Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Doug Tunnell, the owner and winemaker at Brick House Vineyards in Newberg, Oregon.
Doug’s winemaking career began somewhat accidentally 1988. That year, while working overseas as a foreign correspondent for CBS news, he learned that Burgundy’s famous Drouhin family had purchased land in Dundee, Oregon to launch a U.S. winery. He had fallen in love with wine while living in Europe, and grew up in the Willamette Valley. So he made a decision to purchase land near his childhood home so he could soon move back and start growing grapes.
Within two years, Doug found a 40-acre parcel — half covered in hazelnut trees — near the eastern end of the Chehalem Range, and started planting grapes. Today, about 19 acres of the property are planted to Pinot Noir; another ten are split between Chardonnay and Gamay Noir.
At first, Doug’s plan was to run an organic vineyard and sell the grapes. He was still working for CBS and was looking forward to life as a farmer once his contract finished. He quickly realized, though, that the numbers would never add up if he simply sold grapes. So after leaving CBS in 1993, Doug began making wines with the assistance of Steve Doerner at Cristom. Like most Oregon winemakers, Doug is eager to talk about all the many vintners who helped him along the way, including John Paul of Cameron Wines and Michael Etzel of Beaux Frères.
I visited Doug (together with John Trinidad of SF Wine Blog) on my recent trip to Oregon for the Wine Bloggers’ Conference – and the wines simply blew me away. While Doug is best known for his stunning Pinot Noirs, his Gamay Noir was the most electric wine of my trip.
Check out our interview with Doug below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »