations, foot-treading and basket press, slow fermentation with indigenous yeasts only. Aged in old neutral oak barrels of various sizes. No fining or filtration, no sulfur at bottling (since the wines included in the Winter ’22 release, previously around 5ppm).

 

Fun facts:

  • Hiyu is a true mixed farm with pigs, cows, chickens, ducks and geese living among the vines during different parts of the year and helping to control the vegetation. Nate calls their vineyard management, which has been deeply influenced by Masanobu Fukuoka, “the wild side of permaculture”
  • The property is divided into half-acre blocks, each planted to a field blend from a different place or moment in the genetic history of the grapevine, with up to 150 different varieties and clones in total
  • Part of the estate’s land is being moved into “food forests”, and there’s also a small market garden; their produce is served in the on-premise wine tavern alongside their wines
  • The name “Hiyu” comes from Chinook Jargon, where it denotes “abundance”, “plenty” or “big party”
  • Nate used to work as a sommelier in various fine establishments, including the lauded Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa Valley
  • China Tresemer, the estate’s co-founder and agriculturalist, is also a talented illustrator who creates all the labels.
  • Watch Nate Ready presenting the wines from the Spring ’23 release in this congenial video – chirping birds included!

 

Jump to wines | Hiyu Wine Farm Website

 

Piglets frolic among the vines, cows graze on a neighboring pasture, the snow-covered summit of Mt. Hood floats in the distance; Hiyu Wine Farm surely delivers one of the most bucolic and Alpine sights to be found in the US. No wonder that Nate Ready, the estate’s co-founder, likens this area to the climate of European mountainous regions like Savoie, Valais or Val d’Aosta. Despite its rather low altitude, the proximity of the mountain can keep the vineyards covered in snow as late as May; on the other hand, this part of North Oregon also offers an unusual influence of the nearby deserts, causing the character of the vintages to swing from cool and acid-driven to warm and generous, depending on which natural forces prevail.  

“When we began to look for a place to farm, more than 10 years ago, there wasn’t as much diversity in American wine terroirs as there is now; Oregon was kind of the place to be for the wine we wanted to do,” Nate recalls. “It wasn’t a very premeditated decision, though. It was actually rather spontaneous; we simply felt good here when visiting,” he describes how he and his business partner China Tresemer ended up buying the first 7 acres of vineyards, garden, and pasture of what’s now Hiyu Wine Farm. 

Ready, a former somm for high-end California restaurants (including the French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s Napa Valley iconic restaurant) was drawn to winemaking and farming by his need to discover and live closer to the origins of food and wine. He completed multiple apprenticeships in various California, Oregon and Italian wineries, citing his stay with Maggie Harrison of Antica Terra winery as his seminal one. Back at Hiyu, they spent the first four vintages working without any mechanization, getting to know the estate little by little. China Tresemer – a former culinary tours manager who also happens to be a talented illustrator and makes all the estate’s graceful watercolor labels – gradually developed their hands-off farming system inspired by biodynamic / regenerative agriculture icons like Leroy, Humbrecht, Joly, Deiss or Fukuoka. 

“We are very much on the ‘wild side of permaculture’,” Nate laughs, explaining that besides one winter pruning and some under-vine scythe work, their vines are pretty much left to their own devices. There’s no tilling and the vegetation is controlled only by the farm’s pigs, geese, chickens and other animals that live among them at various times of the year. Some of these practices wouldn’t be allowed if the farm was certified, which is one of the reasons why Hiyu pursues neither organic nor biodynamic certification; the reality is that their farming methods go way beyond the requirements, with 85% fewer sprays used than a typical organic or biodynamic vineyard. There’s also no sulfur used in the vineyards, and diseases are fought with natural compounds like cinnamon oil or mixed herbal teas. 

Parts of the land are also moved into “food forests “ – fruit trees, bushes and other perennial plants planted in the wilder forest area in order to produce food. “It’s like creating a space for foraging, with food that tastes really different than from a garden, which is brilliant for our tavern. The forest has more floors, so I like how you can use the space more in 3D than just 2D,” Nate asserts; it’s also a more sustainable and resilient, although of course less productive agricultural method than classical field plantations. 

Another intriguingly wild feature of Hiyu (btw the name comes from Chinook Jargon and means plenty, abundance, or big party of people, referring to the convivial power of food and wine) is the way their vineyards are planted: little by little, Nate and China have regrafted the original Pinot Noir and Gris plants onto no less than 80 different varieties and about twice as many clones, changing the estate into a field blend wonderland. The property is now divided into half-acre blocks, each planted to a different field blend inspired by a place or a moment in the genetic history of the grapevine, harvested and vinified separately. “I’m curious about all the grapes and their diversity,” Nate chuckles; no wonder that Hiyu releases about 40 different cuvées a year in several ranges. Hiyu wines come from the farm itself, while Tzum (to mark or locate in Chinook Jargon, a fitting name for single-vineyard wines) are made as “meditations on a particular place” and named after the several plots that Nate and his team lease nearby, such as Moon Hill Farm or Scorched Earth in the Columbia Gorge, where Eiru or Fionn come from.

Cellar-wise, simplicity reigns: when the given plot is harvested – all varieties together – the whole grapes are gently foot-stomped, fed into a big basket press and pressed directly into old neutral oak barrels of different sizes (for the whites). For rosés and reds, the grapes are left alone as whole clusters for up to two weeks, then gently stomped and left on skins for between a couple of days to as long as 70 depending on the wine, and then pressed on an old ratchet press. The wines ferment quite slowly, with indigenous yeasts only; some of them, named “Spring Ephemeral”, are bottled after a couple of months, but many wines (even the ones from the same plot and grapes, further adding to the diversity of Hiyu’s range) receive an elevage that’s much longer, lasting up to 10 years. Once done, the wines are bottled by hand, using gravity and 5ppm of SO2, unfined, unfiltered and ready to reach their lucky few customers. There are usually only 2-3 barrels of each wine, so we’re quite happy to be able to get our hands on a couple of them and share the Hiyu abundance with the East Coast lovers of esoteric wines from special places!

 

Wines

 

Tzum Moon Hill Farm, Columbia Gorge White— Back to the top

Nate on this wine: “A two-acre vineyard adjacent to Hiyu–they were once part of the same turn-of-the-century farm and we have cared for the vines alongside ours since 2015. The parcel is planted to heirloom California Wente Farm Chardonnay clone, small clusters clone cuttings taken from Celilo vineyard on Underwood, and smaller amounts of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.”

Grapes: solera of about 80% Chardonnay, the rest is Pinot Gris and Noir

Vineyard: sandy loam on basalt Moon Hill, a plot in a long-term lease right next to Hiyu farm that Nate & team takes care of. Planted in 2010.

Making of: an assemblage – solera of wines from the same plot from 2015 through 2020 vintages. The various vintages were always harvested manually and at first vinified and aged separately and represent a kaleidoscope of styles and ways of looking at the site – some with extended maceration on the skins,  some directly pressed. The wines have been assembled in the spring 2021, in a series of 500-liter puncheons to further age together, with the aim of maintaining a kind of “Solera” system for this plot in the future. Bottled by hand, unfined, unfiltered, 5ppm of SO2 at bottling.

Personality:

Moon Hill I: “Some vintages were very fresh, while others showed more salty and oxidative characters. The resulting wine is very deep, shimmering pink in color, with aromas of salted melon and lavender honey. It is both focused and texturally expansive with subtle and enveloping tannins. I find it very exciting to have wine containing all the moments in time, carrying both the more nutty or deeper styles of older vintages as well as fresh aspects,” Nate says.

Moon Hill II:  “It is a wine that is many wines at once. It’s in one sense and wild, unfiltered orange wine, with all the textural and umami-laden elements that accompany this. But it is also like a white burgundy. The notes of honey and lavender remind one of the Chablis and the rich texture and reductive characteristics of a very luxurious and long-lived Meursault or Corton Charlemagne. Finally, the long aging in barrel on the lees of many different vintages creates similarities between Sherry and vintage Champagne. It has the salty, nutty, oxidative depth of the formal and the celestial bread and custard-like essences of the latter.”


