Kelly Kidneigh, winemaker
My philosophy of winemaking has less to do with making and more to do with interpreting what the vintage and vineyard is expressing in the wine.
I came to Oregon in 1998 with the desire to “make” wine not knowing the first thing about it, other than that I loved the ethereal and elegant femininity Oregon Pinot Noir possessed. In the years since, my pursuit of winemaking has guided me through many vineyards, cellars and on to a college degree, but for me the most important and inspiring thing I have learned is to let the vintage and vineyard speak for itself. Therefore I feel it is my job as a winemaker not to “make” the wine, but rather to shepherd the fruit, to watch, smell, taste, and listen and in difficult years to guide it with a gentle and patient hand. I believe wine is made in the vineyard under the direction of nature; I merely try to interpret that expression.
My style or technique is fairly hands off. Any action I take during fermentation and barrel ageing relies on the smell and taste of the fruit and the ensuing wine throughout the process from vine to bottle. I try to pick the fruit when it is optimally ripe as there is a distinct difference in flavors between when the numbers are good and when the fruit is optimally ripe. I work closely with the vineyard manager to achieve both. In Oregon we are usually in a race with time; which will come first, the creamy ripeness I seek or the rains which must fall? Fortunately we have the tools to deal with whatever the weather hands us, but the best vintages are those where we are given the choice as to when to pick rather than being forced by the rain or weather.
For me the temperature during fermentation is the key to aromatics and balanced tannins. I practice short cold soaks, five to seven days, followed by long, low temperature fermentations, typically two weeks in length. As the fermentation begins I keep a careful eye and nose on the tanks and only inoculate with commercial wine yeast when I sense trouble. Cap management is a moment to moment, day by day decision. In total the fruit will spend about a month in the fermentation vessel during its transformation from grapes to wine. Barrel ageing will last sixteen to eighteen months and typically employs 35% new French oak.
Kelly hails from OSU with a degree in fermentation science. In 1998 she began her winemaking career working for wineries such as Eyrie, Lemelson, Torii Mor, Left Coast Cellars, and a few more including some time in Burgundy.