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Lingua Franca LLC


Follow along as we post about our favorite recipes, share recordings of our latest webinars and team bios along with seasonal updates of what's happening in the vineyard!



Sam Schmitt
June 15, 2020 | Sam Schmitt

Wine Webinar Wednesday

Session 12 :: Understanding US and European Appellations

Wine has been a significant economic force for many regions in Europe for centuries. Since the 1930’s when the first of the modern appellation systems protecting the geographic boundaries and production methods of economically important wines were established in France, the rest of the world’s wine growing regions have adopted and refined appellation definitions to protect the “brand," the reputations of the regions and in many cases the production techniques that define the wines. However, these rules are far from uniform and can be very confusing — especially within Europe — and sometimes define little more than physical boundaries. 

In this webinar we’ll explore the various European approaches to wine appellations, how to decipher the wine labels that rely on them, and how the US AVA system compares to their European counterparts.

Time Posted: Jun 15, 2020 at 5:00 PM
Hospitality Team
June 6, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part Five



Sam Schmitt 

Director of Operations


If you've joined any of our weekly Wine Webinar Wednesday presentations, you may already be well acquainted with Sam. A native of the Midwest, Sam holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics from Butler University, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Indiana University. 
An avid traveler and wine enthusiast, Sam has explored wine regions throughout Europe and the U.S. His travels ultimately led him to establish roots here in the Willamette Valley and shift his focus exclusively to the wine industry after living in Scottsdale, Arizona, where among other things, he decided to open a wine bar. He has since become a CMS Certified Sommelier, a SWE Certified Wine Educator, and is currently pursuing the WSET Diploma.
"Running the wine bar is what really got me hooked on changing careers to get into the wine industry professionally.”
What were you doing before you got into the wine industry?          "I was a consultant to the global pharmaceutical industry specializing in Sales and Marketing strategy, Clinical Trial implementation, Leadership Development and other professional training programs for about 25 years. Some of that morphed into creating an event production, graphics, and visualization development company for large corporate events. I also founded and ran a wine bar in Scottsdale, AZ in the middle 2000's. Running the wine bar is what really got me hooked on changing careers to get into the wine industry professionally."
What was your "epiphany" wine and do you remember that moment?
"Like it was yesterday! I was having dinner with the partners of the consulting firm I worked for at the time in 1995. The managing partner was a wine guy and he ordered a bottle of 1990 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. Up until that time, my go-to wines were Bartles & James and White Zinfandel! That glass of Caymus set off all kinds of fireworks in my head. I'd never tasted anything that was so exciting and complex. Needless to say, I was hooked and never looked back. Joey Harrington was kind enough to gift me a bottle of 1990 Caymus from his cellar last year — it's now displayed in a place of honor in my cellar at home."
What is your favorite go-to wine accessory at home?
"I couldn’t have completed any of my wine certifications without a Coravin. It’s an indispensable tool for enjoying just a glass without feeling guilty about pulling the cork. High quality glassware is a very close second."
What are you enjoying drinking these days? 
"Having recently visited Spain, I’m drinking a lot of Rioja and Ribera del Duero right now. We visited quite a few bodegas while we were there, but the two standouts were Marques de Murrietta in Logroño, Rioja and Vega Sicilia in Ribera de Duero. Murrietta’s 2015 Rioja Reserva and our 2018 Lingua Franca Estate Chardonnay have gotten a lot of 'glass time' since we’ve returned."
Time Posted: Jun 6, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Sam Schmitt
June 4, 2020 | Sam Schmitt

Wine Webinar Wednesday

The Geologic History of the Willamette Valley and its AVAs

Winegowing in the Willamette Valley began just 55 short years ago when David Lett planted the first vineyard in the nascent volcanic soils of the Dundee Hills. From these humble beginnings the Willamette Valley now boasts more than 590 wineries and over 750 vineyards with more than 24,000 acres under vine. In this time the Willamette Valley was formally established in 1984 followed by several nested AVAs in the early 2000’s with the most recent addition just last year.

In this webinar we will discuss the geologic history of the Willamette Valley, the geologic events that have shaped the area, the history of the wine region and take a tour of the nested AVAs and discuss their individual terroir characteristics and influences on the grapes and wines.

