The barrels rooms belonging to Crowley at August Cellars are seemingly bursting at the seams. After making his first two vintages at Cameron while he was assistant winemaker, Tyson Crowley moved production here in 2007 and his barrels are now spread across a couple rooms in the cooperative wine space. I asked Evan Roberts, Tyson’s partner, whether they would start looking for a new space soon and I was surprised and charmed by his answer. Last spring, Tyson traveled in Burgundy and visited with several small producers. Evan explained that even though the team had always had a focus on the vineyard, Tyson’s big takeaway was that because of this, the winery could really look like anything. It seems the Crowley team with continue their terroir-focused 2500 case production exactly where it is for now.
Tyson's aims to go “for pure expressive style above all else,” although he adds a knowing “whatever that it is” to his declaration. He doesn’t sterilize his the barrels and doesn’t add acid sulfur until after malolactic fermentation. The wines can be fragile if they see too much sulfur, but ML adds inherent stability once it’s been completed.
Tyson first got excited about Chardonnay while working at Brickhouse in 2002 and then went to work for John Paul at Cameron. With his own label, he produces two Chardonnays – a Willamette Valley and one from the Four Winds Vineyards in the Coast Range outside of McMinnville. He allows half of the Chardonnays to ferment with native yeasts, but uses Simi and Montrachet cultured yeasts as insurance for the other half. Even though the wine is left in contact with the lees, they are aren't stirred. The wines really reveal themselves over time. The Willamette Chardonnay from 2011, a vintage whose potential with hidden for its first few years, is now at its peak of perfection.
The big focus of the winery is, of course, Pinot Noir. The flagship wine of the label is the Entre Nous, a barrel selection blend of only Pommard and Wadenswil across different vineyards. The 2012 was a blend of the Four Winds Vineyard with Chehalem Mountain fruit from the Laurelhood Vineyard. The previous year had some Dundee Hills fruit in it, but this was bottled on its own as the La Colina Vineyards in 2012. As with the Chardonnay, this really shows beautifully a few years out. The 2011 is complex and layered, while the young 2013 is just starting to show the potential for the future. The Four Winds Vineyard, which is just shy of the McMinnville AVA, is also bottled on its own. Located at 825 feet, the Pommard clone is ownrooted on sedimentary soil. The team is continuing to make great wine and adding vineyards in the future. Next year they will take on some fruit from Westrey’s Oracle Vineyard in the Dundee Hills.