Big Table Farm Winery – Portland – What Wine Tasting Should Be Like

4 Jun

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Big Table Farm was one of my favorite winery visits of all time. A tiny operation in Willamette Valley, it’s the work of a husband-wife team who run it as an honest-to-goodness working farm. Oh, and they make some pretty good wine, too.

Big Table Farm has been getting a lot of good press lately, gathering a bunch of lofty scores from the various wine press sources. Brian, the winemaker, has worked at cult-favorite Marcassin, and one of my favorites, Neyers. Learning the ropes at some top-flight California wineries, he and Clare found a spot in Oregon to plant vines, raise some animals, and create a pretty sweet picture of idyllic agrarian life.

They are appointment-only, of course, as their place is a bit off the beaten path in the outskirts of the town of Graton, OR. The tasting is done in their house, just off the kitchen. Brian walked us through their spring releases: a rose, an interesting Austrian edelzwicker, two pinots, and a Syrah. They have planted vines, but won’t have their own harvest for a couple more years. So they are sourcing grapes from other vineyards, many of them within a couple miles of the winery (except the Syrah comes from California fruit, I think).

The beautiful labels are the work of Clare, who draws items from the farm for each label. Prints of the labels may be for sale if you ask nicely.

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The wine was very nice. The wines are not messed with much, so they are unfined and unfiltered. The rose was a stunner, lovely and dry, with a nice kiss of fruit. The pinots were both beautiful, with a nice blend of fruit and earth. With some time, the fruit should mellow out and make this a fascinating wine in a couple years.

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Brian also took the time to walk us around the farm a bit. The horses aren’t for show — they really use them to plow the fields. They have a friendly goat that wanders around and will nuzzle up to you.

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They also have these adorable pigs that they raise for food. They are present when the pigs are slaughtered, and then trade some of the meat with their neighbors. I think they named these two good ol’ boys, Bo and Luke.

Overall, BTF was one of the main highlights of our PDX trip. Brian and Clare are a hardworking couple who are probably smarter than all of us in that they have chosen a life of honest work in a beautiful place making a great product that I will gladly buy with my filthy lucre. It’s the Portlandia ideal, which I felt like I got to experience for a moment — much more than I did at some of the mammoth commercial wineries in the area.

This might be a snapshot in time. It’s also obvious that BTF is headed for bigger things. The wine press has been effusive about their wines, and so you can imagine their operation growing significantly in the next few years. They will also start switching over to wines made with their own grapes in a few years, which is a factor that is hard to guess how it will affect the wines. In any case, I was so glad to get to experience BTF when I did, and will look forward to revisiting them again next time I’m in the Willamette Valley.

Big Table Farm
26851 NW Williams Canyon Rd
Gaston, Oregon 97119
503.662.3129
clare@bigtablefarm.com

** The WordPress app ONCE AGAIN deleted an earlier version of this post. I hate you, WordPress app.

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