Home Oregon Willamette Wine 2: Meeting Maggie Harrison, Antica Terra, for Melanie

Willamette Wine 2: Meeting Maggie Harrison, Antica Terra, for Melanie


My sister Melanie was able to travel from Alaska in order to attend IPNC 2012. We had time Monday, after the close of IPNC, to meet with Maggie Harrison at the Antica Terra winery to taste through the current vintage barrels, and the current portfolio as well.

Tasting Wines with Maggie Harrison, Antica Terra

“All I can do is look at what’s in front of me, and ask, what is the most beautiful thing I can do right now? Then, take the time in that moment to do it.” –Maggie Harrison

“Chardonnay is a bit of a monster. It has so much to give. When it doesn’t go well, it’s because it went over the top–that year was too warm, too ripe. People seem to look to that over the edge expression of the fruit and then focus on dialing it back. But in this climate, it’s more about any amount of richness we can get. So, [at Antica Terra] we allow the fruit to give what it wants to give. The year we’re able to get too much from the fruit… well, I hope I’m here to see that. I welcome it.” –Maggie Harrison

“Our site, Antica Terra, it is demented. It is intensely rocky, incredibly singular. Not better. Just very particular. It has a message to give every single year–a creature that comes from that place, that is completely distinct. I’ve never been able to work with fruit that has such a unique presentation. I’m not even sure I’m the one that best knows how to work with it. I just happen to be one of the first. It will be a multi-generational thing, hopefully, where someone’s children or grandchildren will make better fruit than I do.” –Maggie Harrison

“What we’re doing here is winning back the part of it that is just based on pleasure…. I want to make wines that are transparent, and wonderful, and clearly pleasurable, and emotional.” –Maggie Harrison

from left: 2009 California Syrah-Lillian, 2010 Botanica Pinot Noir, 2010 Erratica Pinot Noir Rosé, 2010 Aurata Chardonnay

There is a wonderful vibrancy in this chardonnay, with a lightly drying squeeze mouth feel and a body of juiciness. The wine carries an acid mouth pucker, with citrus fruit powder patina, through clean bright juiciness, all harmoniously presenting. This is the Chardonnay Harrison says she hoped she’d make.

The 2010 Aurata Chardonnay will be released in early November 2012.

The Erratica Rosé is made in a slightly unusual manner. Rather than Saignee, or press Rosé, Antica Terra Rosés begin their life in exactly the same manner their Pinot Noir sisters begin. In inspecting the fermenters to see how well they’re progressing, Harrison will select the barrels with a particular style of aromatics, then pull them right before they become red wines. The result is a richer mouth feel along with richer aromatics and flavors.

This 2010 offers a smooth, rich bodied mouth feel, with rose powder accents, herbal notes of dried thyme and sage, fruit of dried blackcap raspberry, and partially dried strawberry, alongside touches of pepper. The 2009 Erratica is mouth watering.

“The wine’s name Botanica relates to ideas of drippy fruit, generosity, depth, richness and texture, to finding those harmonies and where they exist in the bottle.” –Maggie Harrison

The 2010 Botanica offers a berry powder nose, with a fresh berry-earth opening, a berry-earth-herbal mid-palate, and a medium+ juice berry, with pepper finish. There are wonderfully lifted aromatics here above the rich flavors, with a graceful full arc of movement in the mouth.

What Antica Terra wines show throughout–the current releases, and the barrels tasted–is a sense of levity through the aromatics and the structure both, with rich body, and an easy rush of movement over the palate. There is no heaviness in these wines. They want to share their flavors.

The California Syrah, Lillian, was Maggie Harrison’s first wine, started during her tenure as Assistant Wine Maker to Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non. She continues to work directly with White Hawk fruit to produce the Lillian.

The 2009 Lillian California Syrah offers clean, rich red and black fruit, with lightly smoked fruit notes, touches of pepper. The fruit here is balanced with a delicate background of smoke and seitan, and elegant spice. The presentation is buoyant and decisive at the same time.

The 2009 Lillian will be released in early November 2012.


Thank you very much to Maggie Harrison for making time for us. It was lovely to meet you.

Thank you to Megan!

Thank you to Dan Fredman, and to Seth Long!

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  1. What a splendid woman Maggie Harrison is. Such an inspiration; so cool, grounded and brave. Thanks so much for a very soulful and enjoyable read.

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