NEWBIE INTRO: Violin Wine--Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon

Looking forward to participating in my first and the eleventh Berserker Day! I’ve met a share of Berserkers over the past few years, both at the the last two Throwdowns and hosting tastings, (see some banter here A Berserker suggested I get involved to have an opportunity to meet more of the Pinot Centric out there.

I started Violin in 2013 after a decade working production for a few producers in Oregon, notably Laurent Montalieu, followed by a couple vintages at Evening Land before ending up at Walter Scott for five years where I helped in their production as a barter for space. When I finally grew the brand from 600 (first four vintages) to 1000 cases in 2017, I moved to Amity where I share space with John Grochau (GC, Red Electric, Upper Five among others), Michael Sterling (Franny Beck), and Steve Ryan (Le Cadeau). As I have rested Pinot for 14-16 months in every vintage (big believer in “longer” elevage), I won’t bottle my 18s until the end of this month, the first vintage I will also bottle Chardonnay and have crested the 1000 case mark (950 Pinot Noir, 170 Chardonnay, 75 Rosé).

My brand has remained Eola-Amity focused, though I have also bottled designate wines from Sunny Mountain Vineyard (Monroe), “First Man” (Gaston), and soon to be Coast Range Vineyard (McMinnville Foothills, YC technically). In 2018, my WV Pinot will be 93% EAH, and I will bottle vineyard designates from Justice, Sojeau (Formerly Sojourner), and First Man. My flagship Grey Label is now called Polk County, which blends Justice, Sojeau, and a new site Prophet, representing the special zone which includes the Southern 40% or so of the Eola Hills exclusively. (Polk County starts around Seven Springs Vineyard. It includes Cristom, Bethel Heights, Temperance Hill, Lone Star, Zena Crown, Zenith, and South of Zena Road with Roserock, Eola Springs, Carter, Nuestro Sueno, Canary Hill, La Chenaie, among many others. Sites in Polk County but NOT Eola Amity would include Johan, Left Coast, Freedom Hill, and many of the sites in the new “Van Duzer” AVA.) I am a firm believer that the influence of the Ocean helps moderate this zone more dramatically than sites further North and South. This does not mean cooler, but more consistent, and certainly more affected by windy conditions. Consistency and moderation allow for the best marriage of ripening and restraint—natural acidity, aromatic and flavor expression, pigmentation and tannin in fine balance.

My goal is capturing freshness from the vine, and crafting wines which have the balance to showcase site and vintage with transparency, complement food, and age favorably in bottle. The pursuit of elegance yes, but mouthwatering and delicious first.

All my growing partners dry farm using Organic and/or certified sustainable methods. The hard work to achieve optimum quality on the vine allows for a lighter touch in the cellar. I prefer shorter time on skins (15-20 days), only mild use of whole cluster (10-20%), no additions of commercial yeast, nutrients or fining agents, and employ pumpover and occasional pigeage instead of any punching down. I do not rack during the 15 month elevage, only at assemblage where the wines see 4-6 weeks of tank resting prior to bottling at around 16-17 months post harvest.

Happy BD 11!


Finally got Will’s photo up so I could post this Newbie Intro as well!

Will, looking forward to trying your wines. How might you compare/contrast your style to Walter Scott, John Grochau or Laurent Montalieu?


Glad you’re participating! For those who haven’t tasted, Will makes great wines!

Excited to try your wines!

Rich, I spent five vintages with Laurent and five with Ken at Walter Scott, so I have a more familiar sense of their styles than John’s. In reality, I think Laurent makes many different styles, as does John. The Walter Scott portfolio is more “acute” in terms of style I think. (My goal has continued to be more focused in my pursuits as a producer).

Without going into great detail on methods/techniques, my wines favor delicacy and detail over generosity/ richness or obvious power. In balance alcohol is huge for me as a drinker and a producer–I would see Laurent’s wines leaning higher alcohol, less acidity, sweeter wood tones, than the GC wines or Walter Scott. GC seems to favor very modest use of new wood, Walter Scott goes relatively high at times. I would say my wines find a point somewhere in between those two–only barrels of impact, but relatively low use of new. As an almost exclusive Eola Amity producer, I share some sites with Walter Scott, and would see plenty of tonal similarities as a result. That said, GC Bjornson Vineyard falls right in line with my wine’s tones, compared to the wines John makes from areas in the North that have less “snap”. And I think this is a key point. I prefer the Solena Pinots from Hyland or Zena Crown vineyards much more than from Domaine Danielle Laurent—naturally more balanced and finessed for my palate from a producer making the wine in mostly the same way.

I’ve been lucky to work with professional and great people crafting wines in bigger or smaller scales. I liken my time with Laurent to working as a sous chef in a big kitchen–learning all the stations, practicing and perfecting techniques on a broad range of cuisine. Since then, I continue to dial in my craft, but spend so much more time focusing on what we can achieve in the vineyard to bring the best ingredients to the kitchen, and focusing on very specific cuisine rather than offering any sort of smorgasbord. Focusing on vineyards in the Southern Eola Hills does allow my wines to take the “tone” of the area within the framework of my style.

Hope that helps?


Will, thanks for the very thoughtful response! I look forward to giving Violin a try.


Wow Will…amazing response!

Will does a great job and is building Violin into something truly special.

Great to have you here, Will. Ken and other winemakers have suggested your wines in the past so I’m looking forward to it!

Thanks to the generous support of so many wonderful people…like Andy and Sue Steinman!