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The determination of two fourth-generation farmers to hold onto their family’s property and keep it from becoming a housing development inspired the birth of August Cellars in 2002. “The land here is so beautiful,” Tom Schaad explains. “We wanted to protect it from urban development, so we built a state-of-the-art winery and started making wine.”
Tom’s brother, Jim Schaad, is the winemaker and Tom does just about everything else. Their 16,000-square-foot winery was opened to the public in November 2004. It was masterfully built into a hillside around a gravity-flow system, with production facilities on the top two floors and barrel rooms on the bottom. This way, the barrel rooms are naturally cooled by the earth and the wine moves naturally, without the turbulence of pumps. The winery currently bottles its own Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Maréchal Foch.
They also engage in an alternating proprietorship with several other wineries. This creative arrangement allows several very small boutique wineries (who bottle as few as 300 cases annually) to use August Cellars’ equipment and facility. “It’s a win-win situation,” Tom says. “The wineries get to work in a great facility and we offset the costs of owning and running the winery building.”
The arrangement is also an example of how important being a good neighbor is to the Schaad family. Another example is out in the field. Jim and Tom’s father and aunt currently manage the 42-acre farm that is currently planted with English walnuts, Italian prunes, and Pinot Noir. But it’s not August Cellars’ Pinot Noir. “We’re leasing acreage to two other wineries and they’re growing Pinot Noir,” Tom explains. “They have 20-year leases, so when their leases expire, we’ll have 20-year-old Pinot Noir vines.”
With the future of their farm and winery, and the welfare of other Willamette Valley wineries in mind, August Cellars has found some creative solutions while producing a nice portfolio of flavorful, affordable wines.
This article has been provided compliments of Touring & Tasting magazine.