Where: Rogue Valley and Van Duzer Corrider, Oregon
Who: Leah Jorgensen worked in wine marketing and communications for a decade, supporting such established brands as Erath Vineyards, Adelsheim Vineyard, and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, before launching her own label in 2011. Leah is mother to a toddler, Iver.
Of pandemic-related challenges, she says:
“I cut my production significantly this year for a number of reasons—but mostly caring for a toddler without my normal childcare in place and other challenges related to COVID-19 downturn in sales. “
Why: Leah has long specialized in Cabernet Franc, which she calls “the ultimate Cinderella grape”, with consistently remarkable results.
On winemaking amid wildfires:
“I have been dealing with wildfires in Southern Oregon—especially in 2013, 2017 and 2018. Timing is the crucial factor, as far as I’m concerned. Each of these years, including 2020, we managed to dodge wildfire smoke during veraison—the most likely vulnerable time in the vine’s life cycle.
With each of these vintages, I take preventative precautionary measures in the cellar to mitigate the potential for smoke taint. I have never dealt with high thresholds of guaiacol in any of these vintages, thankfully, but have been diligent in my cellar practices—like cutting back number of days of cold soaks to limit time on the skins to inoculating with non-GMO yeast strains that are especially geared towards developing fruit character, to maintaining quick, cool fermentations (we don’t get over 78 degrees F), to selection of used puncheons and neutral barrels.
The grapes this year were especially clean and lovely, fermentations smelled like fresh blackberries, brambles, and cassis. I am treating each lot as if there’s been mild exposure for preventative measures, but I am optimistic and my wines from 2013 and 2017, which had seen the most smoke exposure to date, are still tasting great. So, that gives me confidence and reassurance.”