Les Brebis is a small, family owned winery specializing in Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills.
Les Brebis (“breu-BEE”) means “the sheep” in French… or more accurately, “the ewes” … Pinot Noir is a feminine wine after all. Our last name, Shaffer, means “shepherd” in German. Which is also an accurate description of our winemaking: rather than forcing our wines to do what we want them to do, we try instead to gently guide them away from trouble. Our role is just to keep a watchful eye on them, intervening only when we have to.
We source sustainably grown grapes from some of the best vineyards in this region. Our wines are fermented with native or “wild” yeast – no commercial yeast is added – and aged in small French oak barrels. We don’t add fining agents to our wines and most often we bottle them unfiltered. The resulting wines are both textured and elegant. They are complex wines that express the unique place where the grapes were grown.
The Eola Hills are the source of an increasing number of Oregon’s world class wines. The soils and climate here are perfect for the production of outstanding Pinot Noir. We source all of our fruit from vineyards within the Eola Amity-Hills AVA and the adjacent South Salem Hills. These vineyards vary in size, aspect, soil type, altitude, vine age and clonal selection. They also have much in common – all of them are sustainably farmed using a variety of management strategies that include organic and biodynamic farming practices. They are farmed using little or no chemical fertilizers or herbicides. All of our vineyards are dry farmed (no irrigation of mature vines). No matter what the vintage is like we can count on getting the best possible fruit from our growers.
We often say that our winemaking is more about what we don’t do than it is about what we do. We allow fermentation to start “spontaneously” with the “wild” yeast that is naturally present on the grapes and in the cellar. This gives our wines complexity but it’s not for the impatient – spontaneous fermentations can take up to twice as long as those that have been inoculated with commercial yeast. We do as much of our cellar work as we can by hand. This approach is very low-tech, very traditional and very gentle on the fermenting grapes. It also means a slower extraction of flavors and richer, more complex wines. When fermentation is complete the wine is gently pressed and transferred into barrels where it ages for one year. We use only French oak from some of France’s finest forests and cooperages. We use a relatively small percentage of new barrels because we want the oak to complement our wines, not overpower them. After aging, our wines are bottled without the addition of fining agents. Most of our wines are bottled unfiltered.