 Tzum 2020 Fionn “Spring Ephemeral”, Columbia Valley Red

Nate on this wine: “This is the third and most ethereal release of Zinfandel from the black sands of Scorched Earth Vineyard. It is also the first in a series of spring releases exploring the line between red wine and rosé. It is rendered in style similar to last year’s version of Solais. It is darker and more concentrated than a typical rosé, paler and more delicate than what most people have in mind when they think of red wine. It is in this ambiguous terrain that I find the most pleasure from drinking these days.” The plot belongs to a couple with Irish origins, so Hiyu gave it the name of a legendary Irish hero – a warrior who became all-wise by eating an enchanted salmon.

Grapes: Zinfandel

Vineyard: Scorched Earth, leased plot farmed by Nate&co since 2016. Fionn comes from a very dry plot with low yields, 1.25 acres of basalt subsoil and very dry, pure volcanic sand decomposed basalt. Planted in late 1990s

Making of: the grapes were hand-harvested, left alone as whole clusters for about 8-9 days, then spent a couple of days on skins, receiving only a few pigeages before being pressed directly to barrels with a manual ratchet press. The wine was aged on the lees in older barrels before being bottled by hand the following spring with a little bit of the wine’s CO2. Unfined, unfiltered, 5ppm of SO2 at bottling.

Personality: in Nate’s own words, “perfectly suited to warmer days and the kind of food that emerges from the verdant spring garden. As the glass fills with hazy pink liquid it tastes of strawberries, grapefruit skin, peppercorn, and sage. The periphery of the wine glows with a subtle meatiness, not unlike the finocchiona salami. This wine would also be an amazing companion for pizza, especially one that included charcuterie.”


 Tzum 2019 Eriu, Columbia Valley Red

Nate on this wine: “Eriu is a one-acre field on the eastern side of the site we farm in the desert on the banks of the Columbia. The soil in this part of the site has a higher percentage of cobble vs. sand than the parcels to the west of it, and all of these factors conspire to produce a more high pitched and ethereal rendition of Grenache than the more dense wines that emerge from Aine’s amphitheater of deep sand.” Just as the Fionn above, it belongs to owners of Irish origin, hence its name after the mother goddess of Ireland.

Grapes: Grenache 

Vineyard: Scorched Earth – the same site as Fionn, but flatter part with deeper black sand volcanic soil. Planted in the late-nineties.

Making of: the grapes were hand-harvested, left alone as whole clusters for about 8-9 days, then spent a couple of days on skins before being pressed directly to barrels with a manual ratchet press. The wine was aged on the lees for 12 months in older barrels before being bottled by hand. Unfined, unfiltered, 5ppm of SO2 at bottling.

Personality: the scent of rose water, orange peel, sage, and hibiscus. It’s very pale red and as delicate as red wine can be before slipping into the realm of rosé.

 


 Tzum Eriu “Spring Ephemeral”, Columbia Valley Red

Winemaker’s note: “The “Spring Ephemeral” wines are anti-riserva’s and are bottled early to capture the narrow window where the fruit and flower aspects of each wine are at their apogee. The wines are also at their most fresh and energetic making them the perfect accompaniment to the food in the approach to summer. This latest release of Ériu is everything we hope for in such a bottling. This is the easternmost parcel at our site in the desert on the banks of the river. It’s adjacent to Áine, and like that wine is planted with all the traditional grapes from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but with an emphasis on Grenache. The vines are younger here and the soil is slightly more fertile. We always pick, press and bottle this wine at earlier moments in its evolution than Áine and while it may lack the resonance of that wine it more than makes up for it with charm.”

Grapes: all the traditional grapes from Châteauneuf-du-Pape with an emphasis on Grenache

Vineyard: Scorched Earth – the same site as Fionn, but flatter part with deeper black sand volcanic soil. Planted in the late-nineties at the edge of a rocky, desert pasture.

Making of: the grapes were hand-harvested, left alone as whole clusters, natural fermentation. The wine was aged on the lees until spring in older barrels before being bottled by hand. Unfined, unfiltered.

Personality: “Eating from a Tajine of Apricot, Goat and Cumin, sitting in a tent at nightfall, the sounds of the oude sooth from distant sands. In pale transition between pink and orange, tasting like warm strawberries, thyme flowers, thistle honey and orange peel. The first wine we have bottled from 2021 and shows vintage’s characteristics of a gushing torrent of fruit, spice and flowers that miraculously retains freshness and precision. As one of the most hedonistic wines we have ever bottled, it will not last long,” Nate says.


 Tzum 2022 Eventyr, Columbia Gorge White

Nate on this wine: “This is from a small parcel of Albarino at the rain forest’s edge, in the coolest part of the gorge. It’s always the last block we harvest. Even in a warm vintage, the wine retains surreal levels of acidity and the aromatics are correspondingly intense. In the very cool 2019 vintage, this quality was taken to absurd extremes. There are certain wines that we learn more from than others. Wines that cause revolutions within our approach in the cellar and vineyard. This is one of those wines. I don’t think most wineries would have picked this parcel. The acid was over 18 grams at harvest; a number way beyond anything we had ever seen or tasted. The transformation over the course of fermentation was nothing short of miraculous. Half of the acid was consumed, a lovely texture emerged and the resulting wine was one of the most stunning from the vintage.”

“The name Eventyr means “adventure” or “folktale” in Danish and Norwegian; the wine writer Christina Rasmussen suggested it on a road trip to Orcas Island in the summer of 2019 and we felt like it suited the place. The drawing is by China of course.” 

Grape: Albarino

Vineyard: Eventyr, a small vineyard planted to Albarino on an extinct shield volcano called Underwood Mountain. The site is 7 acres (but only yields about 2-3 tons per year) on the west side of the mountain, in the coldest part of the Gorge with the highest rainfall. The elevation is 1400 feet and it looks south straight down on the Columbia. Farmed organically without tillage (only mowed) and with minimal manipulations to the canopy. “It’s always the last parcel to ripen and the one that benefited most from the absurdly long and glorious summer of 2022. The heat stretched into the last weeks of October and this wine was able to soak up every last bit of it into it’s paradoxical self.”

2019:

Making of: hand-picked and then macerated on the skins for 4 days as whole clusters, then pressed to old barrels with a basket press. The fermentation took about 9 months, stopping in the winter and finishing the next summer (typical for Hiyu) and was bottled by hand after 20 months in wood. Unfined, unfiltered, tiny dose of SO2 at bottling.

Personality: “clear aromas of lime blossom, green peach and salt. The taste is incredibly pure; a distillation of alpine stream as wine,” Nate describes.

2022

Making of: The grapes were hand-picked the first week of November, then macerated in upright wood vats for 9 days. Just as the fermentation was ready to take-off, the grapes were pressed into a large wooden upright for the primary duration of the fermentation process. After the sugar was consumed, the wine was pressed into barrel, where it continued to ferment for another 6 months.

Personality: “Honey and the Flowers from an Alpine meadow, but also mango and a patisserie at dawn. This wine always tastes more like dry GG Riesling than Albarino and this vintage takes the feeling to baroque heights held in only by the wines ultimately Alpine identity. Culture: The alluring glow of southern light invading the darkest recesses of the cathedral.” 


 Tzum Lúnasa, Columbia Gorge Red

Vineyard: Lunasa, a 2-acre parcel with Grenache and Syrah at the 9.83-acre site Hiyu farms in the desert east of Lyle, Washington State (30 miles east of Hiyu). The site is on the banks of the Columbia River at sea level and the vines are planted in black (basalt) sand with basalt monoliths. This particular parcel is in a part of the vineyard where the top of the rows have more cobble and the bottom of the rows are in deep sand. 

