Joe Swick

Oregon Born and Raised 

Location: Newberg, Oregon, USA

Owner & winemaker: Joe Swick

Vineyard area: variable – the grapes are sourced from carefully selected growers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and neighboring Washington State Columbia Valley

Vineyard management: practicing or certified organic / biodynamic, depending on the source vineyard

Soils: sandy, loam, volcanic, alluvial, basalt, depending on the source vineyard

Main varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Grenache, and a vast array of other grapes

Annual production (approx.): 70,000 bottles

Winemaking: manual harvest, spontaneous fermentation only, no conventional additives, no fining, only modest amounts of SO2 on select wines when needed. Many of Joe’s wines are skin-contact; he’s also a keen maker of Piquette.

Fun facts:

  • Joe traveled the world making wine in places like Tasmania, France, Italy, or Portugal for 10 years. While living in France, he tasted his first natural wine – and fell in love with it.
  • His creed is making wine that’s “as naked and raw as possible while fun and delicious. Wine that tastes like wine, not kombucha”
  • A huge fan of pizza, Joe even made the ultimate pizza pairing wine called Foryer ‘Za
  • Besides pizza pies, Joe is also renowned for his love of dad jokes – he will not miss an opportunity for a pun or corny joke.
  • Joe’s sister Mariana makes soaps and sugar scrubs out of the lees of his wine.

 

Jump to wines | Swick Website

 

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Joe Swick got into the wine business working as a shipping/receiving clerk at a specialty organic food store in his hometown. Tasting different wines and getting to know various Oregonian winemakers was a great start, but Joe wanted to get his hands dirty too, which led him to work his first harvest as a cellar assistant in a local winery in 2003. Following this epiphany, Joe has traveled the globe for a decade during which he made some 15 harvests in places as far as Tasmania, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, or France, including some time with the legendary Simon Busser in Cahors or Julien Labet in Jura. 

After these ten years of intense globetrotting, Swick returned to the Pacific Northwest with loads of new experience and started his eponymous label in the Willamette Valley, knowing he wanted to do things the natural way: “When I was married, I spent a lot of time in France tasting. It was my first time being exposed to what they call vin nature – natural wines, and those were the ones that really spoke to me. So I thought that, with all my experience, I could take the risk. To make wine, which is as close to grapes as possible, while still tasting like wine,” he recalls in an interview.

Almost 10 years later, that’s still the case – the Swick philosophy is to make wines as naked and raw as possible while having them be fun and delicious, meaning that there are no conventional additives. But, if the wine benefits from a very small amount of SO2, so be it: “I’m not a fan of having to dump wines down the drain. If it means 10-20 ppm total SO2 added to a wine, I will do it. I prefer wine that tastes like wine, not kombucha,” Joe explains. Other than this security check, Swick’s wines are grapes-only and left to live in freedom: “No yeasts, no acid corrections, no temp control on the fermentor wines… Nothing is controlled. 100% of the stems are used in my red wines, which I work by foot 1-2 times a day.” 

Joe works with organically (or biodynamically, depending on the vineyard) farmed grapes from a changing selection of vineyards. What they all have in common is their location in the colder regions of Oregon and Washington State, as such sites allow him to make wines with acid, freshness, and lower ABV – “the wine that we love to drink,” Joe says. The Swick range sports historically farmed Oregon varieties such as Pinot Noir that he turns into a vast array of wines ranging from classical red to a very ethereal, blush Rosé of Pinot Noir or bubbles. 

On the more experimental side, Joe mixes things up with varieties such as Verdelho, Melon de Bourgogne, Touriga Nacional or various Rhone-Valley grapes like Grenache, Mourvedre, Marsanne, Roussanne. There’s a fair amount of amber wines ranging from Pinot Gris to Sémillon and Sauv Blanc, macerated usually for about 30 days as Joe believes this length of the skin-contact phase to be the sweet spot between tannins and freshness: “In my experience, after two weeks, the tannins tend to get a bit aggressive and astringent, but after another two weeks they soften and gain in body and balance out the acidity,” he explains.

