about red electric
Energy. Tension. Beauty. At Red Electric, we believe the world’s finest Pinot Noir exhibits a vitality that bursts from a combination of tension and natural beauty. This internal coil gives lift to the wine. The depth of flavors are balanced by the bolt of energy that should run seamlessly from the captivating aromatics, through a taut mid-palate, and to a long and satisfying finish. In the best years, this nervy core should balance the maturing fruit and the wines will have a long window of fine drinking.
THE RED ELECTRIC TRAIN
From 1913 to 1929, the iconic Red Electric commuter trains began a transportation revolution, carrying passengers from Portland to the communities of the Willamette Valley that are now intimately associated with Oregon Pinot Noir—Sherwood, Newberg, McMinnville, Forest Grove, Carlton, Salem, Eugene and others. With a nod to the distinctive railcars, we hope our wines capture the electricity and excitement of that era.
It has been said that Pinot Noir is a mirror. To us, this means that Pinot Noir, if treated respectfully, will transparently reflect terroir and vintage. This is our goal.
All Red Electric grapes come from Armstrong Vineyard, in the privileged Ribbon Ridge AVA of the Willamette Valley. Given the scope of this project, we are able to use all sections of the vineyard to find optimal combinations of Pinot Noir clones and rootstock to assemble our final blends. The vineyard has been farmed organically since 2013 (though not certified at this time). Each year, grapes are harvested over several weeks in September and October, allowing variability in sugar concentration (brix), acid and tannin levels.
At an elevation of 300-400 feet and with south and southwest slopes, Armstrong Vineyard was planted in 2007 on the classic, ancient sedimentary soils of the Willakenzie series found in Ribbon Ridge. According to John Winthrop Haeger, Ribbon Ridge “displays uncommonly consistent, fine-textured marine sedimentary soils at all plantable elevations” (North American Pinot Noir, 2004). Pinot Noir clones at Armstrong Vineyard include Pommard, Wädenswil and Dijon 114, 115, 667 and 777. In 2017, one acre was grafted over to Chardonnay (primarily Mt. Eden clone, with scion wood sourced from Cameron and Johan wineries).
RED ELECTRIC PINOT NOIR
• moderate use of whole cluster fermentation when stems optimally lignified
• limited use of new oak barrels
• careful barrel selection to emphasize structure
• native yeast fermentation
• acidulation only when necessary
RED ELECTRIC Team
Grape-grower Douglas Ackerman experienced his Oregon wine epiphany when served a bottle of 1993 Bethel Heights SE Block Pinot Noir at dinner in Salem. He simply could not believe that such a compelling and complete wine was produced a mere 8 miles from where he sat at that moment. His passion for great wine rapidly led him to the Old World, and the wines of Burgundy, Champagne, Piedmont and Austria in particular. By 2006, Doug and his wife Michele were convinced that Oregon was producing world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay—and that they needed to be a part of the wine community. When a 16 acre parcel of a beautiful horse farm on Lewis Rogers Lane became available, Doug and Michele took the plunge and began the process of developing Armstrong Vineyard.
During the first five years of grape production, all Armstrong fruit was sold to terrific local wineries and developed a reputation for exceptional quality. Old friends Doug and John discussed the idea of starting a brand based solely on Armstrong fruit—and their common vision was immediately clear: here was an opportunity to utilize all sections of the vineyard to produce the balanced, beautiful and intense wines. For John, the opportunity to come full circle and work intensively with Ribbon Ridge fruit was irresistible. Doug and Michele are delighted to have such a talented and dedicated winemaker on board the Red Electric!
John Grochau is the winemaker and owner of Grochau Cellars in Amity, OR. After racing bicycles in France in his early 20’s, Grochau returned to his hometown of Portland, OR and found his calling in hospitality—and wine specifically. With more than a decade selling wine in some of Portland’s finest restaurants, including a 14-year stint at Higgins, Grochau plunged into winemaking. He spent a year in Sonoma before returning to Oregon to work at Erath Winery, and then worked alongside winemaker Doug Tunnel at Brick House Vineyards for four years. His first vintage as Grochau Cellars was 2002. Inspired by the diversity of the Willamette Valley’s soils and microclimates, Grochau strives to make wines that are balanced, textured and expressive of place. Working with grape varieties with a legacy in the Willamette Valley, Grochau also seeks to showcase the potential of emerging varieties like Gamay and Melon de Bourgogne.
2015 Red Electric
Our first release. 120 cases.
Pinot Noir clones: Pommard, Wädenswil and Dijon 667, 777 and 115.
18% new oak barrels
20% whole cluster fermentation
Élevage 17 months
2016 Pinot Noir
A very aromatic, sexy introduction to the vineyard with plenty of verve and a firm spine.
5% new oak
Clones: Pommard (25%), 777 (20%), 115 (20%), 667 (20%), 114 (13%) and Wädenswil (2%)
12% whole cluster fermentation
Natural yeast fermentation
9 special barrels that yield a precise, focused, bright and pure interpretation of the vineyard.
Clones: Wädenswil (30%), 115 (30%), 667 (10%), Pommard (10%) and 114 (10%)
15% new oak
18% whole cluster fermentation
Natural yeast fermentation
Only made in special vintages
4 special barrels that yield a masculine wine, with grip and intensity but still lithe and focused. A special occasion wine.
25% whole cluster fermentation
Dijon clones 115 (39%), 777 (20%), 667 (13%), 114 (15%) and Wädenswil (15%)
30% new oak
Natural yeast fermentation
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Red Electric Chardonnay 2018…currently in the barrel!