Our latest interview for the documentary took us to the technical side of winemaking. Elizabeth Clark didn’t set out be a winemaker. A lifelong wanderer with a background in Math and Russian, she’s almost surprised to have found herself in the wine industry since 2000. After working for a catering company in Oregon’s wine country, she was herself drawn to the cellars of the numerous wineries in the Willamette Valley, and eventually convinced legendary Amity winemaker Myron Redford to give her a shot.
She’s now worked her way up from cellar rat to winemaker for Airlie Winery in Oregon’s Coast Range. And in a state where pinot noir is the dominant variety…and in a business where red wines are often given preferential treatment over their pale cousins…Elizabeth isn’t afraid to unabashedly pledge her allegiance to white varietals, in whose subtlety and variety she finds more intrigue and challenge.
Elizabeth knows blending…and her biggest challenge is Airlie’s Seven, which combines seven different Willamette Valley whites. The goal is a balanced wine where no single variety dominates, and all of the flavors play nice together in an ideal combination of food friendliness and drinkability.
We had a chance to talk about the science of blending for Vino Veritas. Wine is blended for any number of reasons, not just to produce new creations like Airlie’s Seven. On the day that we spoke, Elizabeth was combining different lots of pinot gris. Blending is a painstaking process where science meets instincts, and an Excel spreadsheet is only there to augment the winemaker’s judgement.
Elizabeth’s blog is an approachable and interesting conversation about winemaking where she teaches customers and others in the industry about her craft. Blending is only one of the winemaking processes we hope to cover in the finished film.