Another strong suit for Swick is light reds with a tang and license to chill, sometimes produced as red-white grape co-ferments, sometimes as short-maceration; it’s no accident that one of Swick’s wines, showing his love for both this category and puns, is called Shill-Ah-Blay. Plus the super popular pet-nats and recently also Piquettes, Joe’s take on this fun “up-cycling” low-ABV beverage that is enjoying a renaissance (thanks in big part to our NY-state partner WildArc Farm). 

Quite a rainbow thanks to this diversity of terroirs and grapes! Colorful as they are (Joe’s obsession with lava lamps comes to mind), the Swick wines all share their signature subtle fruit and freshness. Always more mineral than jammy, structured rather than overpowering. Different from your regular Oregon wine programming, but definitely painting a compelling picture of their Pacific Northwestern home. 

 

Wines

Blanc de Noir Cancilla Vineyard — Back to the top

Blanc de Noir Cancilla Vineyard tech sheet

Total Production: 1400 bottles

Appellation: Willamette Valley

Age of Vines: 18 years

Yields: 5 tons per hectare

Altitude: 700 feet

Soil: Sedimentary transitioning into Volcanic

Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The skins are never in contact with the juice, and the wine ferments in 228-liter 4-6-year-old barrels with indigenous yeast. The wine rests in the same barrels for 6 months of elevage, with one racking before bottling and no battonage. The wine is unfiltered and lightly sulfured before bottling.


Verdelho Columbia Valley — Back to the top 

Verdelho Columbia Valley tech sheet

This wine is made from the Douro version of this grape variety (not the Madeiran Verdelho). Also known as Gouveio in the Douro Valley and Godello in Spain.

Total Production: 1600 bottles

Appellation: Columbia Valley Washington (Yakima Valley)

Age of Vines: 13 years

Soil: Loam

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The wine ferments in 228 and 500 liter 2-4-year-old barrels with indigenous yeast. The wine rests in the same barrels for 6 months of elevage, with one racking before bottling and no battonage. The wine is unfiltered and lightly sulfured before bottling.


Cancilla Vineyard “Hibernation” Pinot Noir — Back to the top 

Cancilla Vineyard “Hibernation” Pinot Noir tech sheet

Total Production: 840 bottles 

Appellation: Willamette Valley

Age of Vines: 18 years

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Soil: Sedimentary transitioning into Volcanic

Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand harvested, and the whole bunches are sealed inside a concrete egg for 6 months of fermentation. The whole bunches rests in the egg with no pigeage or pumping over. The intact berries are then pressed and combined back into the egg with the free-run juice for 4 further months of elevage. The wine is unfiltered, unfined, and has zero sulfur added.  


Melon de Bourgogne — Back to the top 

Melon de Bourgogne tech sheet

The idea behind this wine is not to imitate the Muscadet style but to make a wine from Oregon, made by an Oregonian, with a grape that happens to be Melon. The soils of Oregon are completely different, hence Joe wasn’t trying to make it anything like a Muscadet.

Total Production: 1000 bottles

Appellation: Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Willamette Valley

Age of Vines: 15 years

Soil: Sandy Loam

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The wine ferments in 228-liter 8-year-old barrels with indigenous yeast for about 1 month. The wine rests in the same barrels for 6 months of elevage, with one racking before bottling and no battonage. The wine is unfiltered and lightly sulfured before bottling.


Cancilla Vineyard “Ken’s Pom” Pinot Noir — Back to the top

Cancilla Vineyard “Ken’s Pom” Pinot Noir tech sheet

Total Production: 400 bottles 

Yield: 5 tons per hectare

Appellation: Columbia Valley Washington (Yakima Valley)

Age of Vines: 18 years

Soil: Sandy into Volcanic

Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and whole bunches ferment semi-carbonically in plastic microbins for about 1 month with indigenous yeast and occasional pigeage. The wine goes into 500-liter 5-year-old barrels for about 11 months of elevage. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration and has zero sulfur added.


Verdelho Petillant Naturel — Back to the top

Total Production: 700 bottles 

Appellation: Columbia Valley Washington (Yakima Valley)

Age of Vines: 13 years

Soil: Sandy Loam

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The wine ferments in 228-liter 6-year-old barrels with indigenous yeast for about 2 weeks. The wine is bottled with a small amount of residual sugar remaining and finishes fermenting in bottle with zero filtration and zero sulfur added. The bottles are hand-disgorged and then recapped. 


