Iris Wins Accolades at San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition January 14 2019
It’s been a nice couple of months here at Iris Vineyards. It’s a privilege to make wine for people who love what we do, but it’s especially sweet to earn outside recognition and validation.
With that in mind, it’s our pleasure to announce that Iris Vineyards won seven medals at The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, which is the largest competition for North American wines.
Wowzer, It's Sauser! October 04 2018
Harvest 2018 is in full swing, and we’re excited to offer a delicious sampling of this year’s vintage. Available only one week after the grapes have been harvested, Sauser (or “New Wine”) has become an annual tradition at Iris, popular among our staff and visitors alike! As fermentation begins quickly after processing the grapes, this delicious, slightly sweet, and somewhat carbonated style of wine will be available on weekends throughout the harvest season in our tasting room. With a range of 5-9% ABV, these refreshing wines will provide you with a unique tasting experience, often limited to winemakers and their teams only. Stop by any weekend during harvest to have a taste of vintage 2018, and stay tuned to our social channels for updates!
Summer in the Cellar July 30 2018Trellis Club Members are cordially invited to Iris' annual summer party for our wine club members! Save the date - Saturday, August 18th, from 7pm-9:30pm.
Vine to Wine Winter Update December 13 2017
As we approach the winter solstice, the vineyard is in its state of winter dormancy, safe and sound from the chilly temperatures that we have been enduring. Following this year's bountiful harvest, we were fortunate to have several weeks of weather that was free of sub-freezing temperatures. This period in late October allowed the leaves on the vines to gradually turn color and fall to the ground. During this time, the vines draw carbohydrates back into the trunk and roots where they will fuel vine growth when the buds emerge in the spring. The leaves decompose where they fall, recycling nutrients and organic matter through the soil.
Once dormant, the vines are safe from most cold temperatures that we experience in the Willamette Valley. The Burgundian varietals we farm are safe until the temperature falls below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Should we experience a cold event like this, some of the dormant buds may be damaged. Were this to happen, our vineyard manager would dissect a number of buds to access the damage; we then would adjust our pruning strategy to compensate. The wind machines that we use for frost protection during the growing season are not useful in severe winter cold events when there is simply no warmer air for them to stir around.
At this point in the season, our vineyard staff is working on planning for the next season, taking care of a variety of maintenance and repair projects on our machinery and around the estate, and enjoying some vacation. At the end of the month we will begin to prune the vines for next season. This task keeps us busy into March. Winter is a beautiful time to visit the vineyard, despite the chilly temperatures. We hope to see you soon!
Vine to Wine Update – Summer Arrives! June 19 2017
The vine we are following this year is growing at an amazing pace during these sunny days after the recent rainfall. Our vineyard crew is hard at work raising the movable catch wires on the trellis to keep the new shoots contained and growing directly upwards in our Vertical Shoot Positioned trellis. They also spend time tucking stray shoots into the trellis wires. This allows the leaves and fruit to receive good exposure to sunlight and airflow. Last week, the crew made a pass through the vineyard to remove the suckers (unwanted shoots) growing at the base of the vine.
This time of the season is critical for disease prevention. Before and during bloom time, the vine is most susceptible to powdery mildew. Mildew on the flower structures can ruin the season’s crop. Late in the bloom stage is a key time for botrytis control as well. The dead flower particles that remain trapped in the clusters can serve as a source of disease inoculum during ripening. For these reasons, the intervals between our fungicide sprays are short at present and the timing of these sprays is very important. The vineyard crew is also busy keeping up with mowing, spot control of weeds and keeping our newly planted vines irrigated.
The vines are showing the first signs of bloom today (less than 5% at present). Based on the timing of bud break and bloom, this is shaping up to be a very “average” growing season after 3 consecutive warmer and earlier than average seasons. Later in the week, when bloom is more widespread, our vineyard manager will bring some shoots into the TR so that guests can see how the grapes look when flowering. Grapes are self-pollinating; thus, they are not dependent on bees for pollination. The pollen has to move a very short distance on the flower structure, and this happens through gravity and the breeze blowing across the flowers. Cool, and especially wet, weather during bloom can have a negative impact on pollination and fruit set. This week looks like perfect weather, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it remains that way!