All the names of the parcels on this site come from Gaelic/Irish; Lunasa is the name of a traditional Gaelic harvest festival

 

2019

Grapes: cca 65% Syrah, 35% Grenache

Nate on this wine: “This is an example of the unusual qualities of the 2019 vintage. Lunasa is typically one of our richest wines. It’s a blend of Grenache and Syrah and in past years reminded one of what an Australian GSM might taste like if it was grown in the Southern Mediterranean. The wine has the fruit and texture that we associate with Rhone-style wines from the colonized world, but with the ineffable wildness of the Southern Italian hinterlands. In 2019, the early frost and cool conditions rendered a wine more reminiscent of Northern France than what is usually possible here. This parcel was grafted over to white grapes in 2020 and so this is the last vintage (the massive 18 was slumbering in puncheons when we released it) of what was one of the first wines we produced from the Gorge.”

Making of: The hand-picked grapes are fermented as whole clusters, then trodden by foot 2 or 3 times during a short 11-day fermentation. Aged in old barrels for around 13 months, bottled unfined and unfiltered, with a tiny dose of sulfur.

Personality: a full-on trip through the Rhone Valley, as Nate puts it: “Hypothetical wine crossings are always fun and in this case it’s as if Rayas had grown the grapes for their Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone in Cote Rotie. The flavors are of the South, but with the precision, rigor and purity of the cool, steep slopes that lie further up the Rhone river. The Grenache gives the Syrah a shimmering, vanishing quality, quenching its dark heart and rendering it more transparent, pure, and ethereal.”

 
2018
Winemaker’s note: “This is the most epic version of this cuvée. It’s the first time we’ve bottled a pure Syrah from this parcel. Previous wines have always included a significant amount of the adjacent Grenache. The Grenache brings perfume, levity and delicacy, but it also hides the trajectory of Syrah’s power. The 2018 vintage produced incredibly dense wine. The wines are not overtly fruity, high in alcohol or sugar, but they fermented slowly, have substantial tannins, and took a long time to resolve themselves both in the fermenter and the barrel. We’ve typically bottled Lunasa at two years of age (2019 was also an exception and that very delicate wine was bottled at just 12 months). This wine required a full three years of aging in cask to resolve its tannin and harmonize the aromatics catalyzed by the long maceration.”
 
Grapes: Syrah
 
Making of: hand harvest, followed by nearly 100 days fermenting on the skins whole-cluster before being racked into four old 500-liter barrels for 3 years of aging. Unfined, unfiltered.
 
Personality: “baroque in scale and style. It’s closest in style to luxury cuvée’s of Cote Rotie and Hermitage from a warmer vintage but achieves this without resorting to new wood, artificial manipulations of yield, or extreme extraction techniques in the fermenter,” Nate says.

 Tzum 2018 Aedín, Columbia Valley Red

Nate on this wine: “This is a 1.5-acre parcel based on an heirloom clone of Cabernet Sauvignon that came from Chateau Margaux in the 1800’s. Like Feis, Aedin also includes other grapes from Southwestern France, but Cabernet is dominant here. The shoots struggle to reach the top of the wire and the vines produce small clusters with thick skins. This is a rare example of Cabernet fermented with whole clusters and even rarer in that it spent 50 days on the skins prior to pressing. This sets the stage for a wine that is both paradoxical and profound.”

Aedín (or Etaín) is the heroine of an intriguing old story from Irish mythology.

Grapes: field blend of South-western France varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Tannat, Fer, Abouriou, Negrette, Ste. Macaire, Ferrol) with dominant Cabernet Sauvignon of a “Margaux clone”

Vineyard: Scorched Earth, leased 9.83-acre site farmed by Hiyu since 2016 in the desert east of Lyle, Washington State (30 miles east of Hiyu). The site is on the banks of the Columbia River at sea level and the vines are planted in black (basalt) sand with basalt monoliths. This wine comes from a 1.5-acre parcel in the middle of the site’s steep northern hillside. Basalt cobble with very little soil, resulting in very small grapes and low yields (around .75 tons per acre in an average year)

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented as whole clusters that spent 50 days on the skins prior to pressing, then aged for two years in 300L barrels. Unfined, unfiltered, tiny dose of SO2 at bottling.

Personality: “The whole cluster fermentation amplifies both tannin and the green aromas found in a variety where these already occur in abundance. The whole cluster also brings more volume, nuanced aromatics, texture and softness than is possible with a destemmed wine. This softness is layered over the massive tannin of whole-cluster Cabernet. It’s rendered in 3D vs 2D. This wine is made like red Burgundy but from Bordeaux varieties. This is the paradox. The profound comes with the 4th dimension of time; as the wine ages, the tannins will melt as the fresh green aromas make an epic shift toward celestial aromas of mint and spice. More than any other wine we’ve ever released, this demands aging,” Nate recommends.


Tzum Atavus, Columbia Gorge White

This white, made using the solera system, is one of two wines that Hiyu makes from this unique site, whose “panoramic view of the river and mountains encountered upon entering the gate and stepping into the vine rows leaves one with a sense of awe. It invokes a poetic state of mind that is conveyed by the wines as well.”

“We’ve made wine from the site since our second vintage in 2013, and it connects us to both the origins of our project and to the history of grape growing in the Western Gorge. (Hence its name, meaning grandfather or ancestor in Latin.) The vineyard was planted at the same time as the first Pinot Noir vineyards in the Willamette Valley, but at triple the elevation. The high elevation meant that growing grapes on the site was extremely challenging in the cooler growing seasons that defined the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in the Pacific Northwest.”

“The vines there are very old, and there is a significant genetic mutation within the block. Some of the Gewürztraminer can be seen mutating back toward Savagnin; this evolution can also be seen during the wine’s élevage. Throughout its first year in barrel, the wine shows the floral and heady characteristics of Gewürztraminer. During its second year, these qualities begin to subside and a spice — especially long pepper — that is distinctly Gruner Veltliner sequel begins to emerge. As the wine nears three years of age, it becomes very salty and reminiscent of Vin Jaune. This is where the idea for the Solera emerged: to make a long-aged, multi-vintage wine reminiscent of a Palo Cortado or Oloroso Sherry.”

Grapes: Gewurztraminer & Pinot Noir fieldblend

Vineyard: Atavus. Planted in the 1960s at the western end of a south-facing ridge overlooking the Columbia River at Mt. Hood. 

Making of: this is a solera system-wine. Each harvest, the grapes are hand-picked and pressed together, then co-ferment with indigenous yeast. A small amount of the existing reserve wine is bottled by hand from each barrel every year and released, and then replaced with the next vintage. Atavus VI is the sixth bottling of the Solera, a version topped with wine from the 2017 vintage, which slowly fermented for several years. Unfined, unfiltered.

Personality:

Atavus VI: “The character of the Solera oscillates from year to year and can change dramatically as we top the barrels with new wine. The second and fifth versions produced smooth, harmonious, and soft wines without edges. The first and fourth editions were wilder in character, with more flamboyant aromatics, edgier acidity, and pronounced saltiness. For this sixth version, we topped the Solera with wine from the 2017 vintage, which had taken several years to ferment. The radical length of the fermentation provided the opportunity to capture more dissolved CO2, amplified the wine’s top-end flora tones, and enhanced the density of salt and umami-laden flavors. It has taken the wine in an exciting and utterly unexpected direction,” Nate says.

Atavus VII: “This is the seventh and most thunderous release of this Solera based on Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir with skin contact from a site plant in the 1960’s on a ridge above the town of White Salmon, WA. The material in this release includes wines from 2013-2020 including 600L ovals from 2017 and 2018 that were omitted from previous releases for additional aging. This is the most intense bottling yet. With each vintage the wine becomes darker, the aromas of fruit and herb more magically charged as they recede into the aging rose dgold core of the wine. As this happens the wine is miraculously gaining levity, its edges drawn toward freshness by the young wine and through the concentration of acids present in the old wine. It’s expanding in all directions, reaching out to gather more colors, herbs, fruit and rocks.”