Rose of Pinot Noir Petillant Naturel — Back to the top

Rose of Pinot Noir Petillant Naturel tech sheet

Total Production: 400 bottles 

Appellation: Willamette Valley

Age of Vines: 18 years

Soil: Sandy into Volcanic

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The wine ferments in 228-liter 6-year-old barrels with indigenous yeast for about 3 weeks. The wine is bottled with a small amount of residual sugar remaining and finishes fermenting in bottle with zero filtration and zero sulfur added. The bottles are hand-disgorged and then recapped. 


Grenache Blanc — Back to the top

Grenache Blanc tech sheet

Total Production: 1400 bottles

Appellation: Columbia Valley Washington (Yakima Valley)

Age of Vines: 13 years

Soil: Sandy Loam

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The wine ferments in 228-liter and 50-liter 2-4 year old barrels with indigenous yeast for about 4 weeks with about 24 hours in contact with the skins. The wine rests in the same barrels for 6 months of elevage, with one racking before bottling and no battonage. The wine is unfiltered and has zero sulfur added.


Willamette Pinot Noir — Back to the top

Total Production: 4800 bottles

Appellation: Willamette Valley (54% Cancilla Vineyard (NW Willamette Valley) and 46% Silvershot Vineyard (Eola-Amity AVA)

Age of Vines: 13 years

Soil: Mixed Basalt and Sedimentary

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and whole bunches ferment semi-carbonically in 500-liter barrels with indigenous yeast and pigeage one to two times a day. The wine goes into 500-liter 5-year-old barrels for about 10 months of elevage. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration and has a small addition of sulfur.


Pinot Noir Rosé — Back to the top

Grape: Pinot Noir (Pommard clone)

Vineyard:  Alluvial and Basalt in Willamette Valley. Cancilla Vineyard (planted 1999-2005, organic since 2009) and Greyhorse Vineyard (organic, planted in 1998)

Making of: Direct pressed. Fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels for 6 months before bottling. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered with a small addition of sulfur.

Personality: “The 2020 is without a doubt one of the most acid-driven rosés we ever made. Also my personal fav.” Joe Swick, creator


Columbia Valley Mourvedre — Back to the top

Appellation: Columbia ValleyTotal Production: 1800 bottles

Elevation: 1650 feet

Age of Vines: 20 years

Soil: Sandy/Loam

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand harvested and whole bunches ferment semi-carbonically in 500 liter barrels with indigenous yeast and  pigeage one to two times a day. The skins macerate for about 30 days before pressing. The wine goes into 500-liter 5-year-old barrels for about 9 months of elevage. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration and has a small addition of sulfur.


Sec Siemefe Touriga Nacional — Back to the top

Appellation: Columbia ValleyTotal Production: 840 bottlesSoil: Alluvial Age of Vines: 20 years

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and whole bunches ferment semi-carbonically in 500-liter barrels with indigenous yeast and pigeage one to two times a day. The skins macerate for about 30 days before pressing. The wine goes into 228-liter 5-year-old barrels for about 11 months of elevage. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration and has zero sulfur added.


Cancilla Vineyard Sans Soufre Pinot Noir — Back to the top

Total Production: 1056 bottles

Appellation: Willamette Valley

Age of Vines: 20 years

Soil: Alluvial and Basalt

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand harvested and whole bunches ferment semi-carbonically in 500 liter barrels with indigenous yeast and  pigeage one to two times a day. The skins macerate for about 30 days before pressing. The wine goes into 500-liter 5-year-old barrels for about 12 months of elevage. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration and has zero addition of sulfur.


Ellaguru — Back to the top

Total Production: 150 cases

Age of Vines: 20 years

Soil: Alluvial

Varieties: 50% Melon from Oregon, 50% Counoise from Washington

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Vinification Method: The two vineyards are hand-harvested on the same day and are co-fermented and ferment as whole bunches. The bunches are foot tread and the skins macerate for about 30 days in 228 liter used wooden barrels before pressing. The wine spends about 6 months in elevage and is bottled with a small addition of sulfur.


Only Zuul — Back to the top

Grapes: 50% Pinot Gris, 50% Gewurtztraminer

Vineyard: Pinot Gris from the Naches Heights AVA of the Columbia Valley. Yakima, Washington. Gewurztraminer from Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley. Salem, Oregon. 

