Willamette Valley, Oregon
Like many wine regions, the Willamette Valley has one grape that has come to define the area. Once the success of Pinot Noir was established, its roots spread far and wide in northwest Oregon, pre-defining the style for new winemakers who desired success. Today, however, we’re in the midst of an obscure renaissance as savvy drinkers have traded the customary for the esoteric. Enter Brianne Day.
At the age of 16, Brianne’s family moved to the gorgeous Willamette Valley, and although the fertile region offers the chance to fall in love with everything from apples to hops to dairy cows, it was the rows of vineyards that piqued her curiosity the most. Several years later, as a young adult, she saved her pennies and began a journey that has since taken her to 80+ wine regions.
Today, she’s just finished her fifth commercial harvest, although her wines feel as if she’s a fifth-generation winemaker, her experience level informed, no doubt, by her impressive resume. She’s worked in wine retail, restaurants and coopers, as well as for several of Willamette’s top wineries (including two of the oldest, most legendary: The Eyrie Vineyards and Brooks Winery).
Her experience led her to the conclusion that her wine must be natural, an integral link binding humans to the earth and each other. She finds small, personally owned vineyards committed to clean agriculture, and her wines are fermented with native yeasts in neutral oak.
She’s quickly becoming a leader of natural winemaking in the Willamette, but she’s also returning the favors she was granted as a young dreamer by creating Day Camp, a collective winery that currently hosts 7 up-and-coming producers, allowing them the space and pace to make delicious, authentic wines in an environment rich with knowledge and community.
Day Wines - website
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80% Vermentino and 20% Muscat is the blend on this curious pet-nat, balancing bundles of floral notes with a hint of oxidation. Frothy and unfiltered, it's also sees no addition of sulfur.
Brianne sources Marsanne, Rousanne and Grenache Blanc from a vineyard in Applegate Valley, in southern Oregon where Rhône Valley grapes reign supreme. The grapes are all pressed together, while the wine rests completely undisturbed for 11 months in one 700 liter new barrel and one 228 liter neutral barrel. Weighty and rich, this wine was made for her sister Danacia who loves her whites full of lush stone fruits.
In 2009, Roger Layne grafted Tannat and Côt vines on his old Cabernet rootstocks. In the Applegate Valley, the elevation is similar to Irouleguy, the tiny French Basque AOC where Tannat thrives. For her rosé, she has Roger pick early when acids are bright and sugars in check.
Vin de Days
In the Chehalem Mountains, Brianne sources younger Pinot Noir from two small, family-owned vineyards. For this cuvee, the Noel Family Vineyard fruit goes whole cluster into the fermentation tank, then the Nemarniki Vineyard fruit gets destemmed and added on top. The "partially carbonic" fermentation brings out more preferable youthful qualities, as the wine is juicy and full of cherry fruit.
Silvershot Pinot Noir
Silvershot Vineyard sits on the western edge of the Eola Amity Hills AVA, where the soil mixes ancient marine sediment with random basalt boulders. Some of the grapes are left whole cluster, and the wine was aged for 19 months in a 90/10 ratio of old to new oak. Brianne says it's her most savory Pinot.
Those Tannat grapes from Layne Vineyard that don't make the rosé cut are left to hang through October, then fermented 25% whole cluster and left to age for two years in barrel. Like its Irouleguy counterpart, the wine packs some serious punch, with bold and spicy flavors supported by plush and mouthfilling tannin.
Combining her love for field blends and the exciting grape growing in Applegate Valley, Brianne sources the fruit for this blend from Mae's Vineyard. Tended by Herb Quady, who also consults for Layne Vineyard, the grapes are grown, picked and fermented together. With 50% Cab Franc, 25% Tannat and 25% Malbec, she once again offers an American answer to Irouleguy, a style that feels somewhat like a savage Bordeaux.
Hock and Deuce
In Mae's Vineyard, Herb Quady also grows Viognier and Syrah, which pick up notes of the fragrant surroundings, rich with evergreen and eucalyptus. The blend is typical to the Rhône, although the proportion of 20% Viognier is very much not. That much Viognier really softens the edges, resulting in a charming wine with very pure, red tones.