Atavus VIII: “This is the eighth and final release of this Solera from an old vineyard perched high on a ridge above
the Columbia. For the past few years we’ve know this moment would eventually come and we’ve been planning something special for the final iteration. Since 2018 we’ve made a small amount of a Ripasso style wine each year. Once it’s completed fermentation we pass the white wine over the pomace from pressing the desert wine (another story of a wine to come!). This creates a secondary fermentation, more complexity and texture. Normally a Solera would be topped with young wine, but when we bottled version VII, in the absence of topping it with young wine, we filled the barrels our reserves of this older ripasso. The result takes this already meditative wine to an entirely other dimension.”


Tzum 2019 Atavus, Columbia Gorge Red Wine

Nate on this wine: “The Atavus red wine plays a stately counterpoint to the Atavus white wine’s radically experimental style. Our approach to this wine has become more refined with each vintage as we try to tap into the alpine delicacy possible from the old vines on this high-altitude site. We don’t do anything to control the fermentation, and the direction they take is always mysterious.”

“We’ve made wine from the site since our second vintage in 2013, and it connects us to both the origins of our project and to the history of grape growing in the Western Gorge. (Hence its name, meaning grandfather or ancestor in Latin.) The vineyard was planted at the same time as the first Pinot Noir vineyards in the Willamette Valley, but at triple the elevation. The high elevation meant that growing grapes on the site was extremely challenging in the cooler growing seasons that defined the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in the Pacific Northwest.”

Grape: Pinot Noir

Vineyard: Atavus. Planted in the 1960s at the western end of a south-facing ridge overlooking the Columbia River at Mt. Hood. 

Making of: the grapes are handpicked and left to ferment with indigenous yeast. It was on the skins for 11 days and only required pigeage twice. Unfined, unfiltered.

Personality: “This was one of the most seamless that we’ve ever witnessed. It produced pure and very floral aromatics from the moment it started to ferment. The cool harvest conditions in 2019 made it possible to bottle uncommonly delicate wines. This wine captures that possibility more than any other from the vintage. Its texture is ethereal and the wine is very aromatic. Now in bottle, its aromas of high-pitched spice and mountain berries are discrete and hiding, but will emerge with thoughtful aging. It’s exciting to drink now, but we recommend holding this for a minimum of three additional years before opening to truly experience what is possible. The ideal drinking window is probably closer to eight to 12 years from the vintage,” Nate says.

 


Tzum Oak Ridge “Spring Ephemeral”, Columbia Gorge Red Wine

Nate on this wine: “Oak Ridge is planted on a hillside above the White Salmon River on the way to Trout Lake. It is the Northernmost vineyard in the Columbia Gorge and the one most impacted by weather systems from Mt. Adams. It is farmed in a gentle and thoughtful way by Thomas and Marlene Woodward. The wine from the site is Alpine in a way that transcends its identity as Pinot Noir.”

Grapes: Pinot Noir

Vineyard: Oak Ridge is the northernmost vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. Planted in the mid-’80s at 1400 feet ALS, in ashy loam site above the White Salmon River in the foothills of Mt. Adams. The Pinot Noir comes from a one-acre plot located mid-slope on the west side of the site. Farmed biodynamically “with monastic dedication” by Thomas and Marlene Woodward. 

Making of: hand-harvest, whole cluster native fermentation. Aged in neutral wood for around 2 years. Unfined, unfiltered, little to no SO2 added.

Personality:

2020: “This is always the most delicate of the red wines we make, pale, with an ethereal texture and aroma that reflects its Alpine origin. The 2020 vintage is darkly fruity, paradoxically lush and firm, transparent and substantial. It’s possible to find all the dark forest berries you can imagine here and leaves one with a lingering, enlivening impression of wild herb-inflected acidity. It’s quite an easy wine to drink and not an easy one to put down,” Nate says.

2021: “Shimmering and ethereal but also slightly cloudy, electric, juicy, and slightly raucous in a way that suggests Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis or some strange mountain grape. It is a perfect counterpoint to the Hiyu 2017 Halo “Perennial”. Both are compellingly wild and savage, but in one instance this is coming from age and patina and in this one from the vibrancy of youth. Culture: Eating Charcuterie on the Deck of the Chalet,” Nate says.

2022: “The wine from the site is Alpine in a way that transcends its identity as Pinot Noir. The wine is shimmering and ethereal but also electric, juicy, and slightly raucous in a way that suggests Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis or some strange mountain grape. Each year we become more comfortable with the wines identity and this version embodies these dichotomies in the most striking way yet. In a way that seems impossible it is at once more taut and delicate, darkly fruity and spine tinglingly energetic,” Nate says. The color of  “flourescent raspberry clouds,” with notes of “huckleberry and alpine apothecary.” 


Tzum Feis 2022, Columbia Valley Red Wine

Grapes: In 2016, the vines were grafted from Syrah to a field blend of all the grapes one would have encountered in Southwestern France in the late Middle Ages: many clones of heirloom Cabernet and Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Tannat, Abouriou, Fer, Ste. Macaire, Negrette etc.

Vineyard: Scorched Earth Vineyard, leased a 9.83-acre site farmed by Hiyu since 2016 in the desert east of Lyle, Washington State (30 miles east of Hiyu). The site is on the banks of the Columbia River at sea level and the vines are planted in black (basalt) sand. The Feis, a one-acre parcel, is closest to the river, where the soils are a bit deeper and have more organic matter than the pure sand or basalt cobbles found in other parts of the vineyard.

Making of: hand harvest, a full month on the skins. Aged in neutral oak barrels, unfined and unfiltered.

Personality:

2019: “This is as Burgundian as these varieties can be. In place of Cabernet’s normal darkness, extraction and resolute structure, we encounter a wine that is pale, limpid and ethereal. Aromas flow from the glass unrushed and with ease. At first taste there appears to be no structure. The wine is edgeless. One expects it to be short, for the flavors to fall off, but the wine is implausibly long. It extends itself from an inexhaustible source of energy that is neither acid nor tannin. It is sublimely gentle for such a young wine and yet I suspect it will age well. It is absolutely delicious and one of the most wondrous surprises from this vintage,” Nate says.

2022: “The wine expresses itself as pure perfume, more like an enveloping cloud than a liquid. It was not what
we expected when planting in such a warm place with these kind of grapes. It lacks the mundane
aspects of fruit, acid and mineral that draw most wines to earth. Instead one is swirling with more
aerial versions of these things. It smells like a thicket, bramble or hedge; of leaves dense with aromatic
oils, ripe raspberry, blackberry and plum, the pollen laden legs of bees and red dust that somehow
contains the essence of summer,” he says. 


 Tzum Elder

Winemaker’s note: “The vineyard is adjacent to Panorama Point with extraordinary views of Mt. Hood and the valley below. The wine from this parcel normally goes into the Spring Ephemeral Pinot Noir. Since 2018 we’ve isolated the steepest part of the site’s central hill to make a separate wine. This part of the site faces due South and is extremely well exposed.”

Grape: Pinot Noir

Vineyard: 1.5-acre section of the site Hiyu farms in the east hills of Hood River

Making of: manual harvest, undisturbed whole-bunch spontaneous fermentation in sealed fermenter, followed by ~two years of aging in small casks. Unfined, unfiltered, no sulfur added.

Personality: “This vineyard makes a very darkly colored, meaty, almost Cote Rotie-like Pinot Noir. It’s always staining and very backwards. Even after a full two-year elevage without sulfur, the wine is still remarkably primary. The cool conditions in 2019 brought extra length, purity and aromatic definition to the wine. Including all three versions of the spring ephemeral Pinot, this is the best wine we’ve made from the site,” Nate says.

“2021 was the most beautiful ferment we have experienced from this steeply pitched hillside in the East hills of the Hood River Valley. The parcel naturally creates a dark and powerful red and our aim during fermentation is to work on the other aspects of the wine. We are always trying to bring more lift and clarity and to find ways for the floral aspects of the wine to emerge and join the fruit. To accomplish this we have moved toward a more infused style of ferment for the site. We pick the site relatively early and rarely touch it during fermentation. Working in this way we are able to go to the press with a large quantity of untouched clusters that have fermented completely intact. The juice that flows from these clusters is absolutely wild. In 2021 this resulted in a wine where the natural density of the site is perfectly matched to an absolutely electrifying spine of charged fruit and umami-laden meat and flower essences. Color: Lipstick red. Taste: Cherry pie on the grid and electrified. Culture: A dark club after midnight the sound is spine-tingling.”


 Tzum Áine

Winemaker’s note: “From the first moment we worked with the Grenache at Scorched Earth, we knew it had extraordinary potential. The deep black sand, the climate at the water’s edge, the proximity of the volcanoes and the wind that whips through the Gorge set the table for an unprecedented wine from this variety. It’s a place that has the potential to deliver the ephemeral magic of Southern Rhone Grenache on sand with the wildness and vibrancy of Nerello Mascalese on the upper slopes of Mt. Etna.

“That said, it has not been easy to tame or understand. Over the past few years, we’ve been making small adjustments to the farming (including adding small amounts of all the traditional varieties from Chateauneuf-du-pape to the field) and winemaking as we try to get closer to the ideal. The initial “spring ephemeral” Grenache releases from Smockshop Band and this summer’s Solais and Oissin (from similar non-grenache dominant parcels) have all been part of this process, but 2019 is the first wine where we’ve been able to manifest the potential on a clear and grand scale.”

Grape: Grenache

Vineyard: Scorched Earth, leased 9.83-acre site farmed by Hiyu since 2016 in the desert east of Lyle, Washington State (30 miles east of Hiyu). The site is on the banks of the Columbia River at sea level and the vines are planted in black (basalt) sand with basalt monoliths. 

Making of: manual harvest, spontaneously fermented whole cluster for 3 weeks on the skins and aged without touching for 23 months in old 500-liter puncheons. Unfined, unfiltered.

Personality: light yet complex, with a compelling array of scents and flavors ranging from fresh flowers, herbs, ripe dark fruit lavender and sweet spices to more animal touches of earth, sousbois, tobacco and leather. Endless pleasure.

 


 Tzum Sean Nos “Spring Ephemeral”

Winemaker’s note: “Sean Nos means “in the old way” and the name can be used to refer to various ancient or traditional activities. The cuttings for this field blend come from a 100+-year-old interplanted vineyard in Tenerife. We grafted them over the Syrah in Lunasa in 2020. The wine can be created as a white, pink or red wine each year.”

Vineyard: On a sandy plateau protected from the wind by columnar basalt mounds. (the ex-Lunasa vineyard)

Grapes: Canary Islands-inspired field blend of Pink Negramoll, Listan Negro, Malvasia Fina, Mission, Palomino &
Babosa Negro.

Making of: the grapes are hand-picked and naturally co-fermented. The 2021 vintage spent 11 days on the skins before being pressed to barrel and bottled in spring 2022. The 2022 vintage was fermented in a 20hl wood vat for 12 days before being pressed to old puncheons. Both are unfined, unfiltered.

Personality:

2021: “This combination of varieties creates an intoxicating set of flavors. The wine is bubblegum pink and hauntingly floral. The first impression is of mouth-filling, strawberries and holy basil. Somewhere during this experience the fruit exits, and the wine is volcanic on the endless finish; all basalt, sand and wind. Culture: On the sunny deck of a canted sailboat in the Atlantic: grilling sardines and wild allium shoots.”

2022: “It is equal parts red, white and pink grapes. By mixing grapes of many colors it allows us to arrive at a translucent strawberry pink by a winemaking pathway that would be impossible with a grape of a single color. We’re able to ferment the wine to dryness on the skins while retaining a very pale color and all the aromatic delicacy this entails. In one sense this is an expansion of the wines color and textural palette, but more powerfully it allows us to experience the wine as different colors in different moments. It is a step further than “orange wine” in this sense. In one moment it can feel like an exotic and intoxicatingly floral white and just seconds later it will have transitioned into a more bloody and sanguine mode, this feeling might last for an instant before the sensation shifts again as if each grape was taking a turn revealing a different aspect of the site.” 

 


 Tzum Clochán, Columbia Valley Red

Winemaker’s note: “This is the rarest and least frequently seen of our wines. We released a single barrel in 2018. We bottled another barrel in 2019, but are still holding onto it. It’s inspired by Sardinian expressions of Graciano and Carignan, but includes many Southern Italian cultivars, from the Tyrrhenian to the Ionian Sea; notably Negroamaro and Nero d’Avola.” 

The name is taken from the beehive-shaped, ancient, dry stone huts on the SW Irish coast.

Varieties: field blend of Graciano, Carignan, Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, Biancolella, Vermentino, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Cataratto and Fiano – about 70% red grapes, and the rest white.

Place: Just inside the desert gate, beside the spring in the oasis, as the cobbled hill rises. Hot and windy, the parcel is on the same steep rocky hill in the desert as Fionn, Aedin and Aos Si. It’s the smallest of these parcels, less than half an acre on very sparse soil of black sand.

Making of: hand harvest. In 2020, this was on the skins for 10 days and made in the style of a dark, southern Italian Rosé or Cerasuolo – wines that tend to be darker than many reds but are intended to be served chilled. Like those wines, it was aged longer in barrels, 20 months in old barrels of mixed size, which allows the wine to develop more profound flavors. Unfined, unfiltered, zero SO2 added.

Personality: “Earth, meat and floral essences. The southern Italian cultivars also bring a very unusual fruit profile; wild, dark berries with orange and cardoon, with some smoke, savoriness and meatiness. Color: Muddled Myrtle Berry. Taste: Tart wild berry, peppercorn, orange peel and cardoon infused in an ancient leather flask. Culture: Gathering in the blue zone with Sardinian shepherds while shaving bottarga over pasta with cardoons.”

 


 Hiyu Crataegus, Columbia Gorge Red

Nate on this wine: “A half-acre parcel of Alpine varieties at the top of the hill, between Arco Iris and Hypericum, below the oaks in a bowl at the top of The May. Named after the hawthorns (crataegus in Latin) that surround it. It’s a field blend based on Syrah. By planting it alongside its genetic descendants on both sides of the Alps, and by adding a few other geographically convenient varieties, we were able to amplify the Alpine quality, bring more levity to the wine via higher acidity, a large proportion of white grapes and some Italianate bitterness. It can best be understood as an Italianate version of “old school” Cote Rotie.”

“This parcel is always one of the last to ripen and we usually pick it at the very end of the vintage. I prefer parcels of this nature; ones that need to be picked at the very end of the season after the leaves have fallen. They offer bigger changes in style from vintage to vintage and reflect the year with greater fidelity. This parcel produced an extremely delicate wine in 2017 and 2019 and an absolutely epic one in 2018.”

Grapes: Syrah, Teroldego, Lagrein, Marzemino, Mondeuse, Viognier, Roussanne, Mondeuse blanche and noire, and others; field-blend whose ratio is about 80% red and 20% white grapes

Vineyard: Hiyu original estate, sandy loam soil, rather cold site. Planted in the late 1990s and regrafted by Nate and China in 2015

Making of + personality, as seen by Nate Ready:

“In 2018, the grapes were hand-harvested and co-fermented as whole clusters in neutral oak barrels removed. The grapes spent 21 days on the skins before being pressed directly to barrels with a manual ratchet press. The wine was aged on the lees for 24 months in older barrels before being bottled by hand. Unfined, unfiltered, 5ppm of SO2 at bottling. One of the most concentrated wines from the farm from this vintage, reminiscent of drinking a good classical Rhone-Valley wine. While it is possible to drink it now, it really benefits from at least a decade of aging and should evolve positively for far longer than that.”

