The Wine: Only Zuul 2020
Swick Wines Only Zuul is a skin-contact natural wine made from a blend of 50% Pinot Gris, and 50% Gewurztraminer. The grapes are grown in Yakima, Washington, and Salem, Oregon. Swick Wines Only Zuul is fermented spontaneously, unfined, unfiltered, low sulfites (total 30 mg/L)
The Producer: Swick Wines • Joe Swick
Joe Swick is a Portland, Oregon native and 5th generation Oregonian. Joe started his career in the wine industry in 2003 when he landed a gig at Owen Roe Winery. In the years between 2003 and 2013, Joe traveled the world harvesting and working at several wineries, building an international experience which is very much reflected in his winemaking approach.
Joe moved back to Oregon in 2013 to start his own winery, Swick Wines,in the Willamette Valley. Joe's goal is to produce authentic and "naked" wines, inspired by the Pacific North West winemaking style, where every vintage is different. Jo abides by the "nothing added and nothing taken away" credo, which he believes is the only way to showcase the "terroir" in each wine.
At Swick Wines grapes are from sustainably farmed or organically vineyards. Wines are made without adding sulfites or a minimum amount, depending on the vintage, and are unfiltered - or lightly filtered, depending on the type of wine. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts, no malolactic fermenation, no corrections of any sort, Joe's wine is as pure as a wine can be.
The Region: Willamette Valley
Willamette Valley AVA is located in western Oregon, stretching for about 120 miles south of Portland. The Willamette River runs through the entire region. Willamette Valley is famous primarily for its Pinot Noirs, and it’s become one of the world’s benchmark for this cold-climate grape varietal, in some cases rivaling Burgundy.
The development of viticulture and winemaking in Willamette Valley can be attributed to the curiosity of a handful of University of California Davis students. In the 1960s they explored the area’s potential for viticulture and found that Pinot Noir would have adapted the best, and the rest is history.
In 1979, a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley took part in the Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades, beating several Burgundy Pinot Noirs, which at the time were regarded as the best expression of this fascinating grape varietal. This put Oregon and especially Willamette Valley one the wine world map.
Willamette Valley has been its own AVA since 1984, but in 2002 a movement to differentiate the valley’s terroirs started. As a result, several new sub-AVAs have been established in the past fifteen years: Dundee Hills, McMinnville, Eola-Amity Hills, Yamhill-Carlton District, and Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge.
The Terroir of Willamette Valley
The climate of Willamette Valley is predominantly maritime with rainy winters and dry summers. Temperature variation between day and night can be substantial. Pinot Noir, a grape varietal which tends to ripen early and favors cool climates, has adapted perfectly to the region.
The characteristic soil formation of Willamette Valley is rich in iron and is called Jory. It can be found pretty much everywhere in the valley and it’s responsible for Willamette’s signature Pinot Noir profile.