Teutonic Wines

Oregon Meets The Mosel Valley

Blame it on the Mosel. Many working in the wine trade will point to one, two, maybe three wines as their lightbulb moment, but for Barnaby Tuttle, it was a tasting of 14 crystalline, mineral-driven German Rieslings. To say he was inspired would be an understatement: Tuttle listed every single wine for the restaurant where he worked.


Yet Tuttle’s epiphany would have further-reaching ramifications than his new wine list. He spent the next few years meeting as many winemakers as possible, peppering them with questions to shore up his scientific knowledge. He planted a test vineyard at his house and made wine as a hobby. He made pilgrimages to the Mosel to learn from those growers who had inspired him.
In 2005, the opportunity arose for Barnaby and his wife, Olga, to plant a vineyard on their friend’s farm just outside the AVA boundary of the Willamette Valley on the eastern flank of the Coast Range. They jumped in with both feet and, come 2008, Barnaby and Olga had quit their day jobs to set up Teutonic wines. Today, they work with several cool, old-vine, dry-farmed, high-elevation sites throughout the Willamette Valley and beyond, making fresh, linear, lithe single-vineyard wines that speak clearly of site, soil and season.


Unlike many in Oregon, and the Willamette Valley in particular, Barnaby and Olga are not constrained by boundaries. They work with many great sites that fall outside the nested AVAs and—in the case of Alsea—even the Willamette Valley boundary itself. “There are so many great vineyards and terroirs labelled as Willamette Valley or even just Oregon,” he says. But if the climate is right, every soil has a story to tell, and I see it as my responsibility to tell the story of that soil, of that site. It’s the vineyard that’s the story at the end of the day.”
Everything at Teutonic begins and ends with the site: first in finding, then farming and finally in gently guiding and developing the singular character of each vineyard and variety into the bottle. Working with passionate and dedicated growers, all of Teutonic’s sources are cool-climate, dry-grown sites farmed either sustainably or organically by dedicated growers. They search for balanced crops with maximum hang time―Barnaby picks incredibly late (Riesling in October!) compared to some of his colleagues―to allow for slower ripening thereby building more complexity at lower sugar levels and higher acidities.


Vineyard yeasts kick-start each fermentation—Tuttle uses a pied de cuve to further instill site-specific biology in the wines. The soils vary, but many vineyards lie on Bellpine soils—a variant of the Willamette Valley’s famous Jory soils—which are rich in iron and have excellent drainage. In the cellar, it’s all about shepherding the quality of the fruit into the bottle. Save for a little sulphur, nothing is added. And it should go without saying that no new wood is allowed to distort the purity of these wild-fermented wines, which are bottled unfined and unfiltered.


The range of white wines includes Riesling, Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner and Pinot Blanc, with mainly Pinot Noir and Meunier for the reds, which are bottled in Alsatian flutes in keeping with Teutonic’s Germanic inspiration. These restrained, stimulating and unadorned wines are a breath of fresh air for the Oregon wine scene and have won the Tuttle family a legion devoted fans in both critical and consumer circles. Teutonic wines can be found on the lists of the finest restaurants in the USA and we hope, in good time, the same can be said of Australia.

Available Wines

Teutonic Alsea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
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Teutonic Alsea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

The Alsea Vineyard is the only coastal vineyard in the northern Willamette Valley. When Barnaby and Olga Tuttle first planted the site in 2005 on their friend's farm, it was met with a good deal of scepticism. Unlike most vineyards in the nearby Willamette Valley (this vineyard lies just outside the AVA’s border), Alsea is on the western flank of the Coast Mountain Range, just 30 kilometres from the ocean. Consequently, it is cooler and wetter than those sites on the eastern side of the range, and for those reasons, most thought it unsuitable for growing grapes. The Tuttles succeeded and have been crafting cool, refined, complex Pinot Noir from this site for 15 years. Alsea is home to Bellpine soils—a variant of the famous Jory soils found in the Willamette Valley— which, coupled with the rainfall levels, facilitate dry farming. No chemicals are used; farming is organic, and the Tuttles use cover crops and seed balls that act as natural fertilisers for the soil. They also keep bees but don’t harvest the honey. The 2016 vintage saw a return to more classic conditions after the three preceding warm years. As is the norm at Teutonic, the fruit was left on the vine for as long as possible before being handpicked, sorted, mostly destemmed and fermented in open-top vessels using a pied de cuve started in the vineyard. After three weeks, the wine is pressed and settled before going to old barrels for maturation. As with all the Teutonic wines, Alsea Pinot Noir is built to last, and we’re pleased to be able to offer some bottle-aged examples from this unique spot. Perhaps Neal Martin summed it up best: “The Pinot Noir from the Alsea Vineyard is certainly great terroir, and a vertical demonstrated its propensity to hit a sweet spot 5-6 years after bottling.” 

