When Chris Hermann started 00 Wines of Willamette Valley, Oregon, with his late father Richard Hermann in 2013, he did not foresee the growth and recognition the small family business would soon receive.
The passion project began with five barrels of pinot noir – the first batch of an experimental vintage, followed by a widely released vintage in 2015.
Then in 2019, the family business experienced its first industry triumph. In a ranking of more than 3,000 American wines, James Suckling recognised one Oregon chardonnay on its annual list of Top 100 USA Wines of 2019 – the 2017 Willamette Valley Eola-Amity Hills Freya Hermann Cuvée.
“We feel we have the opportunity to be in the pantheon of iconic great chardonnays of the world.” – Chris Hermann
Describing its “wild, reductive, flinty aromas, and notes that the wine hits the sweet spot of great, modern chardonnay winemaking”, the Willamette Valley chardonnay featured at number 35.
The recognition propelled the wine producer into the global market of luxury wine. In a statement, Chris says the accolade further cements the winery’s mission to establish luxury quality wines in Oregon and push the limits of chardonnay in the region.
“There has not been a truly internationally successful small production ultra-luxury family owned wine business based in the Willamette Valley,” Chris explains.
“00 Wines has experienced exponential growth in the last year, garnering top reviews from wine critics and enthusiasts, and gaining a loyal following of wine club members from around the world.
“Our model borrows from the early European luxury houses run by small families including Krug, Bollinger and the small luxury estates of Burgundy.”
00 Wines also uses the black chardonnay production technique – a method practised over the last 100 years in Burgundy, which intentionally uses oxidation.
“Once the Chardonnay grapes are pressed no sulfites are added so the juice in the press pan immediately oxidizes turning a dark brown colour. The turbid juice, rich in suspended solids, goes directly into French oak barrels without any settling or racking,” Chris shares.
“The result of black chardonnay making for 00 Wines creates a savoury and complex American-made chardonnay with maximum tannins extracted from the grape skins.”
“Wine is a globally consumed beverage that all can enjoy, and we love being a part of something that universally unites people.” – Kathryn Hermann
Moreover, as a producer of luxury chardonnay, Chris highlights that while the best chardonnay has essentially been tackled in the old world, the Willamette Valley has access to the best chardonnay in the entire world.
“00 Wines intends to push the boundaries and produce the best high-quality chardonnay in the new world through old-world methods,” he tells The CEO Magazine.
“We feel we have the opportunity to be in the pantheon of iconic great chardonnays of the world.”
One of the highlights for the vineyard was its 2017 Corton-Charlemagne, produced in partnership with 00 Wines’ international team of winemakers from the cool climate regions of Burgundy and Champagne that are directly involved in the farming of the grand cru sites.
The 2017 00 Corton-Charlemagne showcases the terroir of the Hill of Corton through the flavours, mineral tension and dense texture, resulting in a structured wine with a long finish.
“We use our passion to create a fine quality product that we are able to ship all over the world to people, and it makes them happy,” Proprietor Kathryn Hermann notes.
“We are allowed the opportunity to work cross-culturally with our international team of winemakers in France, and with wine club members from across the world in places such as Scandinavia and Asia.
“Wine is a globally consumed beverage that all can enjoy, and we love being a part of something that universally unites people,” she says.
Like many wineries during the pandemic, sourcing labour, maintaining a socially distanced harvest and winemaking space, and the inability to travel has had a considerable impact.
00 Wines also shares a winemaking space with 16 other vintners at the Carlton Winemaking Studio, therefore, a potential outbreak of COVID-19 could cause substantial repercussions to numerous wineries.
The travel restrictions have also caused much disruption for the bi-continental wine producer. 00 Wines has three winemakers who usually travel between the US and France to taste test and do blending. However, since there is no travel this year, tastings were all done by Zoom.
“We increased our DTC international program and now have wine club members in at least five different countries,” Kathryn adds. “We are currently working with FedEx to coordinate the ability to ship directly to consumers.”
There is much planned for the future of 00 Wines. Kathryn says the company is looking to expand its French programs in the near future, specifically its Grand Cru Champagne project.
“We are also looking to be ahead of the curve when it comes to delivering fine wines to customers all around the world from our headquarters in Willamette Valley, Oregon.”
Join the 00 Wines club
Early this year, 00 Wines celebrated the launch of its Very Good Wine Club for collectors and enthusiasts of rare chardonnay and pinot noir.
The club grants members access into the realm of winemaking and luxury wine experiences, and provides access to exclusive wine benefits that range from special pricing, private tastings and access to exclusive releases.
Additionally, all participants receive access to member-only wines, including single-vineyard micro-lots and French wines.
“The Very Good Wine Club is an opportunity to provide personalised programming that fits the needs of our distinguished customers,” Kathryn emphasised in a statement.
“As a family-owned and operated business, we know the value of relationships, and look for any opportunity to interact, build friendships and get to know our collectors directly.”
The Very Good Wine Club memberships
Amphora Pinot Noir Membership
The membership is priced at US$425, which excludes taxes and shipping fees. It includes six bottles of 2018 VGR Pinot Noir sent in the Northern Hemisphere autumn.
Black Chardonnay Membership
For US$479 excluding shipping and local taxes, wine enthusiasts will be treated to three bottles of 2018 VGW Chardonnay and three bottles of 2018 EGW Chardonnay (Extra Good White) shipped in the Northern Hemisphere spring.
For US$497, taxes and shipping fees excluded, members will receive two bottles of 2018 VGR Pinot Noir, two bottles of 2018 Shea Pinot Noir and two bottles of 2018 Hyland Pinot Noir in the Northern Hemisphere autumn.