Now is a great time to visit the vineyard as the vines are changing rapidly, the grass is still green, and the air is perfectly clear across the Coast Range foothills. We hope to see you soon!
Vine to Wine April 11 2017
We’ve been following this vine in our C Block of Pinot noir grapes since the beginning of the year. We’ve finished pruning and anticipate bud break later this month. Before bud break starts, we’d like to explore the soil type that supports this vine.
Notice the rocks on the soil surface at the base of the vine. They provide a perfect illustration of the parent material of the soil. The soil type of our vine (and most of our vineyard) is Bellpine - classified as a silty, clay loam. It is composed of weathered sedimentary rock and has components of weathered basalt, as well. You can see both the darker, denser basaltic rocks and the lighter, more weathered and crumbly sedimentary rocks on the soil surface. Its components enable it to hold moisture well, thus the rainfall and moisture of the rainy season is stored in the soil throughout the summer months which allows our vines to grow without irrigation. It is a relatively well drained and moderately fertile soil type that occurs on the Willamette Valley foothills. The iron component of the soil gives it a red hue. You’ll find other types of soil in the vineyard, as well. Small areas of our vineyard are planted on Jory soil, which has a similar composition but a greater depth. Areas of our Pinot Gris are planted on Dupee soil, a related class of soils.
It is also important to note that soil is much more than its mineral and physical components. It is the symbiosis of rocks, minerals, different plant species, organic matter, earthworms, bacteria, fungi, small animals, microorganisms, and small spaces filled with air. All these factors interact and must have a healthy environment in which to grow unique and complex wines. In future posts, we’ll explore the affect the soil type has on the taste of the wine. Until then, cheers!
Winter Weather Impact at Iris January 19 2017
As the thaw continues here in the Southern Willamette Valley, we here at Iris would like to share some winter scenes and news from our vineyard.
The ice storm in mid-December left us with many trees and limbs to remove from our roadway. Thanks to our hardworking vineyard staff, we were able to open the road and tasting room quickly following. Our crew is continuing to make repairs to the deer fence surrounding the fields. It saw much damage from fallen trees and limbs. The vineyard itself weathered the ice storm without problem. The unpruned vines did not break under the weight of the ice as they are well supported by our high- tensile trellis. The trellis is designed to carry a heavy load. It must support the vines’ canopy of leaves in the summer breezes as well as the weight of multiple tons per acre of grapes.
We experienced some lower than average temperatures in the past week. The Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris vines we farm are dormant for the winter season. While dormant, they are not damaged by cold until temperatures fall below 5 degrees. We believe that we are safe thus far. In the next week, our vineyard manager will spend time in the field, dissecting dormant buds to double check that they are alive and ready for the 2017 vintage. If we discover some spotty damage, we will adjust our pruning strategy to compensate.
Our vineyard crew is getting started pruning the vineyard. We will be working on this important and labor intensive job until March. Stay tuned for more.
Thank you to our patient tasting room customers for your understanding as we have been forced to close a number of days recently. The roads out to the vineyard and our driveway had been unsafe for our staff and customers to make it out to Lorane, but we are happy that safe access has been restored. We all are keeping our fingers crossed that this Oregon rain continues to fall in liquid form!
Riddling Sparkling Rose' January 10 2017
We have a very special upcoming release at Iris: Sparkling Rose’! In order to bring this limited-edition release to you, this wine is currently in the riddling stage of sparkling winemaking.
Over the course of the riddling stage, the dead yeast cells and other sediment formed as a by-product from the fermentation stage collects in the neck of each bottle. The goal is to achieve a crystal-clear wine. Not only does the riddling process remove the sediment from the wine, but it also helps create its unique texture and complex bouquet. The longer the wine sits in the riddling stage, the more complex and bubbly it becomes.What is riddling? Riddling is an age-old technique that involves rotating tilted bottles to remove sediment created from the fermentation stage. During this stage, the bottles are placed on a riddling rack with their necks down and gradually rotated in 1/8 to ¼ turn increments, both clockwise and counterclockwise. The average riddling process consists of about 25 turns over 4-6 weeks while the steepness of each inverted bottle increases from 45 degrees to 60.