Time Posted: Jun 4, 2020 at 12:00 PM
Hospitality Team
May 29, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Poulet Gaston Gerard Recipe

"My favorite dish to pair with the 2017 Bunker Hill Chardonnay is Poulet Gaston Gerard — a classic Burgundian chicken dish served in a sauce of white wine, Dijon mustard, crème fraîche and grated comté." - Thomas Savre, Winemaker
Poulet Gaston Gerard

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  • 4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium White Onion, Halved and Sliced into Ribbons
  • ½ Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Cup of Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 8 Ounces Crème fraîche or Sour Cream
  • 6 Ounces Grated Comté or Gruyère Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Sprig of Thyme (optional)
  • Sliced, Warm Baguette

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Pat the chicken breasts with a paper towel to remove surface liquid, and then season both sides of the breast generously with salt and pepper
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet until simmering, then add the chicken breasts and brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side
  4. Remove chicken from the skillet and place in a baking dish
  5. In the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil and the onion slices and sauté until slightly translucent
  6. Add the white wine, crème fraîche, mustard, thyme and paprika, stir until combined and slightly bubbling
  7. Pour over the sauce over the chicken breasts in the baking dish and top with the grated cheese
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165° F
  9. Serve immediately with a basket of baguette slices
Photo credit: The Good Life France
Time Posted: May 29, 2020 at 11:00 AM
Hospitality Team
May 22, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part Four


Kim Abrahams



Kim joined Lingua Franca as Assistant Winemaker in early 2017. Born and raised in Louisiana, Kimberly made the decision to pack up and move west as a recent business school graduate after a stint working in the wine distribution world. "There, I was introduced to the vast world of wine, spirits and beer. Wine grabbed my attention and it never let go." Her newly found passion led her across the country and around the world, before she landed here in Oregon. 
"Everything at Lingua Franca is a group effort, we look to all members of the winemaking team for input on our wines."
In the beginning, Kim did it all, from helping to establish systems, to packing, shipping and delivering wine, to hosting tastings, all while getting to know our vineyards and wines. Over the years her role has evolved. She now helps manage our growing winemaking team and assists with day to day operations with Winemaker Thomas Savre's direction. During harvest Kim begins with a laser focus on our Chardonnays, and once they are all happily fermenting, she quickly shifts over to Pinot Noir.
"We are continually improving and getting to know our vineyards more and more each year. I spend a lot of my time in the vineyards, and in the beautiful green spaces surrounding the winery, which we hope to call 'the farm' one day."
Kim also tends to our four new beehives. We have partnered with Jacobsen Salt's beekeeper, Emily Schmiedel, through their Bee Local program to learn sustainable beekeeping and begin harvesting our own estate honey next year.
"I am proud that here at Lingua Franca we are contributing to saving the bees! I look forward to the day we are able to harvest honey but for now I am appreciating them buzzing about, collecting pollen and watching all the new baby bees emerge."
What are you enjoying drinking these days?  "Needless to say there is always wine on the table. Recently it’s been a lot of Jolie-Laide Wines out of Sebastopol, California. The Trousseau Gris and Melon de Bourgogne are incredibly tasty and go with just about anything we’ve cooked for the evening. My husband is also a winemaker, so we do a lot of blind tasting around the dinner table, sometimes classic wines and sometimes obscure varietals. Our nightcap is Domaine Roulot L’Abricot, Apricot Liqueur. It will change your life . . . Trust me."
What do you like to do when you’re not at Lingua Franca? 
"There are two places you can usually find me when I'm not at work: in my garden and roaming the coastal range for mushrooms, always accompanied by my pup Cedar Roux. Gardening pushes me to be more patient and creative, every year something succeeds and something fails. I have a tendency to go all in; I’ve currently got twenty-five different types of tomatoes waiting to go into the ground.
"The bounty of the Pacific Northwest is all-giving when you find the right spot. That feeling of finding a patch of chanterelles — pure excitement, where nothing else matters in that moment. I like to call mushroom hunting adult treasure hunting, though it always makes me feel like a kid again. The meals to follow are always mind blowing and a reminder that nature provides for us when you allow it to.
Time Posted: May 22, 2020 at 12:02 PM
Sam Schmitt
May 22, 2020 | Sam Schmitt

Wine Webinar Wednesday

Italy's Killer B's: Brunello, Barolo and Barbareseco

This week we’re taking a trip to Italy to explore some of the most prestigious wines in the world, wines I like to call Italy's "Killer B's" --  Brunello, Barolo, and Barbaresco.  

In this webinar we'll explore the rich and complex history of these wines, the strict Italian production laws that govern them, the production methods that make these wines so special.

