Brian Smith is the winemaker at Oyster River Winegrowers. He has a traditional education in winemaking from Fresno State University, and uses that knowledge base to make distinct wines in ways that may have been common in pre-industrial times. He believes his role in the winemaking process to be more nature's assistant than winemaker. Our winery is very low tech. We use no refrigeration in our winemaking process and our winery is just very gently heated through the winter with wood harvested from our farm. Most of our fermentations start spontaneously with native yeasts that occur on the fruit and in the cellar, and play out over the course of several months. We add nothing and take nothing away from the natural chemistry of the fruit. No acidulation, deacidification, chaptalization, amelioration, tannins, enzymes, or yeast nutrients are used. All of our ciders and our sparkling wines are bottled without the addition of sulfites and are not filtered. Our still wines are minimally sulfited and filtered gently where necessary. Our farm supplies the fruit for Chaos, our homegrown traditional method sparkling wine, and a good portion of our cider. In addition to these products, Brian enjoys making wines with grapes from other regions that inspire him.
THE FRUIT AND THE FARM
Our farm consists of small vineyards and orchards, pastures, and forest. The grapes we have planted, La Crescent and Vidal Blanc, are cold hardy French-American hybrids and are planted densely at 6 feet by 6 feet. They are destined for our traditional method sparkling wine, Chaos. Our Cider apples are all grafted to standard Antonovka rootstock and planted 30 feet by 30 feet. We graze the orchard floor with our livestock and use only organic management practices on our farm. To control pests (primarily fungus), we use plant based teas and rock minerals with the intention of plant health. Healthy plants are resistant plants, and they make the best quality fruit. Farming without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers is the way of the past and the way of the future. Harvest is always done by hand. Our family cows supply the fertility for the pastures, orchards, vineyards, and vegetable gardens in addition to milk, yogurt, cheese and meat for our family. We strive to have our farm be a self-sustaining ecosystem. For our first seven seasons, our vineyards were cultivated entirely by draft horse power and by hand. In 2017, after much deliberation, we decided to say farewell to our horses Fred and Don, to effectively meet the growing demand for our wines. Wild discoveries and adjustments occur daily as we strive to bottle the best expressions of our region. We thank all our fans who are along for the ride.