Episode 465 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Ken Wright, the founder and winemaker of Ken Wright Cellars, located in Carlton, Oregon.
Ken Wright moved to Oregon in 1986, and over that period of time a lot has happened for wine in the state. Single vineyard bottlings have proliferated, additional AVAs have been introduced, significant land investments have been made, and winemaking techniques have been adjusted. Ken witnessed and participated in a lot of that change firsthand, and this interview reveals a lot of his thinking about how today is different than yesterday in Oregon, and why. It is also notable how he goes about the discussion, because Ken has a vocabularly that is fluent in the chemistry of wine as well as the biology of vines. He makes links in this interview between, for instance, the geologic setting of a vineyard, the soil health of that site, the impact of those on the wine’s fermentation, and the taste markers of the total combination in the finished glass of wine. And he further addresses aspects like climate and exposure, making clear how those affect the process before the grapes are picked, as well as what the consumer finds in the wine in the end. It is rare that someone explicitly makes the links between, for instance, oxygen in vineyard soil and a taste later in the wine, but Ken does so here. If you would like to better understand the diversity of Oregon in its different areas, the mindset changes that have happened there over time, and how those play out in the actual wines you see available on a retailer’s shelf, this is a great summary.
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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine