Wines Crafted in Amity, Oregon since 1987


Winemaker Musings | Dana The Secret


I try to make wine as the French have for a thousand years.

I use a treading method called pigeage; the "g" is silent it simply means crushing the grapes off the skins, seeds, and stems in the fermenters. Just the top softly crushing; the CO2 is gas from the fermentation. The rising cap is called the "must" as the crushed fermenting grapes rise due to the rising carbon dioxide from the yeast. Bare feet pushing the crushed grapes back into the juice.

It is said the most beautiful virgin village girls would climb into the tanks to ever so gently crush whole grapes still on the stems. I have tried to follow the centuries old traditions; forced to make some changes, however, due to availability of modern virgins. I try to go without treading on tradition. The times and our version of beauty leaves us with a 110 pound beauty just not heavy enough to crush the fresh grapes.

Today, the best model is 160 pounds; unafraid of the dark stains or the acid in the vibrant, opulent dark wine; rich grapes staining the skin. Most years the best women is a version wearing hip waders without feel for fermentation. And some years even men with blunt punch down sticks. But one year, a quite athletic, enthusiastic lithe girl with the fullness of form and large bare feet. Dana, the perfect model who liked squishing as she called it. She was a vigorous grape squisher. Sometimes I had to say "get out of the tank, you have squished enough."

I often wished the 40 years difference between our ages did not exist. I took every opportunity. I took every chance to be near her without remembering my vanished youth. While eating lunch with her, I told her the French say "the best food for yeast in the must is human urine." "You mean pee?" she says, That's terrible." No, I say urine is sterile and mostly the ammonia that the grapes need. Could we just try it in one tank, just pee into the must. But you must never never tell anyone or else I would never sell wine again. "What do you think?" I ask, "Could you try it?" I asked knowing she would do it and would never tell anyone. Squat is the ugly word for the stance when women urinate. But Dana was so beautiful in that moment in the grapes. A very private moment for something. Our eyes locked as we shared this confidential moment. We shared the best of secrets, interment shame, something not talked about, very intimate. An intimacy we pursued many different ways for the rest of the harvest.

Although I enjoyed the action, the French are wrong...the wine was not better.