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Kramer Vineyards

Kimberley Kramer
June 21, 2023 | Kimberley Kramer

The Art of Evaluating Pinot Noir in the Barrel

As passionate winemakers at Kramer Vineyards, we always focus on bringing out the most authentic expression of the fruit we grow in our estate vineyard. Barrel aging is pivotal in this pursuit, offering many benefits that enhance and complement our wines. 

At Kramer Vineyards, our barrel selection and aging regime are meticulously crafted to ensure that the barrels serve as vessels for aging and act as partners in the winemaking process. After all, we don't grow and make barrels; we grow and make wine!

The use of oak barrels in aging Pinot Noir presents various advantages that contribute to the wine's ultimate expression and exceptional quality. Let's delve into some of the key benefits:

Enhanced Complexity

The interaction between Pinot Noir and carefully selected French oak barrels introduces subtle nuances and flavors that add depth and complexity to our wines at Kramer Vineyards. Each barrel, with its unique characteristics influenced by the forest, tightness of the grain, and the cooper's building and toasting techniques, contributes to the wine's distinct personality.

Softened Tannins

With time, the tannins in young Pinot Noir wines gradually integrate and mellow in the barrel, resulting in a refined and harmonious mouthfeel. This transformation enhances the overall drinking experience, allowing you to appreciate the wine's intricate nuances fully.


Improved Structure

Barrel aging allows the wine to develop a well-defined structure with a perfect interplay of acidity, tannins, and fruit. Our Pinot Noir wines, crafted in the terroir of Willamette Valley, reflect this balanced structure that enables graceful aging.

Flavor Development

Barrel aging allows Pinot Noir to undergo a controlled and beneficial oxidation process, intensifying and refining its flavor profile. This is separate from faulty oxidized wine, which results in undesirable flavors and loss of freshness; the slow oxidation in the barrel contributes to the wine's complexity and depth. It reveals a broader range of fruit flavors, subtle spice notes, and captivating oak influences. Each sip becomes a sensory journey through the evolving layers of flavor, showcasing the remarkable transformation that occurs during the barrel aging of Pinot Noir. 

Textural Elegance

The barrel aging process imparts Pinot Noir a luxurious and velvety texture, enhancing its overall elegance and mouthfeel. At Kramer Vineyards, we strive to create wines with a polished and sophisticated character that lingers on the palate.

Integration and Balance

Extended aging in the barrel allows the various components of the wine to integrate and harmonize, resulting in a beautifully balanced expression of flavors, aromas, and structure. This meticulous process ensures that each Kramer Vineyards' Pinot Noir bottle delivers an exceptional and harmonious wine experience.

Pinot Noir is a Wine that Rewards Patience

Patience is vital when evaluating a barrel of Pinot Noir. During the early months, the wine exhibits vibrant primary fruit flavors with acidity and tannins that may initially seem disjointed. However, a magical transformation occurs as the wine "winters over" and undergoes malolactic fermentation.

Malolactic: it's Fantastic

Malolactic fermentation, where beneficial bacteria convert sharp malic acid into smoother lactic acid, softens the wine's acidity and enhances its complexity, mouthfeel, and perception of tannins. This process gradually shapes the wine, unlocking a rounder and more integrated character and showcasing a stunning depth of flavors.
At Kramer Vineyards, we understand the significance of each barrel in shaping the aging Pinot Noir. The unique characteristics influenced by the terroir of Willamette Valley, the cooper's craftsmanship, and the evolution with each fill contribute to the wine's complexity and depth.

As barrels are reused, they lose their potency, imparting fewer flavors and tannins to the wine. This aging tradition adds depth and complexity to our wines, requiring us to carefully consider the number of fills for each barrel to maintain the desired balance.

When the wines have completed malolactic fermentation and settled back into the barrel for further aging, it marks a pivotal moment in their development. This is an opportune time for us as winemakers to assess their qualities and draw connections to past vintages, guiding our blending decisions to ensure the final expression of the wine aligns with our vision.



Through the meticulous evaluation of Pinot Noir during its barrel aging journey, we can determine how to serve the wine best as we head toward bottling. Each barrel holds the potential to reveal unique characteristics that showcase the terroir of Willamette Valley. Join us at Kramer Vineyards as we invite you to experience the art of evaluating wine in the barrel, appreciating its benefits and extraordinary expression of this captivating grape variety.

Barrel Tasting Pinot Noir at Kramer Vineyards

If you'd like to schedule a barrel tasting at Kramer Vineyards, please get in touch with us for more information or to book your tasting experience. Email us at


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