Gary Andrus of Pine Ridge winery in Napa and Archery Summit winery in Oregon is a strong advocate of Oregon oak.
I thought it would be interesting to have an Oregon Pinot noir aged in Oregon oak barrels.
The results with Oregon Pinot noir impressed Andrus so much that he began using some Oregon oak in his Napa wines and found it a particularly good match with Rutherford Cabernet In the end, he believes he might put up to 20% Oregon oak in his Rutherford Cabernet.
The price of French barrels is hovering at around $600 and has been for some time; American oak barrels start at about $150 or a little less in quantity, and there are a number of price points in between for Hungarian and Czech oak, for Oregon oak and then a whole raft of alternatives.
Asked about Oregon oak, Roberts said that he has done some experiments with it and didn't see any "long term future" for Oregon oak.
The typical growth pattern for what is called Oregon oak - and by the way, there is more of it in California than Oregon - is for the tree to have a short, twisted trunk with a large crown, making the yield of usable material very low.
Freres owns Demptos Napa Cooperage and the company has recently begun operation of a stave mill in Oregon near McMinnville to process Oregon oak.
The Oregon wineries are especially interested in having Oregon oak for their Oregon wines," he said.
He said that he expected the Oregon oak barrels to fall somewhere between French oak and Eastern American oak in quality.
A number of Oregon, Washington and California wineries are taking a close look at Oregon oak and Wall believes there is a good possibility for a quality oak barrel from Oregon oak.
According to Duane Wall of Tonnellerie Francaise, "if Oregon oak
is an interesting product, it will generate an American appellation thought process, that for the present has not been commercially developed as in France.