The seed for AVERÆN was planted when we attended IPNC in the Willamette Valley three years ago with Banshee Wines (our Sonoma winery). There we were, sitting around a campfire, in what is now a vineyard that we're sourcing 10 tons of Pinot Noir from this harvest, talking about the similarities between our cold and foggy Sonoma Coast and the various sub-appellations of the Willamette Valley. From the cold wind that funnels from the Pacific Ocean through low-lying gaps in the coastal mountain ranges (the Van Duzer Corridor in Oregon and the Petaluma Wind Gap in Sonoma), to the mix of marine sedimentary and volcanic influenced soils that play off of one another to create the micro-terroirs of each appellation. The similarities were shocking. What got us really excited was that we saw the potential to make wine at the very highest level, using what were considered at the time to be the very top vineyard sites, all at a cost that was considerably less that what we were experiencing in the Sonoma Coast. Oregon reminded us of where the Sonoma Coast was 10-15 years ago. Still finding its way in terms of consistency, but when done right, way over-delivering. The quality was there in a big way, but the prices were still so reasonable.
As fate would have it, we reconnected with our friend and winemaker Adam Smith, who made the very first vintage of Banshee Wines in California for us. Adam moved to Oregon in 2010 and has made wine at Shea Cellars, Domaine Serene, and has made all three vintages of the highly sought-after new project from Meo-Camuzet. Adam is a superstar winemaker who knows every grower here in the Valley. His connections and reputation are the only reason we are able to source this quality of fruit this early in our project’s life.
I came to the Pacific Northwest a starving artist, intent on exploring the depths of winemaking and viticulture. I found Oregon's haunted allure irresistible and the wines contained within expressed electricity and elegance. The industry had room for an eager gutter punk like me, so I jumped in. I worked as a cellar rat at Domaine Serene and spent those formative years with a small team working on some of the most infamous wines in Oregon's history. From there I went on to work as an assistant winemaker for Shea Wine Cellars, Craggy Range (NZ) and Bethel Heights Vineyard. A short ways into my career I was lured to the Sonoma Coast to work as a custom winemaker, and there my relationship with Banshee began in the very same instant Banshee herself was born. Sonoma wasn't for me, though. After a couple of vintages I returned to Oregon to architect some start-up wine brands, most notably making the wines for Domaine Nicolas-Jay (the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir project of Dom. Meo-Camuzet's own Jean-Nicolas Meo) as well as my own project, Eisold-Smith Wines. After years of discussion and ongoing friendship, the Banshee gang brought me back into the fold to make AVERÆN, and a more perfect fit I cannot imagine.