The Oregon wine scene is beginning to really find its feet, and it isn’t difficult to see why. It is currently awash with a new generation of easygoing, young and inspired winemakers, who are keen to make a name for the state in regards to fine viticulture, but without the elitism and pretentiousness which is present in the culture of many other wine regions. The youth and dynamism of the Oregon wine set is exciting, and is seeing risks being taken in an otherwise conservative industry. One such winemaker is Jay Somers, the head of J Christopher winery. He prides himself on his laid back, instinctive and easy going approach to viticulture, claiming that he only makes the kind of wine that he himself would love to drink. It’s certainly not a bad place to start, and the feedback and praise he’s receiving for his recent output suggests that he is definitely on the right track.
J Christopher winery started in the mid nineties, when there was a big rush of interest in what Oregon could do as a wine producing region. Somers claims that he started from the bottom, with three thousand dollars and a ton of Pinot Noir grapes, using his instincts and sense of taste to guide him at first. Today, he’s the proud owner of a new winery, a forty acre estate sitting in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, where the cool climate and mineral-rich soils are perfect for growing the Pinot Noir vines he’s become famous for. Somers is inspired by Burgundy wines - hence his love for Pinot Noir - and claims he wants to bring some of their finesse and elegance to Oregon. However, his aim is to get as much expression as possible from his land into his bottles, as he believes his terroir is some of the finest in the New World. In order to achieve this, he has begun exploring Biodynamic principles, and using organic farming techniques to make sure nothing gets between his grapes and the wine which he makes from them.