Vinification Method: The two vineyards are hand-harvested and fermented separately as whole bunches, for about 30 days. Foot stomped 1-2 times daily. The wine spends about 6 months in elevage and is then blended and bottled with a small addition of sulfur.


Roussanne — Back to the top

Total Production: 23 cases

Age of Vines: 20 years

Soil: Alluvial

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The wine ferments in 228-liter 8-year-old barrels with indigenous yeast for about 1 month. The wine rests in the same barrels for 6 months of elevage, with one racking before bottling and no battonage. The wine is unfiltered and lightly sulfured before bottling.


Marsanne — Back to the top

Total Production: 150 cases 

Age of Vines: 20 years

Soil: Sedimentary

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The wine ferments in 228 and 500-liter 8-year-old barrels with indigenous yeast for about 1 month. The wine rests in the same barrels for 6 months of elevage, with one racking before bottling and no battonage. The wine is unfiltered and lightly sulfured before bottling.

Personality: salt, lime, grapefruit.


Chenin Blanc — Back to the top

Soil: Sedimentary

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and immediately pressed as whole bunches. The wine ferments in 228 and 500-liter 8-year-old barrels with indigenous yeast for about 1 month. The skins remain in contact with the juice for one week, after which they are pressed. The wine rests in the same barrels for 6 months of elevage, with one racking before bottling and no batonnage. The wine is unfiltered and lightly sulfured before bottling.


Wyd? U up? — Back to the top 

Total Production: 125 cases

Age of Vines: 20 years

Varieties: Willamette Valley Chardonnay

Soil: Sandy Loam

Yield: 2 tons per acre

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The wine ferments in  500-liter neutral oak barrels with indigenous yeast for about 1 month and then rests in barrels for 8 months of elevage. Unfiltered and lightly sulfured before bottling.


City Pop Pet-Nat — Back to the top 

swick__citypopCity Pop is a genre of music, born in Japan in the late 1970s & 80s.

Total Production: 200 cases

Grapes: Pinot Noir, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Roussanne

Vineyard: sandy loam. The Pinot Noir grows in the Willamette Valley at 600 feet of altitude, the remaining grapes are from the Columbia Valley at 1,600 feet elevation. 

Cellar: Pinot Noir was direct-pressed and fermented separately. Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Roussanne fermented separately with 14 days of skin maceration, with the ferments gently worked by foot 1-2 times a day. No temperature control, native yeast only. Bottled in November to finish fermentation in bottles. No fining, no filtration, a small addition of sulfur at disgorgement.


Swick Piquette 1.0Piquette 1.0 – 4.0 — Back to the top 
 

Grapes:

Piquette 1.0 = 50% Verdelho, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon from Columbia Valley (the blend used for City Pop)

Piquette 2.0 = Gamay Noir Willamette Valley

Piquette 3.0 = Cinsault Columbia Valley

Piquette 4.0 = skin-contact Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley

Cellar: After pressing the grapes for the given wine, the leftover skins were rehydrated with water, which brings out any sugars left in the pomace. After letting them soak a bit, the rehydrated pomace is pressed again for a second time and treated just like a pet-nat. The juice is bottled at about zero Brix and 7.5% to 8% ABV. Fermentation finishes in the bottle.

Personality: “Very smashable.” Joe Swick, the creator.


Gamay Noir Pet-Nat — Back to the top

Grape: Gamay Noir

Total Production: 30 cases

Vineyard: Willamette Valley

Cellar: the grapes are pressed and fermented with no temperature control and native yeast only. Bottled in November to finish fermentation in bottles. No fining, no filtration, a small addition of sulfur at disgorgement.


Pet-Natch — Back to the top 

Grapes: 50% Graciano, 25% Cinsault, 25% Pinot Gris

Vineyard: Columbia Valley

Total Production: 30 cases

Cellar: the grapes are pressed and fermented with no temperature control and native yeast only. Bottled in November to finish fermentation in bottles. No fining, no filtration, a small addition of sulfur at disgorgement.


Albariño — Back to the top

Grapes: Albariño

Vineyard: Naches Heights AVA, Yakima Washington. 

