Thomas Monroe started Division Winemaking Company in 2010 with Kate Norris, his business partner, and co-winemaker, after attending enology school and learning to make wine in France.
Tom Monroe got his start in banking but was drawn away by the artistry of wine. The unique trifecta of people, science, and art has kept him in wine for the past decade. Playing multiple roles in his constantly evolving day-to-day is one of the elements of winemaking that Tom enjoys most. Tom sat down to talk to us about his point of view on winemaking, its relationship to artistry, and the role of experimentation.
After cutting her teeth working in wine in France, Kate has become a leader in Oregon winemaking. Working closely with organizations, including the Oregon Wine Board and the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, Kate often encourages change and diverges from the path of sameness. Usually found with her sleeves rolled up in her trusty Carharts, Kate’s approach to winemaking is open-minded, constantly evolving, and simple: drink good things with good people.
In a region so well known for Pinot Noir, the challenge is creating a distinct voice that speaks to Division’s vision of this legendary grape. Matching the right approach to the site and vintage is key to their strategy. As in years past, Division approaches the Pinot Noir “Un” cuvée as their opportunity to make a vintage character wine in a lighter, finesse-driven style. It is a Willamette Valley cuvée wine designed to perform well above its price point.
Division’s Pinot Noir vineyards are farmed with a focus on sustainability. Their mission to work with only organically and biodynamically farmed and 100% herbicide-free sites is almost complete, with all but one vineyard hitting their criteria.
The grapes from this label are sourced from a few different vineyards: Cassin Vineyard, Johan Vineyard, Eola Springs Vineyard, Armstrong Vineyard, and Temperance Vineyard.
The vineyards that comprise this wine are located in the Willamette Valley AVA. This area, Oregon’s oldest wine region, is a prime location for some of the world’s best Pinot Noirs. Containing more than 700 hundred wineries, its geographical features make it a hotspot for quality wine. With the Coast Range to the west and Cascades to the east, this valley experiences pleasant seasons – summers are not too hot, winters are not too cold, and spring and autumn are long and lovely. Willamette Valley boasts soils that can be volcanic, sedimentary, and silt based. Between the famous dirt and pristine climate of Willamette Valley, the conditions are perfect for some of the industry’s most delicious grapes and finest Pinot Noirs.
There are notes of strawberry and cherry fruit on the palate, combined with a pie-filling consistency. Despite this bottle containing a mix of grapes from six different vineyards, it comes into focus as a seamless and complete fruit-forward wine. There is a slight smokiness that compliments the rest of the flavors nicely. Tannins are moderate but provide enough back-end texture to boost the overall power.
One noteworthy aspect of this producer is their resilience. 2020 proved to be a challenging year for many, to no surprise. Division Winemaking Company had to pull off a winery move on top of the pandemic and wildfires that plagued the area. 2021 could have been a complete bust, but the region pulled through the effects of the wildfires, and the team pulled through the rest. They even note that 2021 was an especially successful year for harvest, as the grapes matured at a more measured pace than they had in many previous years. Division couldn’t be prouder of this fabulous 2021 Pinot Noir, and frankly, neither could we!