Salt Air Winemaking at the Oregon Coast’s Flying Dutchman Winery
We purchase our grapes from five notable Oregon vineyards in the central and south portions of the state. At harvest we meet the pickers at the vineyards then bring the grapes to the winery where we immediately de-stem the red grapes and press the white grapes. The white grape juice is put into barrels where it is fermented. The red grapes are placed in open-top fermenters (the larger stainless, white and green containers in the picture) where they remain outside in a ‘cold-soak’ status for 7 to 10 days. During this time there is a transfer of water-soluble flavors and color from the grapes to the juice. At other wineries this step takes about 3 days but with the cooler temperatures and salt air spray ours lasts much longer.
After this extended period of cold-soak, the native yeasts start fermenting. As in old world wine making, we allow this fermentation to occur naturally ‘punching down’ the pulp and skins that float to the top 3 times a day. This re-immerses the grapes and adds oxygen. While this fermentation step at other wineries lasts around 5 days, ours averages 7 to 14 days. Again, because of the salt spray and cool temperatures, our extended fermentation adds to the unique taste and complexity of our wines.
Once all of the grape sugars have been converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide, we gently press out the finished wine then place it in oak barrels where it remains for 10 to 36 months. When we feel the wine is at its peak, we bottle it then lay the bottles away for another 4 to 12 months. When the phrase was coined “we will sell no wine before its time” they must have been thinking of Flying Dutchman wines.
Richard Cutler, winemaker
Flying Dutchman Winery, Otter Rock Oregon, 541-765-2553 www.dutchmanwinery.com