to our winery explains our choice for the name FORIS. Latin for "out of doors",
foris conveys the mood of the flowing rivers and lush, fir-covered Siskiyou Mountains
which surround our vineyards. We are nestled in the remote Illinois River Valley
of southwest Oregon.
Meet the Winemaker
Hi. I'm Sarah Powell, Winemaker at Foris since
1991. When people meet me for the first time, they are usually surprised that
I am a woman. It's actually not that uncommon in America, where there are about
ten men to every woman in the wine industry. I have traveled extensively through
the wine regions of Europe, and worked in the wine industries of France, South
Africa, and Australia, where women winemakers are truly a rare find, and often
not readily accepted. Great wine is made in many of the world's regions. One of
the reasons I chose to pursue my career in America is because no obstacles exist
for women here. I have also worked in New Zealand, where many women make wine.
Had I discovered that wonderful country and wine industry earlier in my career,
perhaps I would still be there today. The first questions I'm usually asked by
visitors to the winery include:
you a UC Davis grad?" Yes. I first studied viticulture and enology, however,
for one year in Burgundy before attending Davis.
"How did you decide to get into wine?" I was not raised around wine, nor was
it drunk very often by my parents. I discovered my interest in wine quite accidentally,
while living in France. Loving the French language and French history, I went
to Paris (La Sorbonne) to better decide if I should major in these subjects at
the University of Washington. An intended three-month stay turned into two years
of discovering about, studying about and working in wine. The historical context
of wine in ancient and current French history, and its agricultural basis is what
attracted my attention first.
"What brought you to Foris?" An opportunity to work in an undeveloped but
full of potential wine region with people interested in exploring the detailed,
high-end viticulture required to produce great wines. I was also ready to step-up
from assistant winemaker, to making the decisions myself, and most importantly
to have the freedom to explore my creative, artistic feeling and intuition I have
toward making wine.
"What is your favorite Foris wine?" Anything we label as "reserve", or with
a vineyard designation or the name "Siskiyou Terrace". I am given the freedom
here to bottle my favorite wines separately. That's what our top-tier wines are
my favorites! However, I must admit that I am terribly fond of two wines that
we have never bottled as a reserve: Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. And I must
add that our non-reserve Pinot Noir is always absolutely delicious!
"What is your favorite non-Foris wine, or variety to drink?" While there are
some varieties I usually prefer to drink over others, I have to say that the wine's
style and attributes are far more important to me than the variety. My favorite
wines are crafted stylistically to showcase great viticulture. What that means
to me is a high degree of fruit concentration, extract, and ripeness. I vastly
prefer wines with a silky, supple texture, rich aromatics, long flavor, and intrinsic
balance. I do not care for a lot of new oak, but look for wines that express the
grape. Any wine from any variety that accomplishes these attributes with grace
is a memorable drinking experience for me. Those wines are my favorites, and I
have encountered them from most vinifera varieties, and from many winegrowing
"What wine are you the most proud of?" I am not most proud of a single wine,
but rather of the overall consistency of quality across all our wines and the
vintages. This is in no small part due to our growers and their commitment to
viticultural excellence and understanding how best to deal with our growing conditions
in the Rogue Valley - a region I get prouder of every year.
"What is your greatest challenge at Foris?" During my first few years, of
course, my greatest challenges were coming to understand the Rogue Valley's growing
conditions, our growers' sites and soils, and how best to make the wine from those
grapes. After eight years, these challenges are now experiences well accomplished.
I would have to say that my greatest challenge today lies in patiently continuing
the development of our brand, from the ongoing relationship of pursuing quality
with our growers as their vineyards expand, to building the reputation of Foris
by educating people about who we are and why our wines taste unique.