April Winemaker's Barrel: Hanson Vineyards

Hanson Vineyards is a true family-run, artisan winery in the Cascade Foothills region of the Willamette Valley. The farm has been in Jason Hanson's family for four generations, originally as a berry farm, and now dedicated to estate-made wines, as well as a vegetable patch and flower gardens. It's a beautiful site off the beaten path in the Willamette Valley, with its classic red barn that is featured on the red wine labels serving as a bright back drop for summer vineyard visits.

The winery has two estate vineyards growing 11 different varieties. The vines around the winery itself comprise about nine and a half acres and account for the majority of the production. There are two distinct areas within this vineyard: one with sandy, rocky ground where you'll find Pinot Noir clones Pommard, Dijon 115, and Wadenswil, as well as the estate's Riesling blocks. The other area has mostly heavy clay soils, though these are exceptionally well-drained and acidic, typical features of the Willamette Valley that lend themselves perfectly to grape-growing. This is where you'll find the estate's many other varieties, including Gamay, Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, and Golubok for the reds, and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Auxerrois, and Chardonnay for the whites. It's quite a diverse range!

So let's talk Golubok, the least-known variety in the Hanson repertoire, as I'm sure you're all curious. This grape was developed in Ukraine as an early-ripening, hardy winter variety, and is grown in both Ukraine and Russia. It is planted at Hanson Vineyards in honor of the large population of Russian orthodox people that live nearby to the farm, and features in Jason's "Council of Pigeons" wine, where it is blended with Pinot Noir.  Get your likely one-and-only chance to try it on Saturday, April 8th.

The other estate vineyard, the Aamodt Block, is planted entirely with old-vine Pommard clone PInot Noir, planted in the 1980s. This block is on a beautiful, south-facing hillside above Rock Creek, and surrounded by the Aamodt Dairy, an organic family dairy dating back generations. Jason and his father took over the farming here and revitalized the vines, and the site now accounts for a large share of their award-winning Pinot Noir production.

Sustainability is an important part of the Hanson ethos, both in the vines and in the cellar. No glyphosate sprays are used, and wines are made with indigenous yeasts and low-intervention methods wherever possible. Jason often makes his harvesting choices based on acidity, rather than sugar levels, which means that all of the wines are fresh, delicate styles perfect for aging. Wines are aged in both barrels and tanks, depending on the cuvee, and no wine is rushed out to market -- the current vintage of the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is 2018. It's quite a rarity to see five years of age on a local Pinot that retails for just $24, which is one of the many reasons that this wine is a favorite of ours at L&E (and a current newsletter selection)!

At the end of the day, Jason is definitely a believer in the idea that the wine is made in the vineyard; in the cellar, he aims to be a steward only, guiding the grapes on their journey to becoming wine with patience, pragmatism, and care. The result? These are honest and pure local wines, made with care and attention to detail. They're wines for every day, wines for food, and wines for the cellar. 

Join Jason Hanson for a tasting at our shop on April 8th, 2023, from 12-4pm to learn more about his vineyard and wines.