Artesian Winemaker Visits NWA to Celebrate Shared Passion | Arts & Culture
Fayetteville, April 23-25, 2012: Oregon winemaker, Stephen Webber of Montinore Estate, will visit NW Arkansas April 23-25 to share his knowledge of green winemaking techniques and passion for his craft with Arkansas wine enthusiasts. Stephen will discuss the specialized techniques practiced at the Montinore Estate Winery and other aspects of wine making at a Winemaker’s Dinner at Green House Grill on April 23, 6PM in Fayetteville, AR. He will also join wine enthusiasts in a tasting event at Liquor World in Fayetteville on April 24. Stephen plans to complete his visit to NW Arkansas with a trout fishing trip with Bill Walker of WGW Marketing and Greg Mack of TaylorMack Advertising.
Stephen Webber has held the position of White Winemaker at the Montinore Estate winery since 2009. Visiting NW Arkansas for the first time, he is thrilled to take a break from a busy March bottling season for the 2011 Montinore white wines. Webber, who learned his craft in France and Australia, started working at the winery in 2006 and has worked alongside winery owner Rudy Marchesi in the rigorous process of becoming a Certified Biodynamic farm. The Montinore Estate wines are represented in NW Arkansas by WGW Marketing in Springdale, Arkansas.
At the 230 acre vineyard situated in the rich agricultural region of the North Willamette Valley near Portland, Oregon, Stephen practices the “green” winemaking techniques he learned in Australia. Stephen says that, “rather than practice a recipe-style winemaking formula”, using Biodynamic practices has, “taught me to be acutely thoughtful of every step taken in the viticulture and winemaking process and to understand what the ferments are telling you.”
Bill and Karrie Walker, of WGW Marketing are hosting Steven Webber’s visit in an effort to raise awareness and appreciation of green winemaking techniques. “Arkansas is a good market for smaller winemakers,” says Bordino’s Beverage Director and local wine guru, Erin VonFeldt. She adds, “Winemakers know that their product won’t get lost among the big brands carried by the large distributors. We have a handful of people here in NWA, like Bill and Karrie, who have worked really hard to bring these unique wines to NWA. As a result, we have really great wines available."
“People in NWA want to drink more than just Cabernet.” says VonFeldt. Here, she says, “we have sophisticated wine enthusiasts who appreciate small vintners like Montinore Estates that grow grapes using environmentally friendly techniques.” Montinore grapes, as Stephen Webber describes, “are farmed without the use of synthetic fertilizers and spray treatments.” He says that using Biodynamic farming techniques, “the fruit is grown in a responsible manner, beneficial to the environment and expressive of the place where it is sourced from.” He believes that wine drinkers in NW Arkansas will appreciate these techniques that create “the pure fruit and flavors which our wines exhibit, and the unique illustration the wines give of the location in which they were grown.”
Stephen began his chosen career at 19 in his native England. Working with a well-known wine merchant, he soon became fascinated with wines from all over the world, with a particular lean towards the New World, Australia and New Zealand. After obtaining his Wine and Spirit Education Trust Diploma in 1996, Stephen headed to Australia for the 1997 vintage with intentions of returning to the UK after the harvest was over. He stayed on, however, in the far reaches of South Australia to learn Biodynamic viticulture at a small family owned winery, Cape Jaffa Wines. There he took a vintage position and ended up staying until 2001, an adventure that would prove fruitful for his tenure as white wine maker with Montinore Estate.
Following his passion for white wines, Weber continued to train and hone his craft in Alsace, France. He obtained a position, as he describes, “At the most fantastic family owned and operated winery, called Domaine Sipp Mack, in a small village in Central Alsace.” He said that it was, “working with the fruit from decades old plantings of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, seeing the teamwork that knits a French vintage together and tasting the wonderful wines produced, that sealed my love of these wonderful varietals.”
Today Stephen continues his work in Oregon where he monitors the vines and works in the cellar to craft wines like the popular Montinore Estates 2011 Borealis. He says of this year’s work, “our “'Northern Whites' blend of the four white varietals we grow at Montinore continues to impress me as it is blended and expresses itself prior to bottling.” Stephen also has a hand, at Montinore Estate, in the production of some very flavorful and tasty Pinots.
When asked what he has planned for the Winemaker’s Dinner at Greenhouse Grill, Webber replied, “I am looking forward to helping our guests get to know our wines in a more intimate way.” And he plans to discuss winemaking, in general. He shared, “We have just completed some fun blending of our tank and barrel fermented portions of Pinot Gris, and are also excited about a couple of new wines we have made this year-a dry style Muller Thurgau and a White Pinot Noir wine, which promises to be a nice alternative to our current selection of white wines we have available.”