June 23, 2020 |
Meet the Team, Part Six
and the newest addition to the Lingua Franca Team!
Originally from Bend, Oregon, Brandon graduated from the Washington State University with a degree in enology and viticulture. From there he went on to work a harvest in New Zealand and then lived in Casablanca, Chile for a year, where he helped make wine for a small producer specializing in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. After a stint as the Assistant Winemaker at Abacela in Southern Oregon, he relocated to the Willamette Valley to shift his focus to vineyard management. Day to day, Brandon works with Thomas, overseeing the LF Estate and Bunker Hill Estate Vineyards and collaborates with the winemaking team's operations, including blending trials. Like many of us here at Lingua Franca, Brandon is in the Valley to pursue the most elusive of all wine grapes, with charm, character and transparency, Pinot Noir.
What were you doing before you got into the wine industry?
"I decided to pursue working in the wine industry while I was still in college. I spent my first two years of school as a pre-vet, animal science major. At one point I was working two part-time jobs, one on the campus orchard and vineyard and one in a vet clinic. I started to realize that I enjoyed myself a lot more while working out in the orchard, and as soon as I realized that I could get a degree in Viticulture and Enology and build a career in the wine industry, I pursued it full force."
Is there a memorable experience that initially drew you and connects you to this work and lifestyle? "One experience that I think back on a lot was on a trip to visit my mom’s family in the Basque country of Spain. My cousins took us out to dinner one night at a cider house in the countryside. That experience of eating a family style meal next to strangers in the barrel hall and filling our glasses straight out of the foudre has been cemented in my mind as a moment when I fell in love with the craft beverage industry. It has always been the combination of agriculture, artisanship and community that draws me to farming and winemaking."
What do you like doing when you aren’t at Lingua Franca?
"When I’m not at work I really enjoy spending time around McMinnville. It’s been a great community to be a part of for the last several years. There always seems to be a backyard cook-out to attend and amazing wines to try. As much as we can, my girlfriend, Mallory, and I love to spend time backpacking in the Cascades and exploring the Northwest."
What are your thoughts on the LF Estate and Bunker Hill Estate Vineyards thus far in the season, since you’ve begun working on them? "I consider myself pretty lucky to get to be a part of the Lingua Franca vineyard as it reaches maturity. There is still so much to be learned on this site, and it will be exciting to see how each block further differentiates itself in the coming years. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s amazing to be able to be working with older vines at Bunker Hill, especially in such a unique area as the Salem Hills. Each site has its own challenges and I hope to continue farming them in ways that bring out their best qualities."