In 2020 the fruit was in pristine condition. We filled a 13hl wooden vat with the hand-picked grapes to the point of overflowing and left the grapes there for two weeks untouched. We took the small amount of remaining fruit and dried it on racks until we were ready to tread the main fermenter. We added this dried fruit as we began to tread adding extra time and energy to the fermentation. The wine was aged for two years in two old 320-liter cigar-shaped barrels. Unfined, unfiltered, zero SO2 added. The wine is a bonfire of juniper bows, waves of lavender incense fill the cold air that surrounds an alpine shrine. Dark fruits abound. Culture: Travelers from the warm south follow the river toward its origin in the mountains. They feast on smoked trout pulled from the frigid stream, aged cheese made from cows that distill the essence of alpine grass and liqueurs of rare plants that grow amongst the scree.”


 Hiyu 2014 The May, Columbia Gorge Red

Nate on this wine: “The May is the original 2.5-acre section of the vineyard that we began farming in 2011. It’s in the far western corner of the property surrounded by the forest full of hawthorn (hence the name, coming from old English mythology). It has the steepest aspect and produces the most intensely perfumed wines from the site. Three vintages of this wine were made by China and Nate before grafting; some were later blended into multi-vintage cuvées, some, as this one, released as single-vintage bottlings. As we started grafting in this part of the vineyard with different varieties in 2016, turning it into four different field blends made from the parcel incl. Crataegus now, this wine is a rare glimpse in our past, bound to disappear.”

Grapes: about 90% Pinot Noir, the rest is Pinot Gris

Vineyard: own-rooted vines planted in the 1990s on sandy loam on basalt, the original 2.5 acre part of Hiyu estate.

Making of: the grapes were hand-harvested and co-fermented as whole clusters in 500-liter puncheons with the heads removed. The wines spent 70 days on the skins before being pressed directly to barrels with a manual ratchet press. The wine was aged on the lees for 24 months in older barrels before being bottled by hand. Unfined, unfiltered, 5ppm of SO2 at bottling.

Personality: richly textured, stunning and layered Pinot Noir.


 Hiyu 2020 Halo “Spring Ephemeral” Columbia Gorge Red

Nate on this wine: “This parcel of equal parts Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris is located at the top of the hill above the wine tavern. Since the 2018 vintage, we’ve used it to experiment with a way of fermenting wine that takes non-intervention to its logical end. The grapes are placed in the fermenter, sealed, and left untouched for several months, before being exhumed and pressed directly to the barrel. It creates a paler-colored wine, but one in which more of the grapes’ intrinsic energy is retained. It also has the effect of greatly enhancing the perfume, especially the spice components of the aroma.”

The name “Halo” refers to the light effects seen in all the parcels in this part of the vineyard, common because of the dramatic weather coming from Mount Hood.

Grapes: Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, roughly 50-50

Vineyard: Halo, a tiny parcel (.75 acres) of equal parts Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris planted at the top of the hill above the winery

Making of: The hand-harvested grapes are placed in the fermenter, sealed and left untouched as whole clusters for several months. Gravity eventually crushed the grapes as they naturally fermented untended, before being exhumed and pressed directly into the barrel. Hiyu’s “Spring Ephemeral” wines are always bottled in the spring following the vintage, in this case, early June. “The intention with these wines is to preserve CO2 and freshness and age from that energy rather than the reductive energy that is based on the interaction of oxygen, tannin and phenols,” Nate explains. Unfined, unfiltered, tiny dose of SO2 at bottling.

Personality: “The wine tastes of alpine strawberry, blackcaps, dried oranges, smoked black tea, and five-spice powder. The wine virtually quivers with energy. It’s incredibly agile, sitting right on the line between firm and succulent, ripe and under-ripe, and new aromas emerge with each sip. This vintage is incredibly sappy and concentrated. It’s thrilling to drink now for its sheer energy but should age for a very, very, long time,” Nate recommends.

 

 Hiyu Aura

The current 2019 is the fifth release of this blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from the hillside above
the Wine Tavern.

Grapes: Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir

Vineyard: a parcel on the cooler, lower slopes of the hillside above Hiyu’s tasting room / Wine Tavern

Making of: In the 2019 vintage, the wine is a composite of three micro-vinifications from the same parcel, all hand-harvested. A small lot of Pinot Noir was picked early and pressed directly. Next picked was a fermenter that was half Pinot Noir and half Pinot Gris; macerated on the skins for eight days prior to pressing. Finally, we picked a small lot of Pinot Gris and fermented it on the skins for 90 days. Aged in neutral barrels, blended and bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Personality:

2019: “a multidimensional wine with striking and unexpected layers. It possesses the cut and precision of Champagne; amplified, saturated and exotic fruit from the co-ferment; and Nebbiolo-like tannin and intense whole-cluster spice from the orange wine component. This wine always strongly blends categories between, white, red, rosé, and orange wines, but it is particularly the case with this vintage. This wine should age for decades and we definitely encourage you to lay down a few extra bottles if you have the cellar space,” Nate recommends. 

2018: “In the past this has been made as a macerated white wine, but in 2018 we made it as a red wine for the first time… sort of. We made three picks from the parcel and each of these picks were fermented on the skins for different amounts of time: 10 days, 24 days and 100 days. They were aged in barrel separately and then bottled together after aging in barrel for 20 months.
This tastes like a theoretical cross between Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux, Radikon Pinot Gris and Ganevat J’En Veux. It smells like Vosne Romanee, but with a texture more ethereal and a wild component that evokes more radical wines from further east.”


 Hiyu Cornus

Winemaker’s note: “Most of the vines from this field-blend are “Pinot Fin”, the clusters are small, open and there is a preponderance of millerandage. The yields are tiny and the wine is paler in color, more aromatic, finer and much longer finishing than previous Pinot’s made on the site from Dijon clones. We typically only produce 300 liters of wine – one barrel – from the parcel.”

Grapes: field blend of all Burgundian varieties, primarily Pinot Noir (over thirty different heirloom clones)

Vineyard: one of four small parcels within “The May”. It’s located above the pond just east of Hypericum, below Crataegus and to the west of Moon Dog. 

Making of: hand picked grapes are native-fermented in a conical, open-top wood vat with whole clusters, untouched until treading by foot in the days just prior to pressing. It’s pressed in a small wooden ratchet press directly to barrel where it aged on the lees untouched. Bottled by hand via gravity directly from the cask, unfined and unfiltered.

Personality: pale color, refined aroma, delicate structure and long finish.

 Hiyu Arco Iris

Winemaker’s note: “It’s always the first parcel we pick. In 2020 this means that it was spared any impact from the fires. These grapes always show intoxicating ripeness at very low sugars and this vintage is almost extreme in this regard. It is just shy of 12% alcohol but smells like a far riper wine.” 

Grapes: Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris

Vineyard: The top of the hill, right behind the winery. Below the forest, gazing upon Mt. Hood.

Personality:  “Scents of the darkest, most balsamic, sour cherries and the density of the aromas remind me of the very
concentrated Gevrey Chambertin of Claude Dugat. In the mouth, the similarity ends. The wine is both surprisingly delicate and charged with energy (in this way it is almost like a crossing of Prieuré Roch with a Robinot Pinot D’aunis). The acidity is explosive and the sensation of stones, meat, tannin and mountain herbs totally staining. This will need about six months to take the edge off from bottling and should age for a couple of decades with ease.”


 Hiyu Pandion

Winemaker’s note: “This is the first release of a field blend planted to Germanic varieties. It’s primarily Riesling and Furmint with smaller amounts of the grapes that would be grown in the vicinity of those varieties. This includes the Alsatian Cultivars like Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Sylvaner, but also more unusual Austrian and Hungarian grapes like Harslevelu, Gruner Veltliner and Rotgipfler. In a sense, it is our version of a Gemischter Satz the field blends made in the Wien, the wine district in the heart of Vienna. Just as these are served in the traditional wine bars in the outskirts of the city, this is the perfect wine to drink with the food we serve in the tavern, especially with the transcendent cuisine of winter.”

Grapes: field blend of primarily Riesling and Furmint with smaller amounts of Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Sylvaner, and also Austrian and Hungarian grapes like Harslevelu, Gruner Veltliner and Rotgipfler.

