Maysara winery is nestled in the foothills of the McMinnville AVA, in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The Momtazi family is dedicated to biodynamic farming practices. What makes Maysara unique is that there is over 600 feet elevation gain in the vineyards. From the property's lowest point at 120 feet to around 600 feet, the soil is clay and loam based (similar to most of the valley). From 600-780 feet, there is Jory soil (a red earth loaded with iron and mineral deposits). Quite a bit of the McMinnville AVA has this top soil. What makes this part of Maysara's vineyard special is that there's 10 feet of this earth before the base of loam and calcareous sub-soil.
Maysara Wines reflect this commitment to terroir, showing a purity of fruit and earth, that are true to the soils from which they come.
Owner: Moe and Flora Momtazi
Winery Philosophy: Healthy soil and healthy vines will produce superior grapes without the need for extra minerals, chemicals or man-made poisons. The consistent high quality wines made from Momtazi Vineyards’ grapes lead them to believe that their dedication to both their terroir and Biodynamic farming practices are well worth the effort.
On April 1st, 1997, Moe and Flora Momtazi bought 496 (of the now 532) acres of abandoned wheat farm just south of their home in McMinnville, Oregon. Though wild and untouched, Moe’s vision for the Momtazi Estate was born looking out across the thriving hills of land that had been free of chemicals for seven years.
Though using chemicals would have been faster and more economical while building infrastructure and reclaiming the land, not a single one has or will be used throughout the estate. Instead, the ground was turned over multiple times during the summer of 1997 in order to eliminate unwanted plants and weeds while returning the soil to a usable state.
They began planting in March of 1998, with 13 acres of self-rooted pommard pinot noir vines. After months of researching the relationships between specific pinot noir clones, rootstocks and the different soil types found across the estate, over 120,000 plants were grafted in the greenhouses and planted in the vineyard by the end of the summer in 1999.
They believe that 90% of winemaking takes place in the vineyard. Because of this, they have held themselves to a strict form of land use acting as stewards of the land in order to nurture and reap the rewards naturally. Their alternative approach to chemical use is growing a variety of medicinal and dynamic flowers and herbs that they make into compost teas. By steeping into teas, they’re able to harness the beneficial properties of each flower and herb and embody a “from nature to nature” philosophy. As such, their multiple compost piles and Biodynamic preparations are extremely important for their vineyards because the resulting humus is worked into their vineyard in order to achieve long-term soil and vine health.
Varietals Produced: Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Tahmiene Momtazi
Their unique niche in the foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range separates them from valley weather influences providing warmer days and cooler nights with less precipitation during the harvest season. The property has highly diversified soil types consisting primarily of Nekia and Yamhill series, laced with veins of Peavine and Jory. By training their vines to produce between 1.75-2.25 tons per acre, they believe they are getting the best fruit possible from their unique terroir.
Biodynamics is an ultra-organic way of farming stemming from the two words; biological and dynamic. The biological aspect is practiced throughout organic farming and includes; composting, cover cropping, green manuring, cultivation, companion planting and integration of animals throughout the farm. The dynamic effects are extremely important, maybe even more-so than the biological. They include planning and planting by a calendar (i.e. near and far stars), Biodynamic composting, peppering and radionics, along with homeopathy. Therefore, both the biological & the dynamic effects are practiced and implemented.
In Biodynamics the farm is considered a living organism — having its own individuality and soul. As such the farm is believed to be sick if it imports any fertilizer from the outside; therefore being self sufficient is an important part of Biodynamic farming. Soil is considered to be the foundation of agriculture, therefore enriching the soil is an important task. A farmer is comparable to the conductor of an orchestra — bringing all the individual forces and energies into harmony by playing the right notes at the right time.
We distribute our own compost, inoculated with the Biodynamic preparations and distribute it underneath the vines as needed. We have also eliminated the use of minerals which need to be mined from the earth. Instead, we grow a variety of herbs and flowers that have been used medicinally for thousands of years (i.e. Chamomile, Dandelion, Yarrow, Valerian, Horsetail, Stinging Nettle, etc.). We make teas with them to be sprayed either on the foliage (on leaf days) or injected through the irrigation line to the root system (on root days). We apply these teas in homeopathic amounts in order to maintain the vitality and healthy immune system of the plants. Plants do not need to be shocked with penicillin like treatments if they are “brought up” with healthy immunities to pests and diseases.
In the winery, we allow the native yeast found on the grape skins to naturally initiate primary fermentation. No commercial yeast or enzyme use is allowed and we do not adjust acidity or add sugar. The secondary or malolactic fermentation also occurs on its own without any additives.
The McMinnville American Viticultural Area is a sub-appellation of the Willamette Valley, nestled in the Coast Range foothills of Yamhill County that was created in 2005 after a successful petition that began in 2002. The soils found in the McMinnville AVA are primarily made up of both sedimentary and volcanic soils such as loams and silts with an underlying base of basalt. Beneath an average of 20-40 inches of clay and soil, lies hard stone mixed with basalt pebbles and compressed sediment that gives off minerality. It’s this unique soil diversity and the location at the mouth of the Van Duzer corridor that gives the McMinnville Pinot Noirs their dark fruit flavors and spicy earth tones, while allowing whites like Pinot Gris, Blanc and Riesling to attain a bright fruit-forwardness and vibrant acidity.