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Lingua Franca LLC

Hospitality Team
June 23, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part Six


Brandon Hasart
Vineyard Manager

and the newest addition to the Lingua Franca Team!


Originally from Bend, Oregon, Brandon graduated from the Washington State University with a degree in enology and viticulture. From there he went on to work a harvest in New Zealand and then lived in Casablanca, Chile for a year, where he helped make wine for a small producer specializing in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. After a stint as the Assistant Winemaker at Abacela in Southern Oregon, he relocated to the Willamette Valley to shift his focus to vineyard management. Day to day, Brandon works with Thomas, overseeing the LF Estate and Bunker Hill Estate Vineyards and collaborates with the winemaking team's operations, including blending trials. Like many of us here at Lingua Franca, Brandon is in the Valley to pursue the most elusive of all wine grapes, with charm, character and transparency, Pinot Noir.
What were you doing before you got into the wine industry?
"I decided to pursue working in the wine industry while I was still in college. I spent my first two years of school as a pre-vet, animal science major. At one point I was working two part-time jobs, one on the campus orchard and vineyard and one in a vet clinic. I started to realize that I enjoyed myself a lot more while working out in the orchard, and as soon as I realized that I could get a degree in Viticulture and Enology and build a career in the wine industry, I pursued it full force."
Is there a memorable experience that initially drew you and connects you to this work and lifestyle? "One experience that I think back on a lot was on a trip to visit my mom’s family in the Basque country of Spain. My cousins took us out to dinner one night at a cider house in the countryside. That experience of eating a family style meal next to strangers in the barrel hall and filling our glasses straight out of the foudre has been cemented in my mind as a moment when I fell in love with the craft beverage industry. It has always been the combination of agriculture, artisanship and community that draws me to farming and winemaking."
What do you like doing when you aren’t at Lingua Franca?
"When I’m not at work I really enjoy spending time around McMinnville. It’s been a great community to be a part of for the last several years. There always seems to be a backyard cook-out to attend and amazing wines to try. As much as we can, my girlfriend, Mallory, and I love to spend time backpacking in the Cascades and exploring the Northwest."
What are your thoughts on the LF Estate and Bunker Hill Estate Vineyards thus far in the season, since you’ve begun working on them? "I consider myself pretty lucky to get to be a part of the Lingua Franca vineyard as it reaches maturity. There is still so much to be learned on this site, and it will be exciting to see how each block further differentiates itself in the coming years. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s amazing to be able to be working with older vines at Bunker Hill, especially in such a unique area as the Salem Hills. Each site has its own challenges and I hope to continue farming them in ways that bring out their best qualities."
Time Posted: Jun 23, 2020 at 10:47 AM Permalink to Meet the Team, Part Six Permalink
Hospitality Team
June 6, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part Five



Sam Schmitt 

Director of Operations


If you've joined any of our weekly Wine Webinar Wednesday presentations, you may already be well acquainted with Sam. A native of the Midwest, Sam holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics from Butler University, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Indiana University. 
An avid traveler and wine enthusiast, Sam has explored wine regions throughout Europe and the U.S. His travels ultimately led him to establish roots here in the Willamette Valley and shift his focus exclusively to the wine industry after living in Scottsdale, Arizona, where among other things, he decided to open a wine bar. He has since become a CMS Certified Sommelier, a SWE Certified Wine Educator, and is currently pursuing the WSET Diploma.
"Running the wine bar is what really got me hooked on changing careers to get into the wine industry professionally.”
What were you doing before you got into the wine industry?          "I was a consultant to the global pharmaceutical industry specializing in Sales and Marketing strategy, Clinical Trial implementation, Leadership Development and other professional training programs for about 25 years. Some of that morphed into creating an event production, graphics, and visualization development company for large corporate events. I also founded and ran a wine bar in Scottsdale, AZ in the middle 2000's. Running the wine bar is what really got me hooked on changing careers to get into the wine industry professionally."
What was your "epiphany" wine and do you remember that moment?
"Like it was yesterday! I was having dinner with the partners of the consulting firm I worked for at the time in 1995. The managing partner was a wine guy and he ordered a bottle of 1990 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. Up until that time, my go-to wines were Bartles & James and White Zinfandel! That glass of Caymus set off all kinds of fireworks in my head. I'd never tasted anything that was so exciting and complex. Needless to say, I was hooked and never looked back. Joey Harrington was kind enough to gift me a bottle of 1990 Caymus from his cellar last year — it's now displayed in a place of honor in my cellar at home."
What is your favorite go-to wine accessory at home?
"I couldn’t have completed any of my wine certifications without a Coravin. It’s an indispensable tool for enjoying just a glass without feeling guilty about pulling the cork. High quality glassware is a very close second."
What are you enjoying drinking these days? 
"Having recently visited Spain, I’m drinking a lot of Rioja and Ribera del Duero right now. We visited quite a few bodegas while we were there, but the two standouts were Marques de Murrietta in Logroño, Rioja and Vega Sicilia in Ribera de Duero. Murrietta’s 2015 Rioja Reserva and our 2018 Lingua Franca Estate Chardonnay have gotten a lot of 'glass time' since we’ve returned."
Time Posted: Jun 6, 2020 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Meet the Team, Part Five Permalink
Hospitality Team
May 29, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Poulet Gaston Gerard Recipe