Teutonic Alsea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
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Teutonic Alsea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
Added

Teutonic Alsea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

The Alsea Vineyard is the only coastal vineyard in the northern Willamette Valley. When Barnaby and Olga Tuttle first planted the site in 2005 on their friend's farm, it was met with a good deal of scepticism. Unlike most vineyards in the nearby Willamette Valley (this vineyard lies just outside the AVA’s border), Alsea is on the western flank of the Coast Mountain Range, just 30 kilometres from the ocean. Consequently, it is cooler and wetter than those sites on the eastern side of the range, and for those reasons, most thought it unsuitable for growing grapes. The Tuttles succeeded and have been crafting cool, refined, complex Pinot Noir from this site for 15 years. Alsea is home to Bellpine soils, which, coupled with the rainfall levels, facilitates dry farming. No chemicals are used; farming is organic, and the Tuttles use cover crops and seed balls that act as natural fertilisers for the soil. They also keep bees but don’t harvest the honey. The 2015 vintage was warm and bountiful, creating wines of power and presence in the Willamette Valley. But Alsea’s altitude and proximity to the coast went a long way to preserving Teutonic’s cool, refined style. Compared to 2016, you’ll find a touch more weight and structure here. As is the norm at Teutonic, the fruit was left on the vine for as long as possible before being handpicked, sorted, mostly destemmed and fermented in open-top vessels using a pied de cuve started in the vineyard. After three weeks, the wine is pressed and settled before going to old barrels for maturation. Like all Teutonic wines, Alsea Pinot Noir is built to last, and we’re pleased to be able to offer some bottle-aged examples from this unique plot of land. Perhaps Neal Martin summed it up best: “The Pinot Noir from the Alsea Vineyard is certainly great terroir, and a vertical demonstrated its propensity to hit a sweet spot 5-6 years after bottling.” 

Teutonic Alsea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
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Teutonic Borgo Pass Vineyard Pinot Meunier 2022
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Teutonic Borgo Pass Vineyard Pinot Meunier 2022

The Borgo Pass vineyard is located in Monroe in the southern Willamette Valley, north of Eugene and south of Salem. The Pinot Meunier vines were planted in 1985 by Mark Debose and Jan O’Banion on their 17-hectare vineyard, which at the time was already planted to Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Approximately 40% of the vines on the property are over 40 years old, and all are on their own roots. Like Alsea vineyard, Borgo Pass is home to Bellpine soils—a variant of the famous Jory soils found in the Willamette Valley—which are rich in iron and have excellent drainage. The dry-farmed site sits at 140 metres elevation and is organically managed. The fruit was handpicked, sorted, destemmed and fermented in open-top vessels using a pied de cuve started in the vineyard. After four weeks with daily punch-downs, the wine was pressed and settled before going to old barrels for maturation. A lover of great food as well as wine, Barnaby Tuttle made this wine with game in mind. Full of brambly fruits and spice, it will shine even brighter paired with the right wild bird. Pheasant would be a fabulous place to start. 

Teutonic Borgo Pass Vineyard Pinot Meunier 2022
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Teutonic Bergspitze Pinot Noir 2021
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Teutonic Bergspitze Pinot Noir 2021

Bald Peak in the Chehalem Mountains sub-AVA is the Willamette Valley’s highest point. The Laurel Vineyard sits atop Bald Peak at a lofty 381 metres and was originally planted to Pinot Noir in 1981 by owner John Albin for use in his sparkling and rosé programme. When Barnaby Tuttle first approached John to purchase fruit to make the first Bergspitze (mountaintop in German) Pinot Noir in 2009, many considered it a foolish endeavour. Surely the site was too cool and the fruit too lean? Again, Barnaby proved his detractors wrong, crafting an elegant and ethereal Pinot Noir that instantly made waves in the restaurant scene and quickly sold out. In Barney’s words: “It went viral”. It wasn’t just the lofty elevation that drew Barnaby to the Laurel vineyard. The Pinot Noir clone is the Alsatian Coury, brought to the region from Alsace in a suitcase by Charles Coury in 1965. The soils are loamy and volcanic, rich in nutrients and with a unique ability to regulate temperature. The site is dry-farmed and managed organically. As is the norm at Teutonic, the fruit was left on the vine for as long as possible before being handpicked, sorted, destemmed and fermented in open-top vessels using a pied de cuve started in the vineyard. After three weeks with daily punch-downs, the wine was pressed and settled before going to old barrels for maturation. Sitting at a subtle and restrained 12%, the 2021 bursts with bright fruits and elegant, ageworthy structure.

Teutonic Bergspitze Pinot Noir 2021
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"What you have here are cool, pale, low-alcohol, 'transparent' wines that would not look out of place in Alsace or the Jura... They are well-crafted and full of character, and they pass the crucial test that I call: 'Would you refill your glass?'" Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

"Portlander Barnaby Tuttle and his New Jersey-born wife and business partner Olga are rendering some of the most improbable and distinctive wines I’ve tasted from anywhere, as part of a project that only dreams could inspire." David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate

"Barnaby and Olga Tuttle’s wines [are] improbable in almost any respect you can imagine, including deliciousness." David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate

"The Pinot Noir from the Alsea Vineyard is certainly great terroir, and a vertical demonstrated its propensity to hit a sweet spot 5-6 years after bottling." Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Country

USA

Primary Region

Willamette Valley, Oregon

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Owners & vignerons: Barnaby and Olga Tuttle

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