Alexana WineryPortrait of a winemaker

Discover the history of Alexana Winery, its wines, passions & savoir-faire. Anna Caidan is in conversation with Bryan Weil, winemaker at Alexana Winery in Oregon.
2020-09-01
Wine Story

What could you tell me about Alexana Winery?

‘Alexana Winery is a beautiful gravity flow winery on an 80-acre property in the Dundee Hills of Oregon that is planted to 56 acres of grapes with most of it being Pinot Noir and smaller amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. It is an extremely diverse vineyard with 18 soil types and 11 different clones of Pinot Noir planted. The vineyard is managed to the highest level of quality and it’s the same quality focus when it comes into the newly built state of the art winery. Alexana has been making wines since 2006 and will be celebrating its 15-year anniversary this vintage!’

What is the secret to making your wines?

‘I don’t believe there’s really a secret to making our wines. When you have an amazing vineyard, a great winery facility, French oak barrels (mostly neutral), and a highly skilled staff you’re setup for success. Our goal as a winemaking team is to get the wines through the process safely and soundly and try to be as gentle and minimal as possible to let the Pinot Noir shine. When you have great grapes, our job is to just not mess them up and let the vineyard, vintage show.’

What is your favourite step in the winemaking process?

‘I love harvest! It’s the most tiring and stressful time of year but is truly where the wines are made. There are so many decisions that go into winemaking and harvest has the bulk of them. It’s such a fast-paced time and is always so exciting because each vintage is different in Oregon and we have to react and adjust in real time to make the best wines possible. We only have one shot at making these wines each year so it’s really satisfying when you work so hard during harvest and make great wines and then you get to enjoy those wines for many years to come and remember that harvest.’

What is your best memory since working at Alexana?

‘I’ve been very fortunate to have been hired at Alexana before the new winery was built and I was able to be a part of every aspect of building a winery from the ground up. It’s been so fun to watch our brand grow and be more and more successful over the years and know that I’ve been a part of that with the amazing team that we have on all sides of our business. It was also really fun to be an integral part of building our sister winery in the Uco Valley of Argentina.’

… and your most challenging moment?

‘I don’t think there’s been just one challenging moment that sticks out. I believe there are always challenges in winemaking and the engineer in me loves to determine the best way to overcome any and all challenges that may present themselves.’

How would you define your wines in three words?

‘Elegant, Fresh, Complex.’

How do your wines differ from others in the region?

‘The vineyard we have here is so diverse that it makes for a really special wine that I feel is very different than our other Dundee Hills neighbours. The fact that our vineyard has a multitude of volcanic and sedimentary soils makes for a very complex wine without the winemaking team having to do much with the wines in the winery. When you add the 11 clones that we have to the mix it makes it really easy to make very distinct and beautiful wines.’

How are your wines best served?

‘The ex-chef in me always loves to see these wines served with food and luckily Pinot Noir can pair with almost anything. These wines are also very easy drinking wines by themselves and can be enjoyed in many different settings. I just enjoy seeing people happy when they try our wines. It’s the biggest satisfaction we get!’

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