Standing inside a cool warehouse, surrounded by rack upon rack of oak and steel barrels in various stages of fermentation, Drew Herman was willing to let me taste as much wine as I wanted. We’d already sipped several still-in-process pinot noirs, with countless tastes reflecting the many variables at play: grapes, yeast strains, toast of the oak barrel, and more. We sampled pinot noirs fermented with two different variants of a Swiss clone called Wädenswil; we sampled wines at different stages of fermentation; we sampled wine from new barrels.
Given the heat of 2015, our yard and garden is rapidly approaching end of July appearances, for better and for worse.
First, the “for better”. Everything, when given enough water, is blooming, lush, vibrant, and tall. The dozens of tomato plants are all flowering, some have green fruit, and we’re anticipating (barring unforeseen disasters) a tomato crop that could rival a small farm’s (a very small farm!). The peppers aren’t that far behind, and lately, after a quiet month in the ground, all of the basil transplants seem to be doubling in size daily.
While early dusk settled across downtown Portland, the sun still shone brilliantly orange a mere fifteen minutes away, casting long and dappled light onto Sauvie Island. I’d returned to Sauvie for a second visit to The Croft, Greg Stamp and Vail Fletcher’s small farm and even smaller bed and breakfast about a mile past the Corten steel bridge that separates Route 30 from the agricultural island. The first time I’d met the couple – Greg, a former tea buyer for Tazo Tea, and Vail, a professor of communication studies with a focus on culture, conflict, and identity at the University of Portland – we’d sat and sipped tea inside their house, the windows open for a lovely cross breeze, the cool air and lingering clouds dictating our tea and conversation. I’d left that day with a plan to return to see the hay fields in front of their home kissed with golden sunset light, prompted by a feeling that seeing the property in the early evening would allow for a fuller understanding of the lifestyle the couple have consciously planned, laid out, and created.