Part 5: A Husband-Wife Team on the Oregon Wine Trail: The Story of Trathen Hall Wines

 

Oregon Wine Board Art

Yep, there are still a few days left in Oregon Wine Month and, as luck would have it, I’ve got a few more stories from the Oregon Wine Trail Tasting in New York City to share. Today I’m talking about the husband and wife team behind Trathen Hall Wines.

The winery’s name comes from its founders: Blair Trathen and Arabella Hall, who met in Martha’s Vineyard (Arabella’s home) and decided to pursue a life in wine together. Blair comes from New Zealand and that’s where they headed, completing their post-graduate studies in Viticulture and Enology at Lincoln University in Canterbury in 1999.

Their love of wine took them on a worldwide tour, with stops to work in Australia, South Africa, New York and, eventually, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where they decided to settle. In 2009, Trathen Hall Wines was born. Since then, the two have concentrated their efforts on vinifying small lots of Pinot Noir from preferred vineyards.

Both had built up serious winemaking cred before venturing out on their own, though: Arabella worked at Archery Summit, Beaux Frères, Raptor Ridge, Redman, and Scott Paul Wines. Now she manages all aspects of winemaking at Trathen Hall.

Blair also worked at Archery Summit and Beaux Frères, as well as at Hamacher Wines before becoming assistant winemaker at A to Z/Rex Hill. Since 2012 he has been the winemaker for Shea Wine Cellars.

Blair Trethen and Wife from Trethen Hall (3)
Blair Trathen and Arabella Hall of Trathen Hall Wines

The Wines I Tasted

2017 Trathen Hall Chardonnay (SRP $30)

Grapes were sourced from an organically farmed vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains. The wine was 100% barrel-fermented and underwent full malolactic fermentation. Before bottling, the finished wine rested in neutral barrels for 10 months. Just 50 cases of this Chardonnay were made – and it’s not available to purchase via the winery website. Too bad! This wine was gorgeous: ripe apple and pear aromas accented by lemon peel and lime. Plenty of acidity and a saline/mineral quality to it as well. It was clean, crisp, and refreshing. I really hope Trathen Hall plan to make more of it.

2015 Trathen Hall Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (SRP $30)

Trathen Hall 2015 Pinot Label website

Fruit for this wine comes from the Antiquum Vineyard in Willamette Valley and La Chenaie Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills; 20% of the grapes were processed as whole clusters. The finished wine spent about 10 months in neutral oak barrels, imparting richness and complexity without discernible oak influence. Ripe red, blue, and black fruit aromas mingle with earthier notes like autumn leaves and freshly tilled soil. Tannins are smooth; acidity is medium+ making for a well-balanced and very enjoyable wine.

2015 Trathen Hall Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Antiquum Vineyard (SRP $48)

Grapes – including five different Pinot Noir clones – come from the organic, 15-acre Antiquum Vineyard in the southern part of the Willamette Valley. Dry-farmed vines grow at 800 feet above sea level atop well-draining soils of clay loam on a sandstone base. Draft horses plow the fields and transport harvested grapes to the winery; sheep graze between the rows and in grassy areas abutting the vineyards.

The fruit was fermented in 1.5 ton small-lot containers and processed via basket press. The finished wine spent 10 months in neutral French oak barrels before bottling.

Riper and richer than the first Pinot I tasted, this wine had more noticeable aromas of earth and spice mixed in with the raspberry and blackberry notes. There were hints of cocoa and licorice, too. It reminded me of how the kitchen smells just after someone has baked a fresh berry pie. On the palate it felt full-bodied but balanced, with smooth tannins and ample acidity to check the ripe fruit. As delicious as it is now, I imagine this wine will only get better over the next several years. Grab a bottle and see for yourself!

More to Come

I’ve got one more post on the Oregon Wine Trail Tasting. It features a winery that’s revolutionizing the wine scene in Southern Oregon, so stay tuned!

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