What Is a Clone Wine?

An army of clones has invaded the Pacific Northwest! Well, not exactly. Oregon Pinot Noir wines use clone plants. Does that mean Pinot Noir clones were grown in a vat? Are they the subject of a mad experiment? No. All a clone means in this sense is that it’s propagated from one parent plant. It’s not the result of a cross-pollination between multiple plants.

Pinot Noir Clones | Oregon Pinot Noir Wines | Rainstorm Wines

Attack of the Clones?

Pinot Noir clones are used the world over. Did you know that Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris all come from the same grape? Then how do they taste so wildly different? How is one a red wine and the other two are white wines? The grapes involved are simply mutations of the same variety.

There are actually more than 1,000 different clones of Pinot. In each case, a particular plant’s grapes are desired to continue making a variety of wine. Cross-pollination would change inherent properties in the grape, so instead the original plant is simply propagated.

Each different clone that’s grown creates different qualities in its wine. Many require different growing environments. For instance, Pinot Noir is known as a temperamental grape that’s difficult to grow.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Diversity is important – it creates a healthier environment. This is why many vineyards maintain several different clones of a particular grape and blend various clones together. They’re still blending various Pinot Noir grapes together to make a Pinot Noir, so it’s not the same as a blend that mixes entirely different kinds of wine.

Oregon Pinot Noir was founded on Pommard, Wadenswil, and clones that originally come from the U.S. A number of Dijon clones later came over. This blend of different Pinot Noir clones from different origins has enabled Oregon vineyards to produce luscious, bold, floral Pinot Noirs that capture the imagination and delight the palate.

Oregon vs. Burgundy Pinot Noir: A Comparison

Why is Oregon Pinot Noir compared so often to Burgundy Pinot Noir? The wine achieved its greatest fame growing in the vineyards of Burgundy, France, so it’s a compliment when Willamette Valley wines are called Burgundian. How is it that Oregon wines recall their French cousins so vividly?

Oregon Pinot Noir vs. Burgundy | Willamette Valley Wines | Rainstorm Wines

In a Class of Their Own

“New World” Pinot Noirs don’t just refer to those grown in the United States. They can also refer to wines grown in New Zealand. Now, many places take an approach to Pinot Noir that pronounces its fruit flavors and lose some of the wine’s inherent, patient balance. It’s simply a matter of taste, but this can be one way California and New Zealand Pinot Noirs differ.

Climate Cousins

It’s not always intentional, either – at least not at first. Pinot Noir grapes are affected by weather, region, light and cloud cover, soil composition – an incredible range of factors that start before the more specific ones that winemakers control.

Like Oregon, Burgundy sees cool conditions with a good deal of cloud cover. The soil composition in both areas is very unique and uncommon. Both Oregon and Burgundy use some of the same “vine clones” – vines that are propagated from a particular plant. Some producers even produce Pinot Noir in both areas – Oregon and Burgundy.

More Similarities Than Differences

There’s something about Oregon Pinot Noir that maintains the greater complexity and silken texture of those Burgundy wines. It’s more elegant, with a taste of fruit that’s deep and lingering instead of immediate. For many, that’s how you recognize both an Oregon Pinot Noir and a Burgundian one. They’re both more subtle. There’s a touch more acidity, which develops a better balance. That can pronounce their mouthfeel that much more with ideal pairings.

A comparison comes away showing that Oregon and Burgundy Pinot Noir are remarkably similar and satisfying for many of the same reasons. If anything, the Oregon wines are just a touch earthier, a delicious quality in a Pinot Noir and a very Oregon-centric feature. They mix elegance with minerality that evokes its fruit flavors in incredible ways. You’re also more likely to find Oregon Pinot Noir with a bit more range, such as variants with lower alcohol content (better for dieting!) The Burgundy wines are masters of oakiness, and delivering their fruit components in waves.

More Complex, More Elegant

The main takeaway here is that both Oregon and Burgundy wines leave Californian and New Zealand versions in the dust when it comes to more complex wines. They have deeper, more layered taste, and their better acidity levels make Oregon and Burgundy Pinots more fulfilling when pairing them with snacks or meals.

7 Tips to Keep Wine Fresh After Opening

Everyone’s had a sip of wine that’s been open too long. What’s the secret to keep wine fresh after opening? There are actually a few proven tricks to storing opened wine. These tips can help extend a wine’s life so you can enjoy a bottle at your leisure.