After the riddling process, the sediment must be disgorged from the bottles. To do this, each bottle is placed in a sub-zero solution for a few minutes to form an ice plug made of the sediment deposits in the neck. The cap is then removed and the pressure within the bottle shoots out the ice plug with the frozen sediment trapped inside it.
Stay tued for the release date of this very special varietal (an Iris first!), and follow its process on our social media channels!
Iris' Annual Chestnut Roasting October 25 2016
We're pleased to bring back this popular autumn event for Thanksgiving weekend. Take in sweeping views of the Lorane Valley while savoring freshly roasted chestnuts from our own orchard. An award winning Iris wine will be paired for your enjoyment. We'll have bundles of chestnuts, recipes, and wine specials available all weekend. We'll be roasting chestnuts on our patio from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 25-27. We hope you'll join us!
Autumn Vineyard Update October 19 2016
Fall is a time of transition at the vineyard: harvest has ended and the leaves are beginning to turn. We were fortunate to harvest all of the grapes prior to the first storm of the season! The vineyard team has been completing some post harvest activities, including fertilizing, planting cover crop, as well as cleaning, repairing, and storing equipment. Fall color is just beginning, and temperatures have been warmer than usual causing the change in color to come slowly. The warm temperatures mean that the vines are getting some good post harvest growing time to recharge for future vintages. Below are some photos of the vineyard this fall season. Cheers to vintage 2016!
2016 Harvest September 29 2016
Harvest 2016 is in full swing at Iris! The grapes are beautiful, and we're excited to start fermentation. Below are some photos from this year's harvest.
Summer at Iris June 15 2016
Summer has arrived, and it's already a busy time at Iris. We have longer hours, new events, and a host of musicians planned for the summer season. The beauty of the vineyard is stunning this time of year and there's no better place to enjoy a crisp glass of Willamette Valley Chardonnay, Oregon Pinot Gris, or Pinot Noir Rosé than on our patio during these warmer months. Beginning June 16th, our Estate Tasting Room will now be open seven days a week, and we are thrilled to offer our guests more days to enjoy our wine and the view. Of course, picnics are always encouraged on our patio! Our new hours are Saturday - Thursday: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM and Friday: 12:00 PM - 9:00 PM.
We're also excited to announce a new concert series on Friday nights throughout the summer. Evenings at Iris will feature local and regional musicians from 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM each Friday night on our patio - a perfect way to end your week! Enjoy Iris’ award winning wine, beer from Plank Town Brewing, and food offerings from local companies such as Fern’s Edge Creamery, Jacob's Creamery, Creswell Bakery, and Mt. Townsend Creamery. Picnics are encouraged while you sit on the patio, sip some wine, and enjoy the music. Musical guests will include LeMaster & Abrams (pictured right), Jesse Meade, Mike Brewer & the Brewketts, and many more! You can see the full lineup on our events page.
In addition to Evenings at Iris, we'll also have J. Scott Cellars pouring wine at our tasting room on July 23rd, and we'll host our Trellis Club Members for our annual Tiki Party on August 6th. This tropical event is perfect for summer, with excellent food and music at this poolside party hosted by our owners, Pamela Frye and Richard Boyles. While the Tiki Party is only for Trellis Club members, there is still plenty of time to join! Finally, we'll be at Eugene's Alton Baker Park from noon until seven on Saturday, August 13th, pouring wine at the 24th Annual Eugene/Springfield PRIDE Festival.
There are still other events in the planning stages, and we'll make sure to keep you posted as they are announced. If you visit Iris by June 30th, mention this post to receive a complimentary tasting. We hope to see you at one or all of these exciting events - Cheers!
C Block Party at Iris June 08 2016In celebration of one of our finest Pinot Noirs, Iris is throwing a block party - a C Block Party! The festivities will start at 3:00 PM on Saturday, June 11th. Musical guests Satori Bob will be on-hand, and Sheild Catering will be serving delicious, locally sourced food. We'll be offering a first taste of our 2015 C Block Pinot Noir, and drawing for raffle prizes will happen throughout the event! Tickets are $12 and include a glass of the '15 C Block Pinot Noir, food, live music, and a raffle of great prizes! They can be purchased by contacting Amanda, our Tasting Room Manager, via e-mail or by calling (541) 242-6588. Trellis Club Members receive free entry. The C block of pinot noir grapes at Iris' Chalice Vineyard (pictured above) produces the highest quality Pinot Noir at the vineyard, and others seem to agree! This single vineyard varietal was rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast for our '14 vintage. We hope you'll join us for this one-of-a-kind event!
