Every year I try to do something new that challenges the way I think about wines in my cellar. I’ve always set out to make wines that could be defined by the word “pretty” and working with Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Chardonnay, that feels like second nature. So in 2021 I decided to try to take a varietal that felt a bit heavier footed and see if I could give it some of the house trademark levity.
“Piume” is Italian for the word, “feather.” It felt appropriate to build the identity of this wine around that characteristic. This is a blend of 60% Merlot sourced from the Rocks District AVA along the Columbia River Gorge and 40% Pinot Noir from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. About half of this blend was a carbonic maceration co-ferment, a process that amplifies fruit characteristics and softens some edges. The remainder was all destemmed to limit tannins. All native ferments. Aged for ten months in neutral French oak barrels.
The label art is massive in real life. It is a collaboration with the person I attribute much of my creativity to as she has always fanned the flames of my ideas over the years. None other than my mom, Paola. We sat over the course of a week during the holidays clipping each and every piece of the feathers and it feels particularly special to share that process with her. It's only fitting to release it on her birthday.
Hi there! My name is Tom Caruso and I'm a winemaker in Oregon's Willamette Valley. I've been around wine my whole life. If I listen closely, I can faintly hear Louis Prima orchestrating the soundtrack to my Italian upbringing. I grew up in South Philadelphia, where, as a young kid, I helped my grandfather make wine using a hand-crank destemmer and basket press. I still have those little machines, though admittedly have upgraded to a larger basket press in my own winery.
I wasn't always a winemaker though. After graduating university in Washington, D.C., I moved to New York to take on the dream of writing. I got a job as a book editor and made it a goal to try new restaurants all the time. That exploration in food (and subsequent wine lists) piqued my interest once more. I worked my first commercial harvest at an urban winery in Brooklyn, enrolled in an intensive sommelier program, and eventually decided to pivot entirely to focusing on wine production on the west coast.
From New York to California and up the coast to Oregon, I've had the opportunity to work with some amazing winemaking and viticulture mentors over the years. In 2017, I started my own project called, Pray Tell. It's an exploration in earnest curiosity--to combine what I know with what I don't--and create wines that align with my own values and exploration. I own every step of the process--from farming decisions to winemaking to cutting out a bunch of little pieces of paper to design the labels.
You're welcome to join me along the way. I'll write a bit and take pictures, but the wines are the real story tellers now.
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