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1. Use vacuum pumps.

Wine breaks down through oxidation. One of the best protections for storing open wine is to pump the oxygen out of the bottle and leave a vacuum remaining. A vacuum pump is very effective and sold at many stores. It won’t create a true vacuum, but it will create one that’s 70% effective. 

2. Keep open wine in a dark place.

Natural light spurs heat inside the bottle. That makes the oxidation process happen faster. This is one reason red wines often come in darkly tinted bottles. It helps protect what’s inside from light. It doesn’t have to be an absolutely dark place, but this is one reason why wines are best stored inside a cupboard, in a recessed wine rack, or in a wine fridge.

3. Refrigerate wine.

Storing your wine in cool temperatures slows the oxidation process down. A wine fridge is ideal because it keeps wines at an even temperature without becoming too cold. This keeps the wine closer to serving temperature than a normal fridge would.

4. Know its shelf life.

This won’t extend the life of your wine, but it will ensure you drink it before it starts turning off. Sparkling wine will go most quickly, at 1-3 days time. Red wine lasts 3-5 days. White wines can last anywhere from 3-7 days, with lighter bodied wines and rosés lasting the longest. Fortified wines can last about a month.

5. Wine stoppers can help.

No, Wine Stoppers isn’t a covert organization dedicated to stopping your enjoyment of wine. Wine stoppers are anything that helps create an airtight seal over the bottle. Ones that use soft flanges will work best.

6. Use wine shields.

These are soft plastic shields that you can fold and slip into a bottle of wine. They have air bubbles in the plastic, so that when they unfold, they float at the surface of the wine. This provides a floating cover that separates the wine from the air in the bottle. It moves to the side as you pour, because it wants to float on the upper surface of the wine.

7. Inert gas?

If you really want to get high tech, you can replace the oxygen in the bottle with an inert gas like argon. This keeps wine fresh after opening because argon doesn’t react to the wine like oxygen does. It will cover the surface of the wine, creating an unseen layer between the wine and the oxygen. Make sure you seal the bottle at the top so the argon isn’t tempted to escape over time.

Next time you enjoy a glass of your favorite wine, try one of these methods to keep it fresh.

How Is Wine Made?

The wine making process happens in stages. It starts with the harvesting of grapes and ends in a delicious glass of wine sitting in your hand. People have been making wine for at least 6,000 years and possibly longer. This is how wine is made today:

How wine is made

1. Harvesting the Grapes

Vineyards grow the grapes for what the varietals they plan to make, considering, of course, the soil conditions and climate. Wine grapes must be harvested at the exact right time of year so that they’ll have the right acidity, flavor, and sweetness. This depends on the environment and weather that year. Hand-picking the grapes helps preserve them longer – until the next step.

2. Crushing the Grapes

This might be the most famous part of how wine is made. Don’t worry, no one’s crushing them with their feet the way they do in classic movies. For a long time, this has been done mechanically.

For white wine, the pressed grape juice is separated from the pulpy parts of the grape, skin, and seeds. Red wine isn’t separated, as it acquires flavor and tannins from its prolonged contact.

3. The Fermentation Process

This juice is also called must. It’s left to ferment. Some winemakers leave it to do so naturally, and others add cultured yeast to make the process more predictable.

What does fermentation mean? This is when the sugar in the juice develops into alcohol. The longer the process goes, the more sugar converts into alcohol. This creates a dry wine. The earlier the process is stopped, the more sugar remains, creating a sweeter wine.

4. Clarifying the Wine

This process leaves proteins, yeasts, and other solids in the wine. This has to be clarified. The wine is racked into containers.

Winemakers may add elements that help to clarify out the wine’s impurities. Different solids are attracted to different natural materials. This is called fining. Clay is often used because it attracts these solids and then sinks to the bottom. This makes it easier to filter the wine into the container in which it will age.

5. Aging the Wine

Wines can be bottled immediately, but they’re typically aged for some time. This can be done in barrels, tanks, or bottles. Oak barrels are often used to preserve the smoothness of red wines while adding flavor. Steel tanks are often used for white wines to retain crispness.

When it’s done aging, the wine is bottled for sale. This is the wine making process in full. Now you know ever step in how wine is made. It’s something to appreciate the next time you enjoy a glass.