Spring Vineyard Update March 15 2016
Spring has arrived at Iris! While the wild iris isn’t quite blooming, Arpad and the vineyard crew are busy completing essential tasks in preparation for vintage 2016. Pruning is almost complete; a project that was started last December. This job is vital to producing the grapes needed to make outstanding Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. Proper pruning maintains the structure of the vine and allows us to regulate our crop based on the number of buds we leave. Below are some photos of the work being complete:
Vine prunings in the vineyard row - before mulching:
Vine prunings in the vineyard row - after mulching:
Post pruning - the vines' canes are tied down. Bud break is almost here!
We're planting new vines this year, and the project is starting to take shape. We'll be planting vines as soon as the soil dries enough for us to do so:
We'll have another update after bud break, including more info on the new vines we're planting this year. If you'd like to see this year's progress for yourself, we'd love to host you! Our tasting room is open on Thursday from noon until five, and Friday - Sunday from noon until six. Until then, cheers!
Oregon Truffle Experience with Chef Brian Parks February 05 2016
Winter may be chilly, and the sunshine may be sparse, but there is something that makes this season great: Oregon-Grown Truffles!
Join us for an evening of full truffle immersion - Chef Parks will demonstrate truffle cooking techniques and infusions, followed by a meal to truly captivate the senses. The perfect complement? Iris wine of course!
Oregon Truffle Experience
Includes Light Appetizers, Dinner, Dessert, & a Glass of Iris Wine
Sunday, February 21st
6:30 PM at the Iris Tasting Room
82110 Territorial Highway, Eugene, OR, 97405
$65 per person
$50 per person for Trellis Club Members
This is a private dining experience with 20 seats available. Please contact our tasting room manager, Amanda, at email@example.com to reserve your place, or call us at (541) 242-6588
About Chef Parks: Brian helped open Magenta Restaurant in Corvallis and was the chef at Luc for two years. He is the founder and co-owner of Fraser Creek Farm in Corvallis. They specialize in breeding Maran Chickens and also grow a large variety of citrus in their greenhouse that is sold in area farmer's markets and restaurants. Chef Parks is currently working on a new venture that he hopes to announce in coming weeks.
Iris, Truffles, and the Oregon Truffle Festival January 19 2016
It’s been an exciting year in Oregon’s truffle world, and the year is only just beginning! An Oregon grown, black French truffle was served in a Eugene restaurant, Grit; a true first for the state, and an important step for Oregon’s burgeoning truffle cultivators. This weekend marks another first: the debut of the Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship as the opening event of the Oregon Truffle Festival. Our general manager, Don Wackerly’s, own pup Roscoe (pictured left) will be competing in this exciting event, and we’re excited to cheer this fixture at the winery and tasting room on this weekend. There are still tickets available if you’d like to join us! The Oregon Truffle Festival continues in Eugene starting January 29th, with events all weekend. Iris is pleased to once again be a sponsor of this unique to Oregon event! We will be tasting several wines at the Eugene Fresh Truffle Marketplace at the Eugene Hilton on Sunday, January 31st.
Iris’ support of this one of a kind event is a result of our commitment to the best: spectacular food, outstanding wine, and our beautiful home state of Oregon. The estate surrounding our vineyard is an ideal location for hunting Oregon truffles given the numerous stands of Douglas fir found in various locations around the property. In addition to Roscoe’s training, Richard, one of our owners, has hunted truffles on the estate in years past with varying degrees of success (pictured at right). We’re fortunate to have such a distinctive event in our backyard, and we are pleased to be able to support the Oregon Truffle Festival in its eleventh year.
