Brian Smith and the winery
Hello, my name is Brian Smith and I am the winemaker at Oyster River Winegrowers. I have a traditional education in winemaking from Fresno State University, but I use that knowledge base to make distinct wines in ways that may have been common in pre-industrial times. I believe my 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 any 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 I enjoy making wines with grapes from other regions that inspire me.
The fruit and the farm
Our farm consists of small vineyards and orchards, pastures, and forest. The grapes we have planted are 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 cow supplies the fertility for the pastures, orchards, vineyards, and vegetable gardens in addition to milk, yogurt, cheese and meat for our family. For the first seven seasons, our vineyards were cultivated entirely by draft horse power and by hand. In 2017 we said a bittersweet goodbye to our horses as we anticipate exciting changes on the horizon. We continually strive to have our farm be a self-sustaining ecosystem.