Top 5 Food and Wine Pairings You’re Missing

Looking for the best food and wine pairings? If you want to break out of the old stand-bys, you have to try something new. Food and wine pairing rules still apply – but you can (and should) get creative with them. 

wine parings

Here are 5 of the best food and wine pairings you may be overlooking:

1. Red Wine and Fish

Fish is typically paired with white wine. This is a proven, successful pairing. Why is it that they work so well together? Part of it is that white wine grapes are low in tannins. This means there’s little chance of a bitter taste. Look for red wines that are similarly low in tannins: a Pinot Noir is ideal.

2. Pairing with Salad?

Specific wines fit specific vegetables. Mix those veggies together and you lose that specificity, though. Does anything go with a salad that’s got lots of raw veggies? Try a rose. It has a fruit-forward character with crispness and a dry finish – perfect for matching a salad. If your salad has fruit in it, even better. The two will pair beautifully.

3. Tapenade Pairings

Tapenade is a delicious snack made chiefly from olives. Additional ingredients can change the flavor of tapenade, which makes it pretty versatile. If your tapenade is made from traditional recipes, aim for a white wine that’s crisp. If it includes sundried tomato, choose a sweet red wine.

4. White Pizza and Pinot Gris

Pizza with tomato sauce always tastes good with a red wine. What about white pizzas? Focus on the taste of cheese and other ingredients. Blends of soft cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta taste incredible with pinot gris. Best of all, pinot gris is ideal for pairing with many pizza toppings, from nearly all roast vegetables to chicken and seafood options. 

5. Sparkling Wine with Dessert

One of the most overlooked food and wine pairing rules has to do with sweet foods. When you’re pairing with a dessert, you always want the wine to be slightly sweeter. This avoids any hints of bitterness. What about when that dessert has dairy in it, like in custards or crème brulee? Here, sparkling wine delivers that sweetness. The fizziness also provides a texture that cuts through the smoothness of the dairy. The two combined make each component – dessert and wine – taste that much more refreshing.

There you have the best food and wine pairings that you’re missing out on? Which one will you make next?

Is Pinot a Type of Grape?

Sometimes there are wine terms that you kind of know… but you don’t know. That’s OK. The only way to learn is to ask. That’s probably what brings you here. If you hear the phrase “Oregon pinot” what exactly is being discussed? This refers to a group of wines made from pinot grapes.

Oregon Pinot Grapes | Rainstorm Wines

Pinot Grapes Are Versatile

Chances are you’ve enjoyed Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris (Grigio), Pinot Blanc, or another type of pinot. How can such different wines all come from the same grape?

Pinot Noir grapes: Let’s say you have two pinot grapevines. One has two genes that create what are called anthocyanins. These are biochemical reactions that create a red pigment. This is the most recognizable pinot grape because of its deep violet hue. This makes Pinot Noir.

Pinot Blanc grapes: Your second grapevine has a mutation that causes these genes to be inactive. There’s no biochemical reaction to cause that violent tint. This creates the pinot grapes used in Pinot Blanc. The wines made from these are much higher in acidity, and join floral and mineral tastes to its fruit flavors.

Pinot Gris grapes: What about Pinot Gris, or grigio? This comes from what are called chimeric plants. Essentially, these are plants where Pinot Noir grape skin surrounds Pinot Blanc grape cells. The ruby red color that results is Pinot Gris.

Pinot Wines from Oregon

Oregon Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir tends to have a taste centered on berries and deeply grounded earth flavors. Oregon Pinot Noir focuses on strawberry, cranberry, and rose flavors with a taste that brings the sensation of cherries and pomegranates. It leaves a deep and filling impression that lingers on the tongue. Here, you have a wine that’s an exquisite pairing with pork, mushroom dishes, beef stews, and game bird like duck.

Oregon Pinot Gris: Pinot Gris pairs the acidity of Blanc with crisp fruit flavors. Often, these are citrus or apple-centered. Oregon Pinot Gris is notable for going a different direction, bringing more complementary flavors into the mix such as pear, melon, and honey. These feel much more natural in a Pinot Gris, which is ideal with chicken, soft cheeses, root vegetables, and rich cream sauces.

Oregon Pinot Noir Rosé: Also try Pinot Noir Rosé. It’s a crisp, light take on rosé with exceptional strawberry and rose tastes. Often thought of as a summer wine, it’s also a relaxing winter wine that’s perfect for pairing with seafood and most fresh vegetables.