We will keep the truffle momentum going into February with our own Truffle Demonstration Dinner at our estate tasting room. A guest chef will join us for this exclusive event, with seating limited to 20 participants. The chef will demonstrate proper cooking methods for truffles, and the event will conclude with dinner paired with Iris wine. If you are interested in this event, please contact Amanda Littmann, our tasting room manager, via e-mail or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org; (541) 242-6588. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating all things truffle at one or all of these events!
Iris Inspiration for your Thanksgiving Dinner November 17 2015
Thanksgiving is almost here! What better way to celebrate the holiday than pairing your meal with some outstanding wine? Our winemaker, Aaron Lieberman, has some suggestions if you’d like to know which of your Iris favorites will work well with your Thanksgiving spread.
Aaron: My experience is that Thanksgiving meals are typically fairly heavy and strongly flavored. I usually recommend a Syrah if only one wine will be served. Our 2012 Oregon Syrah will work perfectly for the occasion. If you are concerned about spending a lot of money on a big group of wine drinkers, the Red ONE could be a good option as it’s a Syrah blend. If you’d really like to impress your family and friends, our newly released C Block Pinot Noir is an outstanding wine that is sure to delight. For white wine drinkers I'd have to recommend our Chardonnay as it will pair nicely with turkey, gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, and other such things. Of course, the After Dinner Chardonnay would be a lovely compliment to pumpkin or apple pie!
The wines above can be purchased by visiting our online store. There’s still time to have them shipped before Thanksgiving! You’ll have to visit our Tasting Room, though, in order to taste and purchase the newly release 2014 C Block Pinot Noir and 2014 Oregon Chardonnay. Cheers to a Happy Thanksgiving!
Harvest 2015 Comes to a Close October 12 2015
Harvest has concluded at Iris! 2015 was the earliest start and finish for harvest, with the final truck leaving the vineyard last Thursday. And what a great harvest it’s been! We could not have asked for more perfect weather this year, and Arpad, our vineyard manager, is very pleased with this year’s results: beautifully ripe fruit, superb flavors, and excellent tonnage harvested.
Autumn colors are just starting to set at the vineyard, so we hope you’ll come out to see the beautiful fall foliage later this week. We’ll also be serving Sauser for the last time this weekend. If you haven’t had a chance to enjoy this delicious, harvest-season-only “new wine,” this will be your last opportunity to enjoy it until next year. Traditionally only available to winemakers and their teams, Iris has been delighted to serve Sauser throughout this harvest season. Tastings are free, and a glass is only $6. We’re open Thursday – Sunday from noon until six. We hope you’ll join us. Cheers!
Wowser, It's Sauser! September 25 2015Sauser: An alcoholic beverage that is the product of fermented, freshly pressed grape juice, known as must. Once yeast has been added, grapes begin to ferment rapidly. The sugar contained in the grapes is broken down into alcohol and carbon dioxide (glycolysis). As soon as an alcohol content of four percent has been reached, Sauser may be sold.
Harvest 2015 is in full swing, and we’re excited to offer a delicious sampling of this year’s vintage only one week after the grapes have been harvested! As fermentation begins quickly after processing the grapes, this delicious, slightly sweet, and somewhat carbonated style of wine will be available throughout the harvest season in our tasting room. With a range of 5-9% ABV, these refreshing wines will provide you with a unique tasting experience, often limited to winemakers and their teams only. Stop by our tasting room to taste the Sauser for free, or purchase a glass for only $6!
Iris’ International Interns September 23 2015
Harvest is here! Not only is this an exciting time for our team as we start the process of transforming the harvested fruit into vintage 2015, but also because we welcome our annual international interns to the winery. When our winemaker, Aaron Lieberman, started with Iris in 2008, he brought with him an international intern program that continues to this day. Just prior to harvest each year, interns are selected from around the world through CAEP (Communicating for Agriculture Education Programs). Due to the strong wine culture in other parts of the world, international students tend to be the majority of our interns through this program. Typically, these students are graduates of an enology program at various universities around the world.
