At a bar in San Francisco in 1998, Erica Orr met winemaker Aaron Pott, who convinced her to leave her lab tech job at UCSF to work the harvest with Cathy Corison; she was immediately hooked. In the following years, Erica honed her craft working at some of the best wineries in the world: Domaine Dujac, Rudd Estate, Cain Vineyard and Yering Station. In 2005, she settled in Washington to started an independent winemaking consulting and enology business, where she continues to help great wineries rack up 90+ point scores and Wine Spectator accolades (Baer, Mark Ryan , Guardian Cellars, Sparkman).
In 2013, Erica sourced neglected fruit from heritage vineyards to create a wine all her own. Finding and sourcing a small parcel of Chenin Blanc, in 2013 Erica released the inaugural and limited release of Orr Wines– 116 cases of old vine Chenin Blanc. The wine is a blend of two old vineyards, Rothrock vineyard in the Yakima Valley of Prosser, and Upland vineyard on Snipes Mountain in Sunnyside. Rothrock was planted in 1970 and is a south facing site, 855 feet above sea level with a 15% slope. The shallow topsoil is very fine sand and silt loam on top of basalt bedrock. Upland has incredibly wild and diverse soils. Owned by the Newhouse family this parcel of Chenin Blanc was planted in 1979 on a 25% slope, 1000 foot elevation, facing southwest with a nice view of Mt. Adams.
The Chenin Blanc grapes are always hand-picked and whole cluster pressed. The juices settle in tank overnight and are racked clean to fill neutral old French oak barrels and stainless steel drums. Nothing is inoculated – the nuanced dynamics of native yeast fermentations add complexity. After the sugar has completely fermented, SO2 is added to prevent malolactic fermentation. Lees stirring lends fullness and body to the mouth. In the spring, the wines from the two vineyard lots are blended together, lightly fined and filtered before bottling. Natural corks are used, each one screened for TCA and other off-aromas by Portacork’s “dry soak method”.
Massanois is incredibly excited to welcome this talented, young winemaker to its portfolio with the release of the second vintage of Orr Wines Chenin Blanc – 2014. We can’t wait for you to taste these excellent and singular Washington State wines.