"My favorite dish to pair with the 2017 Bunker Hill Chardonnay is Poulet Gaston Gerard — a classic Burgundian chicken dish served in a sauce of white wine, Dijon mustard, crème fraîche and grated comté." - Thomas Savre, Winemaker
Poulet Gaston Gerard

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  • 4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium White Onion, Halved and Sliced into Ribbons
  • ½ Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Cup of Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 8 Ounces Crème fraîche or Sour Cream
  • 6 Ounces Grated Comté or Gruyère Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Sprig of Thyme (optional)
  • Sliced, Warm Baguette

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Pat the chicken breasts with a paper towel to remove surface liquid, and then season both sides of the breast generously with salt and pepper
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet until simmering, then add the chicken breasts and brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side
  4. Remove chicken from the skillet and place in a baking dish
  5. In the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil and the onion slices and sauté until slightly translucent
  6. Add the white wine, crème fraîche, mustard, thyme and paprika, stir until combined and slightly bubbling
  7. Pour over the sauce over the chicken breasts in the baking dish and top with the grated cheese
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165° F
  9. Serve immediately with a basket of baguette slices
Photo credit: The Good Life France
Time Posted: May 29, 2020 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Poulet Gaston Gerard Recipe Permalink
Hospitality Team
May 22, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part Four


Kim Abrahams



Kim joined Lingua Franca as Assistant Winemaker in early 2017. Born and raised in Louisiana, Kimberly made the decision to pack up and move west as a recent business school graduate after a stint working in the wine distribution world. "There, I was introduced to the vast world of wine, spirits and beer. Wine grabbed my attention and it never let go." Her newly found passion led her across the country and around the world, before she landed here in Oregon. 
"Everything at Lingua Franca is a group effort, we look to all members of the winemaking team for input on our wines."
In the beginning, Kim did it all, from helping to establish systems, to packing, shipping and delivering wine, to hosting tastings, all while getting to know our vineyards and wines. Over the years her role has evolved. She now helps manage our growing winemaking team and assists with day to day operations with Winemaker Thomas Savre's direction. During harvest Kim begins with a laser focus on our Chardonnays, and once they are all happily fermenting, she quickly shifts over to Pinot Noir.
"We are continually improving and getting to know our vineyards more and more each year. I spend a lot of my time in the vineyards, and in the beautiful green spaces surrounding the winery, which we hope to call 'the farm' one day."
Kim also tends to our four new beehives. We have partnered with Jacobsen Salt's beekeeper, Emily Schmiedel, through their Bee Local program to learn sustainable beekeeping and begin harvesting our own estate honey next year.
"I am proud that here at Lingua Franca we are contributing to saving the bees! I look forward to the day we are able to harvest honey but for now I am appreciating them buzzing about, collecting pollen and watching all the new baby bees emerge."
What are you enjoying drinking these days?  "Needless to say there is always wine on the table. Recently it’s been a lot of Jolie-Laide Wines out of Sebastopol, California. The Trousseau Gris and Melon de Bourgogne are incredibly tasty and go with just about anything we’ve cooked for the evening. My husband is also a winemaker, so we do a lot of blind tasting around the dinner table, sometimes classic wines and sometimes obscure varietals. Our nightcap is Domaine Roulot L’Abricot, Apricot Liqueur. It will change your life . . . Trust me."
What do you like to do when you’re not at Lingua Franca? 
"There are two places you can usually find me when I'm not at work: in my garden and roaming the coastal range for mushrooms, always accompanied by my pup Cedar Roux. Gardening pushes me to be more patient and creative, every year something succeeds and something fails. I have a tendency to go all in; I’ve currently got twenty-five different types of tomatoes waiting to go into the ground.
"The bounty of the Pacific Northwest is all-giving when you find the right spot. That feeling of finding a patch of chanterelles — pure excitement, where nothing else matters in that moment. I like to call mushroom hunting adult treasure hunting, though it always makes me feel like a kid again. The meals to follow are always mind blowing and a reminder that nature provides for us when you allow it to.
Time Posted: May 22, 2020 at 12:02 PM Permalink to Meet the Team, Part Four Permalink
Hospitality Team
May 9, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part Three


Joshua Wludyka

Director of Trade Sales

and Lingua Franca’s first intern, who assisted Thomas and the winemaking team during our first vintage in 2015.