Our participation in the program is not only beneficial to the interns, as they apply their skills learned in university in a hands-on environment, but is incredibly beneficial to our wine-making team. We are able to keep up-to-date on the most recent science, research and techniques in wine-making, straight from the classroom experience at universities from around the world. These interns are also familiar with which wine
styles are currently popular outside of our region, as well as current market conditions. International flair and a global perspective is another tremendous benefit to our team via this program. In turn, we are able to provide real-world exposure to wine-making in order to complement the knowledge they gain in the classroom environment. Benjamin Ohly, from Germany, and Danny Wastivino, from Chile, are two of this year’s interns and, according to our Cellar Master Bruce Howard, are two of the best the we have had the privilege to work with. We’ll profile both of these interns as we move through harvest season, as well as update our readers on the current harvest. Until then - cheers!
2015 Veraison is in Full Swing September 04 2015
Veraison: In viticulture (grape-growing), veraison is the onset of ripening. The term is originally French (véraison), but has been adopted into English use. The official definition of veraison is "change of color of the grape berries".
The Southern Willamette Valley received some much needed rain over the last week, but fortunately it was not enough to have a negative impact on our quickly ripening grapes. The rain did, however, settle the dust a bit for our vineyard crew! The vineyard is at 80-95% veraison at the moment, and it looks like harvest will start with Pinot Gris at the end of September continuing with Pinot Noir in early October. The Chardonnay is always the last to ripen and be harvested.
The long term trend forecast is calling for a warmer and drier than average September and October. If this holds true, that will be great news for vintage 2015! We still have a sizable crop hanging and it needs a month or so of decent weather to ripen. Cheers!
Photos: Pinot Gris (top left), Pinot Noir (top right and below), & Chardonnay (far left)
July Vineyard Update July 22 2015
Growth and berry development continue very rapidly with the warm weather we've been experiencing in the Pacific Northwest. 95 degrees has been highest temperature so far in the vineyard; however, the vines have not looked heat stressed at all. Fruit set happened quickly and seems solid. The grape berries are quickly approaching pea sized. We've paused on leaf pulling due to heat and the need to keep up with raising wires and shoot positioning. Our crew is currently making a final pass for these tasks. We've been irrigating replants and hedging both by hand and with the machine.
We've also found some nesting swallows close to the tasting room. They are voracious insect eaters, and we are glad to see them healthy and helping to control the insect population at the vineyard. Stop by and see the fledglings this weekend!
Oak Savanna Restoration July 22 2015
Oak Savanna is one of the most important eco-systems in the valleys of the Pacific Northwest; however, less than 1% of the savannas that the first pioneers witnessed upon entering the Willamette Valley are protected in parks, designated wilderness, or special management areas. As a result, it is essential for private land owners to protect and restore this critical habitat. At Iris Vineyards, we are fortunate to have the legacy of this unique and much needed habitat in several areas across our 850 acre estate. We have endeavored to restore white oak savanna in areas where feasible, with much success; however, our work is not yet complete. Richard Boyles, co-owner of Iris, explains:
Over the next several weeks and months, we will look at the history of Oak savanna and its importance to the eco-system of the Pacific Northwest, including the legacy of the Kalapuya Tribes and the rapid disappearance of this landscape post-settlement. Next, we will chronical a restoration project that has just begun at Iris Vineyards and connect this project to others that have been undertaken in the Willamette Valley. Finally, we will highlight a local non-profit agency and review the work they have done throughout our region to restore this essential habit. We look forward to sharing this story with you and would encourage any feedback you have be submitted through our Facebook page, via Twitter, directly to our blog via the comments section below, or you can share photos you may have of Oak Savanna restoration to our Instagram account. Cheers!
2015 Vineyard Update June 16 2015
The 2015 growing season is off to a very warm start! Temperatures have already climbed into the 90’s and have been notably warmer than average throughout the season. As a result, the growing season is ahead of average.
Bloom is in full swing and should continue for a couple of weeks. It looks as though the warm, dry weather should continue throughout this year’s bloom, which is perfect conditions for vines during this phase. This year marked the earliest start to bloom since the vines were planted, a full two and a half weeks ahead of average.
Similarly, the vines have been growing at an incredibly rapid pace. We’ve seen a foot to a foot and a half of growth in the last 4-5 days. This type of growth results in many healthy leaves, which is good to have during bloom in order to contribute to a good fruit set.
So far, 2015 looks like another stellar vintage, similar to 2014. Cheers to another good vintage!
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