Time Posted: May 22, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Sam Schmitt
May 14, 2020 | Sam Schmitt

Wine Webinar Wednesday

Tiny Bubbles: The History and Production of Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine is synonomous with celebrations and good times… but that wasn’t always the case. Originally called “Le Vin du Diable” (“The Devils Wine”), medieval monks gave it this name due to its explosive nature - literally! In fact, Champagne as we know it today was not really invented in Champagne — it was a actualy more of a “consolation prize” after losing the Paris market to its rivals in Burgundy. What a difference a few hundred years makes as today we use sparkling wine to toast to our health, prosperity and good times!

In this webinar we will explore the origins and history of sparkling wine, dispel some long standing myths about Champagne’s origins, and explain the differences between Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, and a few other sparkling wines from around the world and why we can’t universally call sparkling wine Champagne.

Time Posted: May 14, 2020 at 8:00 AM
Hospitality Team
May 9, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part Three


Joshua Wludyka

Director of Trade Sales

and Lingua Franca’s first intern, who assisted Thomas and the winemaking team during our first vintage in 2015.


An interest in food and hospitality motivated Lingua Franca's Director of Trade Sales, Josh Wludyka, to take an entry level position at Charlie Trotter's eponymous restaurant in Chicago, IL as he completed his degree in Economics.  With this first step into the world of fine dining and hospitality he was hooked.  Eventually, he worked his way up to the wine team working closely with Larry Stone for the first time and also oversaw Charlie's exclusive Chef's Kitchen Table experience.  Although he says he had limited knowledge of wine when he met Larry, it quickly grew into a passion and led him to develop a deep curiosity into the business of wine and wine production.
Following Charlie Trotter's retirement and the closing of his restaurant, Josh moved to the Cayman Islands where he opened a cocktail bar and became one of Diageo’s Top 100 Bartenders in the world. Later, he captured the crown as Food & Wine’s Cayman Cookout Champion - TWICE!  In late 2017, at Larry’s urging, Josh joined the Lingua Franca team and now oversees Lingua Franca's national and international distribution activities.
"I love to cook, and I love to make pizza. A great friend of the winery, Junichi Fujita, gave me a piece of his sourdough starter which he brought from the great Jura winemaker, Pierre Overnoy. I've been making all types of breads and pizza doughs lately.”

What is your favorite go-to wine accessory at home?
"I'm kind of hardcore, so I actually think Larry's go to wine key, the Cartailler-Deluc Super Professional Model 92 corkscrew we use at Lingua Franca, is really the only tool you need. I don't really believe in many fancy gadgets, just a well-built wine key with a sharp blade. I also like to collect decanters, so I think everyone should have a cool one — wine looks so beautiful in a vintage decanter on a candle-lit table."
What do you like doing when you aren’t at Lingua Franca?
"I love to cook, and I love to make pizza. A great friend of the winery, Junichi Fujita, gave me a piece of his sourdough starter which he brought from the great Jura winemaker, Pierre Overnoy. I've been making all types of breads and pizza doughs lately. I travel a lot for work, so in this COVID time I picked up a keyboard. I really love Chopin. I played when I was a kid, but I haven't touched a piano since I was old enough to rebel against my parents. I've also been quite enjoying taking hikes with my girlfriend Christina and our golden doodle, Nala."
Time Posted: May 9, 2020 at 10:30 AM
Sam Schmitt
May 8, 2020 | Sam Schmitt

Wine Webinar Wednesday

From One Grape to Many - The Pinot Family Tree

Pinot noir is one of the oldest known wine grape varieties and has a vast family tree. In this webinar we will explore the history of Pinot Noir, its "love affair" with an obscure grape known as Gouais Blanc, and the many grapes that now trace their lineage to this noble grape of Burgundy.

Time Posted: May 8, 2020 at 7:00 AM
Sam Schmitt
May 1, 2020 | Sam Schmitt

Wine Webinar Wednesday

The Renaissance of Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley

In the 1960's, the founders of the Willamette Valley imagined a new frontier for cool climate grape varieties -- in particular Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay. While Pinot Noir became a virtual overnight sensation and Riesling a wine-culture darling, Chardonnay languished and almost became a footnote in the Willamette Valley wine story, over taken by the easy going Pinot Gris. Why did Chardonnay struggle while Pinot Noir soared and what was behind its astounding revival?

This webinar explores the early history of the Willamette Valley while we uncover Chardonnay's sordid past and its triumphant comeback. Whether you are a Chardonnay fan or a practicing ABC wine enthusiast (anything but Chardonnay), this webinar will help you understand the role of terroir & clones, and how they contribute something truly unique and special to Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley.

Time Posted: May 1, 2020 at 3:00 PM
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