Place: half-acre between Falcon Box and Chrysaetos on a gentle slope above the White Barn, on the original Hiyu estate. Soil: sandy Loam over Basalt.

Making of: hand harvest, direct press in a vertical basket press (most of the juice released by foot), spontaneous fermentation and aging for a little over two years in one old 400L cask and one 228L barrel. Unfined, unfiltered, zero SO2 added. 

Personality: “The wine takes its structure from Riesling; its mineral density and high acidity, but the flavors that surround that core are emerging from the site and the other varieties. Upon opening it’s bone dry, densely mineral and tastes more of bitter alpine herb and rock than pure fruit. The wine gradually unfolds over several days to reveal layers of honey and exotic citrus; these will become more prominent as the wine ages – which it can for ages. Very versatile pairing-wise. Color: A silvery cloud reflecting the sea. Taste: Wild honey, bitter alpine apothecary and lava bubbling in the rain. Culture: A weary tourist walks into a wine bar on the outskirts of the city and finds a portal to a rustic mountain farm blanketed in snow.”


 Hiyu Moon Dog

Winemaker’s note: “In 2015 we purchased and began to farm the additional 12 acres of vines next to The May that would become Hiyu. Five of us worked together in the field and cellar that year to produce about 850 cases of the inaugural vintage. The vintage was very hot (at moments near 115 degrees during veraison) and all the wines were wildly intense. Many of the wines were part of our first release in 2017 including “Ramato” (the inspiration for the wine that would become Aura) and Arco Iris. The most extreme of all these wines was a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from an amphitheater of vines below Arco Iris and next to the pond. This wine shares inspiration with the wines of the May and was made during a period where we were working with Pinot Noir in a way closer to Barolo than Burgundy.” 

Grapes: Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris

Place: An amphitheater that captures the sun beside the pond and the cool air rising from the river. Sandy loam on basalt soil.

Making of: The grapes are hand harvested, then sealed in an open top wood vat until they consume most of their sugar. They’re then dug out and moved to the press, with an impressive quantity of whole bunches at this stage thanks to the hands-off fermentation. “The flavors that result feel more transparent and closer to the experience of being in the parcel,” says Nate.

Personality: “It feels almost like black and white film. The sour cherries, rose and truffle are there but somehow experienced as desaturated nostalgia,” says Nate. “Culture: Babette’s Feast.” (If you don’t know the film, we highly suggest tracking down a bottle of Moon Dog and savoring it while you watch.) 


 Hiyu Corvus

Winemaker’s note: “The sideways scallop shell is the time-honored emblem of the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) pilgrimage in Spain. We selected the shell to symbolize the wine Corvus, which comes from the Field of Stars: a parcel in the far northeast of Hiyu that’s less sloping and more expansive than the rest of the farm, which makes it feel more open to the stars. 

Corvus, which is based on Cabernet Franc and Mencia grapes, relates to the Camino because Cabernet Franc came from the Abbey Roncesvalles, which is at the beginning of the Camino. Mencia — which has a similar flavor and texture expression to Cabernet Franc, but is in no way genetically related to it — comes from Galicia, so with Corvus we unite two grapes that are linked geographically and (according to the Codex Calixtinus) astrologically by the Camino.”

Grapes: a field blend of mostly Cabernet Franc, with Mencia, Brancellao, Manseng Noir and Abouriou 

Vineyard: a one-acre parcel located on a rolling plateau in the Northeast corner of the farm.

Making of: The grapes are hand harvested. In 2019, they spent 50 days on the skins, before aging four years in barrel and later being bottled by hand. “This is the darkest and most powerful wine that we produce on the farm,” says Nate. 

Personality: “Like all our wines made from field blends it invites ambiguity, combining elements of familiar wines in novel and unexpected ways. In the case of this particular wine it’s as if the aromatic framework from a Napa Valley Mountain Cabernet from the 70’s was laid over a Cornas or Cote Rotie. At first, the wine feels like very dense, cool climate Syrah (though there is none in the wine), but it’s enveloped by this perfumed field of mint in a way that draws one out of the core of the wine and into the more profound, far flung and paradoxical aspects of it’s identity.”


 Floréal Cider

This project is a collaboration with a nearby certified biodynamic orchard, owned and farmed by the Jacobson family at the base of Mt. Hood. The property lies at 2000 feet, 11 miles from the summit of Mt Hood. It has been a farm since the turn of the century, and the first orchard in the Pacific Northwest to become biodynamic, in 1995.  Fun fact: Floréal was one of the spring months in the French Revolution Calendar, named after the Latin word for flower, and a fitting name for a blossoming coop.

Varieties: over 80 different cider varieties but also some heirloom dessert apples that were originally grown on the property (Ashmead Kernel, Wixon Crab, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Ribston and Cox’s Orange Pippin), pears and quince

Site: Biodynamic-certified, 50-acre orchard, irrigated with glacial water and the soils are loam composed of volcanic glass fragments.

Making of: the apples are aged for a month after picking in order to ripen and concentrate, then milled and macerated for a week, and pressed in a basket press traditionally lined with biodynamic straw (used as a kind of sieve, but it also adds spiciness to the final flavor). The juice is then spontaneously fermented and aged in old barrels, without being topped up. In the next vintage, the fresh fermenting juice from the new crop is added in order to initiate the secondary fermentation in bottles and turn the beverage into a slightly sparkling one. Unsulfured, unfiltered, undisgorged. 

Personality: the IV, the fourth release of this cider, is a 2018 cider refermented with 2019 fresh juice. As Nate says: “With each release, new trees begin producing and the selection of apples improves. This cider is the most concentrated to date. It has higher acidity and the texture of the bubbles is extraordinary. It has an almost Selosse-esque, nutty oxidative note that is quite unusual, but is fresh at the same time, so you get the perfect yin-yang balance.”

The V, as in the fifth version of the cider, is a 2019 cider refermented with 2020 fresh juice. Fully sparkling and cloudy. It is bone dry, very firm, pure, aromatic and bright.   


 Germinal Cider

Nate Ready on this cider: “We started to plant a new orchard devoted to cider varieties in 2013, surrounded by forest and the hoofprints of elk. It’s taken a long time to bear, but we’re starting to harvest enough fruit to begin to release cider from these trees – this is the first one. Our goal was to create a cider with a completely different flavor profile than Floréal’s – while Germinal is made from bitter-sharp apples with high tannin + high acid, Floreal is made mostly from aromatic dessert apples (high sugar + high acid). ”

Fruit: Bittersharp Apples (Redfield, Bulmer’s Norman, Summerset Redstreak and Brown Snout), and rare heirloom dessert apples like Karmijn de Sonneville.

Making of: the apples are aged for a month after picking in order to ripen and concentrate, then milled and macerated for a week, and pressed in a basket press traditionally lined with biodynamic straw (used as a kind of sieve, but it also adds spiciness to the final flavor). The juice is then spontaneously fermented and aged in old barrels, without being topped up. In the next vintage, the fresh fermenting juice from the new crop is added in order to initiate the secondary fermentation in bottles and turn the beverage into a slightly sparkling one. Unsulfured, unfiltered, undisgorged. 

Personality: This new cider is deep gold in color with peach highlights. There is less CO2, but the texture of the bubbles is even more delicate and this characteristic carries through to the cider’s acidity. While Floreal is impressive for its concentration, this new cider is more subtle and refined texturally. The aroma is ultimately more complex, with striking floral overtones and aromas of elderberry and blackberry that weave in and out of exotic evocations of citrus. Taste: Elderberry, peach, lime and fir tip. Culture: A gathering amongst the mist and mossy rocks in the pool below a hidden waterfall.


 Espina (Pear, Grape, Plum, Blackberry, Elderberry & Rosehip Wine) 

“Espina” means thorn in Spanish, referring to the rosehips that participate in this wild multi-fruit, multi-vintage blend!

