S2, Episode 5: Hundred Suns Wine & Johan Vineyards
March 10, 2019
Welcome back to Wine Crush! In this episode, we will talk to two local Oregon winemakers. The first comes from a couple who sought to build a life of adventure in the form of winemaking – the second demonstrates how if a vineyard is treated as an entire living organism, it will best showcase its identity through the fruit it develops.
Grant Coulter & Renée Saint-Amour https://hundredsunswine.com/
When Grant & Renée met over 14 years ago, they agreed on a fundamental idea: building a life together that felt like an adventure. They left California for Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where Grant first worked as assistant winemaker at Hamacher wines and then spent the bulk of 10 years as assistant winemaker and then winemaker at Beaux Freres.
Those ten years were rich. Renée continued teaching high school while Grant gained intimate understanding and appreciation of the soils, climates, and personalities (both land and people) of the valley. They started a family, made good friends, drank beautiful wines, and dreamed of a life that would bring them more together than apart.
In 2015, they sold their house in Portland, scraped together every penny they had, and moved to a fixer-upper in the the valley so they could build Hundred Suns. Eventually, Grant moved on from being winemaker at Beaux Freres to overseeing the vineyards and making the wines for Flaneur Wines, and Renée swapped the classroom for the cellar and running of the day-to-day business. From winemaking, to label design, website building, and even wax dipping bottles by hand, every aspect of this process has our fingerprints on it because it is just the two of us.
In 2018 they bought a 4.5 acre property in the Eola-Amity hills, where an old vineyard is now their children’s backyard. So far it has been a beautiful adventure for them, and they’re just getting started.
Johan Vineyards is committed to meticulous vineyard management practices, highlighted by their Biodynamic farming methods and accents of permaculture design. Biodynamic farming focuses on the entire farm as one living organism. They farm to mimic the natural microbiological ecology of the soil where vines evolved. This produces vines more resistant to disease and creates a healthy natural immune system within the vine.
Johan Vineyards is broken into multiple blocks that feature 13 different varieties, with 10 clones of Pinot Noir & 7 of Chardonnay, multiple rootstocks, across varying aspects and soil types. The combination of all of these factors creates a diverse system, providing those at Johan and the winery customers they work with an array of options to achieve complexity and balance in the resulting finished wines.