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The wine ferments on skins for 30 days. Foot stomped 1-2 times daily. Gently pressed and then rests until spring. Bottled unfiltered, lightly sulfured.

Personality: “Pair with tapas.” Joe Swick, creator


Sémillon Skin Contact — Back to the top 

Grapes: Sémillon

Vineyard: Konnowac Vineyard. NW Yakima, Washington.

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The wine ferments on skins for 30 days, foot stomped 1-2 times daily. Gently pressed and then rests until spring. Bottled unfiltered, lightly sulfured.

Personality: “Geek out with this one.” Joe Swick, creator


What are we? — Back to the top

Label artwork by Cerise Zelenetz

Grapes: Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, roughly equal parts of each

Vineyard: Conley Vineyard in Yakima, Washington. 1700 feet elevation. Sandy soils. Certified organic.

Making of: the grapes are vinified separately. Marsanne and Grenache Blanc are both direct-pressed white wines. The Grenache Noir spends 30 days on skins, whole cluster maceration. Foot stomped 1-2 times daily. The wines are then aged in neutral French oak for 8 months. Blended and lightly sulfured at bottling, no fining or filtration.

Personality: fresh & chillable red-white coferment, showing the beautiful spiciness and flinty iron of the Southern-Rhone-valley grape trio used. Grapefruit, citrus, mineral note, best served slightly chilled.

 


Pinot Gris Skin Contact Willamette Valley — Back to the top

Grapes: Pinot Gris

Vineyards: Merten Vineyard in the Washington County AVA, practicing organic. A new AVA that has some of the higher and colder sites in the Willamette Valley, located at its northern end. 

Making of: 30 days of whole-cluster maceration on skins. Foot stomped 1-2 times daily, then 7 months in neutral French oak.
Lightly sulfured at bottling, no fining.

Personality: “Nose of sour cherry, blood orange, a little bit of flintiness, the palate is medium-bodied, and a lot like a Tavel,” says Joe himself. For those who don’t like Pinot Grigio but might enjoy a very macerated Pinot Gris…


Cinq à Six — Back to the top

Grapes: 100% Malbec

Vineyard: Conley Vineyard, Yakima, Washington. 1700 feet elevation. Sandy soils. Certified organic.

Making of: 5-6 hours of skin maceration before a very gentle press. Then fermented and aged in neutral French oak for 8 months. Lightly sulfured at bottling, no fining or filtration.

Personality: very chillable and fun. It’s herbaceous on the nose with anise notes, black pepper, fresh raspberry and dried cherry in the mouth. Thanks to the very short skin contact, this rosé/red surprising incarnation of Malbec is light and drinks wonderfully, and not just between 5 and 6.


Sauvignon Blanc Skin Contact — Back to the top

Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Vineyard: Konnowac Vineyard, Yakima, Washington. 1100 feet of altitude. In conversion to organic farming

Making of:  the grapes spent 30 days on skins. Foot stomped 1-2 times per day. Aged in neutral French oak for 7 months. Lightly sulfured at bottling, no fining or filtration.

Personality: Salty, peach and nectarine pit, citrus, fresh and firm.

 


Palhete — Back to the top

Grapes: 90% Verdelho, 10% Graciano

Vineyard: Sonrisa Vineyard in Zillah, Washington. Practicing organic

Making of: The grapes are vinified separately. First, they spend 30 days on skins, then aged in neutral French oak for 8 months. Blended and lightly sulfured at bottling, no fining or filtration.

Personality: Joe on this wine: “Palhete is a type of wine I learned about when working in Portugal – red and white grapes blended into an easygoing, fresh and smashable light red wine. Breakfast wine?!”


P-Chill Willamette Valley — Back to the top 

Grapes: 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Pinot Gris

Vineyards: the Pinot Noir is from Cancilla Vineyard in Gaston, Oregon. Pommard clone, own-rooted. Certified Organic. The Pinot Gris is from Finnigan Hill Vineyard. Certified organic. Chehalem Mountains AVA.

Making of: the Pinot noir spends 30 days on skins as whole clusters, the Pinot Gris is direct-press. The wines then ferment and age in a mix of neutral French oak and stainless steel drums. Blended and lightly sulfured at bottling, no fining.

Personality: This is strawberries and cream, easy-drinking and best served chilled.