The best way to learn? Try! Sample some Oregon Pinot varietals and see which are your favorite. 

What Happens to Vineyards in Winter?

Vineyards in winter are still very much alive. The vines are growing below ground and careful pruning and care ensures the highest quality of grape the next year. Winter is Willamette Valley wine cellar season as well. Wines are developing their flavors slowly across the season, and staff make sure the environment is kept perfect. Holiday events and tastings help bring the best winter wines to the fore, the kind that warm you and fill you with comfort.

Vineyards in Winter | Willamette Valley Wine Cellar Season | Rainstorm Wines

What happens to the vines?

By winter, vines have had their grape bunches picked. Their leaves fall and the trunks and canes of the vine remain. Growth above the ground ceases for the winter. Underneath the ground, vines expand their root systems. These grow and grow, extending their ability to soak up nutrients from the soil.

The vines store carbohydrates in their trunks. They use these to grow new shoots and leaves come spring. To help the vines along, vineyard workers prune the vines. This helps the vines direct their stored energy into the most desirable shoots. This is a major part of what determines the quality of the grape.

How are vines protected?

Vines will also be protected from harsh weather. Earth, straw, heaters, and other materials are used to help the vines survive winter and to protect against erosion. Vineyards in winter that need to be reinvigorated may be planted with a cover crop. This can help prevent erosion. Mowing and mulching it in warmer weather can help return nutrients to the soil.

What is Willamette Valley wine cellar season?

Wine life is a cycle. Even if the vines are slowing their growth and the grapes have been picked, work hasn’t stopped during the winter. Wines are aging in the cellars, which have to be maintained at specific environmental conditions.

Wines created from the recent harvest will be found in barrels and tanks. The malolactic fermentation is a secondary stage where many wines (all reds and some whites) develop a smoother texture. Wines being aged in oak are bringing their flavors together more closely with earthy qualities and oak aromas.

It’s not until February and March that earlier vintages will come out of their barrels. This is when wines are ready for bottling, and when the newest wines are ready for tasting.

Are there winter tastings?

Wineries will have winter-themed tastings and holiday events by the bushel, so the front end staff is still working hard in fall and winter even after the harvest. Wine makes for an excellent gift that everybody likes, and tasting is the best way to ensure that gift is perfect. Who says holiday shopping is a chore?

How to Celebrate the Holidays in Oregon Wine Country

The Willamette Valley wine region is a spectacular place to visit during the summer. But what happens in the winter? Does that same luxurious magic last still cast a spell over Oregon wine country when it gets colder? It certainly does. The Valley hosts a number of enchanting traditions that make for ideal winter getaways.

Oregon Wine Country | Willamette Valley Wine Region | Rainstorm Wines

Oregon is famous for its multitude of climates and environments. The Willamette Valley wine region allows a lot of activity both indoor and out during the winter.

  • Magic at the Mill features holiday lights, live music, and tons of family activities. There are spinning and weaving demonstrations, as well as blacksmiths showing off their trade. You can also walk the beautiful property and enter historic homes, where re-enacted figures from history can talk a little about themselves. This is at the Willamette Heritage Center Dec. 19-23.
  • Christmas in the Garden features a German Christmas Market designed with authenticity in mind. The forest itself is lit up with one million lights. There are also fire pits and an ice skating rink! While kids are enjoying skating or the tubing rink, adults can enjoy live music in a heated Biergarten. The best holiday experiences are both exciting and comforting, and Christmas at the Garden gets both right. It takes place at The Oregon Garden Nov. 29-Jan. 5.
  • Local Christmas tree farms are plentiful. The Mt. Hood area is actually the largest producer of Christmas trees in the country. This means dozens of Christmas tree farms. Many have other activities going on, from wreath-building to hayrides.
  • Deck the Hills is a series of events and celebrations that the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association joins every year. There are countless special events at various locations in the Dundee Hills area.
  • Oregon wine country as a whole is well worth a vacation in winter. The bed and breakfasts are comforting places to get away from it all. Morning fog makes the light glow across the vineyards, and many take part in special events. There’s no rule that says you can’t have a tasting in winter, and the wines that complement the season best are warming and full of flavor.

Come celebrate the season in the incomparable Oregon wine country.

What Is the Willamette Valley Known For?

