Big Table Farm is one of the hottest wineries in Oregon. They are so popular, all tasting appointments at their Carlton Atelier are already booked through the end of the year. They sell out most wines within 3-6 months of each release. And after tasting through their lineup this summer, we understand why. Thankfully, some of the outstanding Fall 2021 releases are still available, although you’ll have to move quickly. Read on to learn about talented winemaker Brian Marcy, his artist wife, farmer and co-founder Clare Carver, and their beautiful wine.
Big Table Farm Story
In 1996, Brian Marcy worked his first harvest in Napa Valley, where he spent 10 years in the wine industry. In addition, he joined harvest in Australia at Trevor Jones Fine Wines. Ten years later, Brian and Clare moved to Oregon from Napa. Following their dream, Brian crafted their first 150 cases that same year. He is now considered one of the top winemakers in Oregon. Meanwhile, Clare Carver is a professional artist and award-winning wine label designer. For example, the San Francisco Chronicle named her work on its list of America’s top ten wine labels. She draws unique labels, like this grapevine on the 2018 Funk Estate Syrah, which we brought home with us.
Clare also partners with Brian to market the wine. For instance, she publishes a seasonal collection of recipes, farm tips and their story, which will become the core of a Big Table Farm book. As well, Clare manages their 70-acre farm, which includes the winery, a barn, cattle, chickens, goats, draft horses, pigs, sheep and dogs.
In their words, “We are a winemaker and an artist; we grow and produce what we love to eat and drink. We named our farm and winery after our goal to provide a gracious and welcoming table for ourselves and friends, with a cornucopia of hand-crafted food and wine.”
Big Table Farm Wine
Big Table Farm produces unfined and unflitered Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Rosé, Syrah and Pinot Gris. We tasted six different wines during a visit hosted by Clare at Big Table Farm’s Atelier. It’s a tasting room with, indeed, a big table, and Clare’s art studio. (However, she has plans in the works for her “dream art studio on the farm.”) Clare’s passion for their farm, their food and their wine matches the passion in her amazing artwork displayed throughout the Atelier. She created 70 paintings during the 2020 pandemic.
Here are the six wines we experienced. According to Clare, these are “crazy good wines that reflect who we are and complement food and life.”
Big Table Farm Laughing Pig Rosé 2020 ($32)
The 2020 Laughing Pig Pinot Noir Rosé is a dry, complex wine with a soft edge. Aromatics of raspberries, strawberries, cherries and oranges are mirrored on the palate. In addition, this is a bright, rich rosé with a hint of spices and minerality. Enjoy a glass on its own or with many different dishes, including chicken salad, charcuterie, salmon or soft cheese. By the way, Clare’s label originated in Ireland, where Brian took a photo of a pig that was laughing.
Wild Bee Chardonnay 2019 ($30)
This sought-after Chardonnay is in a class of its own. Wild Bee is a true Willamette Valley blend of all seven Chardonnay sites partnered with Big Table Farm. Minerality and purity complement both crisp and creamy flavors of lemons, limes, apples, stone fruit, pineapple and bananas. Rich, layered and textured, this is one beautiful Chardonnay. Artist April Coppini drew the bee on this label, the only one not designed by Clare.
Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2019 ($48)
Like the Wild Bee, this aromatic wine is a true representation of the region. It blends Pinot Noir from nine sites, each adding their own characteristics to make it a truly delicious Cuvée. It’s the largest bottling of the winery’s Pinot. The aromatics and the flavors are similar: red and dark fruit, espresso, spices and a hint of savoriness and smokiness, laced with minerality. This Pinot displays layers of elegance, with a lingering finish.
Pinot Noir Pelos Sandberg 2019 ($64)
This luscious, exotic Pinot Noir contains both weight and texture. Brian describes it as “a 2019 with an old soul – this mesmerizing wine is heady, earthy and elegant.” It is drinking well now, however you could cellar it for another ten years or more. Pelos Sandberg entices with inviting aromas of black cherries, herbs and a forest, leading into silky flavors of citrus, black cherries, raspberries, spices and a hint of caramel. We adored this Pinot.
Pinot Noir Yamhill Carlton 2018 ($64)
Big Table Farm sources the fruit for this wine from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, where their farm is located. Clare says that someday, their estate fruit will be added. “Part of why we started making this wine was thinking that someday wine from our vineyard would have a home.” She adds that fruit from this region offers more power than finesse. Scents of blueberries and blackberries turn into layers of red fruit flavors, with touches of tobacco leaf, dried herbs, black coffee and cedar. It also is one of our favorites.
Big Table Funk Estate Syrah The Rocks 2018 ($48)
We knew even before we tasted this savory Syrah that we would love it because the grapes are sourced from the esteemed Funk Estate Vineyard in The Rocks District AVA. It features everything we appreciate about wines from The Rocks District – scents and flavors of stones, minerals, umami, smoked meat, dark fruit and Kalamata olives. Brian used a subtle hand in Big Table Farm’s Syrah, and as a result, it is opulent and savory, but also subtle and elegant in its funkiness. As mentioned, this is the wine we brought home to our cellar.
Summary: Big Table Farm
In conclusion, our first visit to Big Table Farm underlined the reasons behind buzz for this Oregon winery. Above all, there is a finesse to Brian Marcy’s wine-making style that is evident in each glass. The wines are as compelling as the collaboration between Brian and Clare Carver, who truly embody the “farm-to-table” concept. We encourage you to join Big Table Farm’s mailing list so you can order these wines when they are first released.
Finally, many thanks to Clare, who came to the Atelier on a day the tasting room is closed, so we could experience these standout wines.
Margot and Dave