Fruit: Pinot Gris grapes, heirloom Pears, Plum, Blackberry, Elderberry, Rosehip

Vineyard: composed of three different hedgerow- and forest garden-based wines, all wild-grown (unsprayed and unpruned) on the Hiyu farm

Making of: multi-vintage wine in a “solera” style, the oldest being 2017. Each year, the base wine is made by fermenting the pressed Pinot Gris grapes and pressed pears. Next, the plums, blackberries, and elderberries are added to the wine–these ferment whole on the skins for several days, before pressing a second time to continue the fermentation in barrels. Near the end of the fermentation, the reserve wine from the previous year is added; a portion of this is blend is bottled and left to finish the fermentation in bottle as “pet-nat”, while another portion is barreled back down and infused with the later ripening winter berries (and used the following harvest). Unfined and unfiltered, o SO2 was added at any point.

Personality: wild but intriguing, as its origins suggest. Hazy dark orange color, intense aroma of violets, all the fruit involved, roses and more. Tart acidity, light fizz, and low ABV (8%) make it really easy to drink. 


Smockshop Band Columbia Valley Red Wine III 

Nate on this wine: “The Columbia Valley Red is a multi-vintage blend of cellar experiments from all of the sites we farm. The wines are aged for a minimum of three years in barrel, and because many of these parcels are field blends, this vintage contains over 50 different varieties. It gives us the opportunity to explore a way of composing a wine that is utterly different from our normal approach. Wines from Hiyu and Tzum are all from tiny, specific parcels. Each only produces a few barrels, and the resulting flavors are extremely clear, transparent, and unique to that parcel. This way of working allows each and every part of the farm to express itself through its unique voice. It draws us closer to the place. We give that up with this wine, but we gain other characteristics in return.

We have just 100 cases of this wine available; they represent a rare opportunity in a world where this style of wine is becoming both wildly expensive and harder to find.”

Grapes: over 50 different varieties

Vineyard: blend of all the sites that Hiyu farms

Making of: hand harvest, spontaneous fermentation. Aged for a minimum of three years in barrel, blended at bottling. Unfined, unfiltered, little to no sulfur addition.

Personality: “A different kind of complexity and textural depth result from the layering of the parcels. The wine still speaks with the voice of the Gorge, but that voice has more patina to its timbre. There are more layers, and the texture is more stylized. The end result feels like it’s from another age. This wine has most in common with pre-industrial Riojas and Brunellos, which were also often composites of many vineyards. This distinction is achieved by the combination of working by hand in the field and cellar while allowing the wines to evolve beyond fruit into deeper wood, earth, and spice flavors over time,” Nate says.


Smockshop Band Columbia Gorge White Wine “Spring Ephemeral” 

Nate on this wine: “This is our first wine from a site at 1400 feet on the west side of Underwood Mountain. The site was organically farmed prior to its purchase a few years ago and the farming is now regenerative with animal integration, minimal mowing, and a wide variety of plant life in different states of growth beneath the vines. It feels absolutely lovely to be in and close to the feeling we get when we’re working in our own vines.

“Underwood Mountain is an extinct shield volcano with South-facing slopes looking straight down on the Columbia. It’s “Big River” grape growing and as close to the feeling that one gets from being on the Rhine or the Mosel in North America. It’s also a very cold place to grow grapes (Albarino ripens in November here!) and given the proximity to Mt. Adams and Hood it feels very Alpine. At their best wines from here combine the attributes of wines from the Mosel with Alpine ones encountered in places like the Eisack Valley or Valle d’Aosta. To further complicate the puzzle of Germanic wine references, this is our attempt at a Gemischter Satz-esque wine; the blends of many varieties grown within the city limits of Vienna and served in traditional wine bars there.”

Grapes: Gruner Veltliner, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc

Place: site at 1400 feet ALS on the west side of Underwood Mountain, an extinct volcano.  The coldest part of the gorge with late harvests.

Making of: the grapes were picked together manually, spontaneously fermented on the skins whole cluster for ~2 weeks, pressed by foot in a wooden press back into a wooden tank to complete their fermentation “en cuve”, before barreling back down into smaller old casks to age. Bottled early, without sulfur, to capture as much energy and life as possible. Unfined, unfiltered.

Personality: “This wine captures all the referenced worlds. It glows and just alludes to orange. It tastes of melon, mirabelle, Sichuan pepper and green high mountain oolong. The presentation of these is extremely delicate, understated, precise and tea-like. Culture: A picnic with the cows in an alpine meadow.”

 


Smockshop Band Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge Red Wine

Vineyard: Oak Ridge, Elder, & Hiyu 

Grapes: Pinot Noir

Making of: This is a blend of eight barrels from all three of the parcels where we grow Pinot Noir: Oak Ridge, Elder, and Hiyu. It was fermented entirely with whole clusters in open top conical wood vats, tread by foot, pressed in a basket press, and aged for two years on the lees in old barriques. 

Personality: Strawberry brick in color, black raspberry, burnished leather, and flamboyant dark spices on the palate. “While other Pinot Noir based wines that we make tend to be made as ephemeral, delicate infusions, this is closer to a traditionally styled wine. This feels closest to a Gevrey-Chambertin from an old-fashioned producer like Alain Burguet or Joseph Roty. The wine is extremely dense and meaty without losing any sense of varietal purity. It speaks to one of our original questions: what would happen if the elder statesman of the winemaking world were to appear in the Hood River Valley to vinify and age a vintage. What
would be possible? What would it taste like? The wine is impossibly spicy. Culture: A glass shared in the shade of the barn after a morning in the fields.” 

 


Smockshop Band Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge White Wine “Spring Ephemeral” 

Nate on this wine: “Pinot Gris is a chameleon and more than almost any other variety is capable of wildly diverse expressions that are reflective of the people and place where it’s been grown. This wine passes in and out of all these worlds revealing different sides of itself in waves that come, recede and return again. 

At moments it presents itself like White Burgundy, reaching toward its genetic core and relation to Pinot Noir: dense, flinty-marzipan, a serious enclosure of all things mineral and savory. But then there is the color, the pastel stain from the copper skin and with this the wildness of a skin contact wine from Northeastern Italy; a nod to the flavors of the ancient world. Finally, there are wisps of Alsatian-esque exoticism that rise from the glass in the most unexpected moments. Haunting notes of candied fruits, spice and incense, flavors almost too intense for the modern world, but presented here in such an ethereal form as to be easier to digest.”

Grapes: Pinot Gris 

Place: site at 1200 feet ASL on two different parcels on a regenerative farm on Underwood Mountain, an extinct volcano. Facing South, it looks out upon both the Columbia River and Mt Hood.

Making of: the grapes were hand picked, macerated on the skins for four days in conical wooden vats, then pressed in a basket press directly to old barrels. Unfined, unfiltered, with no added sulfur. 

Personality: “Smoke and spice infused fruit from the Summer Orchard. As if standing at the precipice to portals: one leading to the mineral austerity of Burgundy, the other to the hedonism of Alsace, the other to the wildness of Northeastern Italy.” 

 


Hiyu 2021 Aesalon, Columbia Gorge White Wine

Vineyard: The parcel is in the far Southeast corner of the farm with an eastern exposure. We grafted it in 2016 from Pinot Gris to a field blend based on Spanish and Portuguese white varieties: Xarel-lo, Arinto, Verdehlo, Albarino, Trousseau Gris, Godello, Albillo Real and Macabeo. “This is the parcel where I feel most clearly the pulsing of energy that has emerged in the vineyard over
time,” says Nate, who adds that they spray teas in order to further draw out the aromas of the biodiverse vineyards. 

Grapes: Field blend of Spanish and Portuguese white varieties 

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested, then macerated in a wooden vat for five days before being pressed by
foot into old barrels. They remain in barrel to age for 20 months before bottling by hand.

Personality: “Somehow in this wine it is as if the scent of apricots passed through this living substrate, becoming
more intense through the passing and taken on all the other flavors of the landscape; the petals of chamomile, the wings of insects and the sweetness that can be found on a cow’s back. Culture: Hemingway is reading Lorca in a bar,” says Nate.