The Willamette Valley, nestled in the heart of Oregon, has emerged as a leading American viticultural area. Our geographic features and weather patterns combine to produce intriguing, complex, and, of course, delicious varietals. This is an exciting region – yes, because of the wine! But also because it is a unique corner of the country that has much to offer.

But let’s start with the wine!

American Viticultural Area | Willamette Valley Pinot Noir | Rainstorm Wines

Wine

The New York Times called Willamette Valley the “country’s most exciting wine area.” Thanks, NYT. We know! There are over 500 wineries within 150 miles, most of which are privately and / or family owned. Winemaking is not just a business; it is a passion. And this is reflected particularly well in the world famous Willamette Valley pinot noir.

Food

Every great wine needs a perfect pairing. Our area draws master chefs who cannot wait to create culinary masterpieces in our fresh farm-to-table culture. Reserve a table at the luxe Jory, Subterra Wine Cellar & Restaurant, Storrs Smokehouse, Bar Deux, or the Painted Lady for an experience like no other. The views are almost as exquisite as the food and wine. Almost! 

Natural Beauty

Speaking of which, the Willamette Valley is also renowned for its natural beauty. We are the land carved out by glaciers and made rich with volcanic soil. Additionally, this is a prime destination for those looking for paddling and whitewater rafting (from beginner to whoa levels), and we have waterfalls aplenty. Willamette Falls is a showstopper, but also view Silver Falls State Park, Butte Creek Falls, Spirit Falls, Wildwood Falls, and Munson Creek Falls to be awe-inspired.

In addition to being a prime American viticultural area, Willamette Valley also grows some gorgeous lawns. We grow more turf and forage grass than anywhere else in the world and produce sought-after grass seed. (If that’s a question on Trivia Night, you’re welcome.) The grass really is greener here! We’ve got culture, too: for example, a large number of Bavarian immigrants settled in the area, and in spring, you’ll get your fill of tulips, wooden shoes, hopped beers, and lederhosen.

This is a charming, unique, quirky locale – and we wouldn’t change a thing! Whether you’re a resident who wants to play tourist or a visitor who wants to explore, grab a bottle of Willamette Valley pinot noir and enjoy!

Books and Wine

When you’re enjoying a light summer salad with garden fresh produce and a homemade mint vinaigrette, you want an equally refreshing rosé to elevate the gorgeous vibrancy. When you’re serving up seared salmon, pinot noir adds a bright, well-rounded note. We often pay great attention to exquisite food and wine pairings… but what about book and wine pairings? After all, there is no greater pleasure than indulging ourselves with books and wine – and some much-needed quiet time to restore our energy and our souls!

Books and Wine | Book and Wine Pairings | Rainstorm Wines of Willamette Valley, Oregon

Books and Wine: All You Need for a Great Night

Pinot Noir: The critics agree: when you’re reading a dark, seductive novel, pinot noir is your go-to. It is luxe, complex, glamorous – with a hint of mystery. What will happen next? Turn the page and find out.

Try: American Gods (Neil Gaiman), Tipping the Velvet (Sarah Waters), Anything by Louise Penny

Pinot Gris: Crisp, bright, and succulent, this is the perfect wine for books that are light, fresh, fun – and may hold a surprise or two. 

Try: Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams), Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (Mindy Kaling)

Pinot Noir Rosé: The drink of summer! Now is the perfect time to indulge in sweet adventures that have a bit of pop to them. Whether it’s a beach read or an unwind-after-a-long-day-at-work read, you’ll lull yourself into a summertime mood- no matter what time of year.

Try: The History of Bees (Maja Lunde), When We Left Cuba (Chanel Cleeton)

Do you also love:

Merlot: Try a complex love story (a happy ending is a bonus!)

Champagne: Toast to The Great Gatsby himself

Mulled Wine or Cider: A book that will transport you to the depths of winter and have you snuggling under the blankets 

Cabernet Sauvignon: Get out your royal mysteries, your epic battles, and your Downton Abbey-esque intrigues.

Finding the Perfect Book and Wine Pairings

In the end, the best book and wine pairings are those that you enjoy most. So if you want to read a comedy with some pinot noir, or read a tear-jerker with some rosé – by all means – enjoy!

Books and wine also make exceptional gifts for birthdays and holidays. So next time you’re making your list and checking it twice, think about a present that will be doubly enjoyed!