“Jam-packed” might be a good way to describe last week’s meeting. We had an informative presentation by one of the pioneers of the Oregon wine industry, and lots of guests, including some of the international youth exchange students and three newer members of the Early Birds club.
Exchange Students Pay a Visit
Dave Benson, right, a member of the Youth Exchange Committee, introduced some of the students who participate in what he called “one of Rotary’s most exciting programs.” Kathryn Lawson, left, spent the summer in Germany. Clara Perez, second from left, is here this year from Argentina. Danielle Bosse, second from right, studied in Argentina. Neves Eryigit, second from right, is here from Turkey.
The exchange students are fundraising to buy ShelterBoxes to give to some of the families affected by the recent natural disasters. Each ShelterBox contains a tent, water purification kit, blanket, tools and other necessities to help a family in need. An international dinner and auction will be held October 1st at Windrose Conference Center starting at 4pm. Please email Paula Radich by 5pm Tuesday the 26th if you are interested, as space is extremely limited.
Steve Palmer introduced our speaker, Alan Holstein, formerly of Argyle Winery and member of the “Oregon Wine Walk of Fame.” Steve mentioned that he and Jack Czarnecki solicit wine for our annual auction, and that Alan was always very generous in making donations. Alan recently stepped down at Argyle, and he and his son now each have their own private wine label.
Alan came to Oregon in 1979, so this is his 4th decade of living in Yamhill County. To start, he posed the question, “Why does pinot taste differently depending on where it’s grown?” He then added, “Great wines taste like they come from a certain place. And, the more specific the location on the label, the more expensive the wine.”
He explained there are six designated wine grape-growing regions, called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), in Yamhill County. “I’m going to talk about three– Yamhill Carlton, Dundee Hills and Eola-Amity,” he said. The other three are Chehalem Mountains, Ribbon Ridge and McMinnville Foothills.
To answer his original question, Alan did a “deep dive” into our area’s environmental factors and the geologic background of the soils. He explained that environment is defined as people interacting with the plants and the soil.
“We’re located at the 45th parallel, further north than most of America. Plants respond to day length. Wines from grapes grown here have a finesse and elegance on the palette that others from below do not have. We’re also located 40 or 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean. We have a temperature regime, as influenced by the ocean. These are some of the key environmental factors that distinguish Oregon from other areas.”
Alan explained how the unique soils of the area came to be. First, there was the geologic process of “accretion,” where the “ocean plate slid under the continental plate.” Then there was subduction, and pressure from the two plates colliding created the hills. Fifteen million years ago, there was a volcanic eruption that covered parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. That resulted in the Columbia River basalt flows. A second geologic event, the Missoula floods, also influenced the formation and structure of the soil. “Today, we can even see a color difference in the soils from the two events,” he said.
“Even the Van Duzer corridor, which provides a conduit of marine air into the area, has an influence on the grapes,” Alan said. “When I got these weather machines going, I found wind gusts at Eola of 30 to 40 mph. They were much lower at Dundee over the same 24-hour period. There was as much as a 35% difference between the two. The result is a more dehydrating environment in Eola. Therefore, Eola has more tannin than Dundee and can be complexing when done.”
Alan also entertained questions about wine corks, mechanical grape picking and Oregon Chardonnay. It was a very educational session, and as Alan even said at one point, “the more you learn, the less you know!”
Sharon Champagne from Guild Mortgage, Stewart Brown Group, and Ashley Mumm, who attended for the second week in a row, were guests of Om Sukheenai.
Jim McMaster introduced Jennifer Marsicek, lead architect on the new aquatic center.
In addition to Dave Benson and the students, we had quite a delegation from the Early Bird club…Kari Fahrenkopf and Geno Harrison from the Youth Exchange Committee, and newer Rotarians Yvette Heryford, Rachel Powell and Rod Federwisch. (Yvette is a business coach, career consultant and former owner of Sip City Coffee. Rod is pretty new to Newberg and a 25-year member of the Chino, California Rotary club.)