An interest in food and hospitality motivated Lingua Franca's Director of Trade Sales, Josh Wludyka, to take an entry level position at Charlie Trotter's eponymous restaurant in Chicago, IL as he completed his degree in Economics.  With this first step into the world of fine dining and hospitality he was hooked.  Eventually, he worked his way up to the wine team working closely with Larry Stone for the first time and also oversaw Charlie's exclusive Chef's Kitchen Table experience.  Although he says he had limited knowledge of wine when he met Larry, it quickly grew into a passion and led him to develop a deep curiosity into the business of wine and wine production.
Following Charlie Trotter's retirement and the closing of his restaurant, Josh moved to the Cayman Islands where he opened a cocktail bar and became one of Diageo’s Top 100 Bartenders in the world. Later, he captured the crown as Food & Wine’s Cayman Cookout Champion - TWICE!  In late 2017, at Larry’s urging, Josh joined the Lingua Franca team and now oversees Lingua Franca's national and international distribution activities.
"I love to cook, and I love to make pizza. A great friend of the winery, Junichi Fujita, gave me a piece of his sourdough starter which he brought from the great Jura winemaker, Pierre Overnoy. I've been making all types of breads and pizza doughs lately.”

What is your favorite go-to wine accessory at home?
"I'm kind of hardcore, so I actually think Larry's go to wine key, the Cartailler-Deluc Super Professional Model 92 corkscrew we use at Lingua Franca, is really the only tool you need. I don't really believe in many fancy gadgets, just a well-built wine key with a sharp blade. I also like to collect decanters, so I think everyone should have a cool one — wine looks so beautiful in a vintage decanter on a candle-lit table."
What do you like doing when you aren’t at Lingua Franca?
"I love to cook, and I love to make pizza. A great friend of the winery, Junichi Fujita, gave me a piece of his sourdough starter which he brought from the great Jura winemaker, Pierre Overnoy. I've been making all types of breads and pizza doughs lately. I travel a lot for work, so in this COVID time I picked up a keyboard. I really love Chopin. I played when I was a kid, but I haven't touched a piano since I was old enough to rebel against my parents. I've also been quite enjoying taking hikes with my girlfriend Christina and our golden doodle, Nala."
Time Posted: May 9, 2020 at 10:30 AM Permalink to Meet the Team, Part Three Permalink
Hospitality Team
April 23, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part Two

Meet Thomas Savre, Winemaker

Thomas is a native of Nancy, in northeast France.  He joined Lingua Franca as our very first employee in May 2015. Prior to moving to the States, Thomas graduated from the Jules Guyot Institute at the University of Burgundy with two master’s degrees in Viticulture Practices and Enology & Winemaking. He then worked in several prestigious estates in Burgundy, including Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Domaine Dujac, among others.

So, Why Oregon?

One Saturday morning at Domaine de la Romanée Conti during the 2012 harvest, Thomas tasted a 1995 Cristom Marjorie Vineyard Pinot Noir.
"I still get goose bumps recalling the moment I tasted it for the first time. It was one of the best wines I'd ever had. That experience led me to search for wines from Oregon – anywhere and everywhere I could."
While pursuing his master's degrees in Dijon, Thomas interned for a large producer in California. It was there that he met his wife-to-be, Aimee, who was his ultimate reason for moving to the States. Eager to continue winemaking in the New World, he went on to work for Evening Land Vineyards, where he met Larry and worked side-by-side with renowned Burgundian producer Dominique Lafon. He immediately fell in love with the Eola-Amity Hills and was thrilled about the opportunity to stay when Larry approached him about planting a vineyard next door to Evening Land's Seven Springs, with Dominique overseeing as Consulting Winemaker.
What is your favorite part of your job as a winemaker?
My favorite part of the winemaking process is harvest each year. The grueling 14-hour days and non-stop physical movement are a reward months in the making — I finally get to see clusters from the vines we spend so much time carefully and diligently tending. And Oregon is always ready to throw a challenge my way, each vintage is a different experience due to both our annual weather variation and the unique place that is the Lingua Franca Estate vineyard."
As the vineyard is developing, which blocks are showing to be the most unique?
"I have worked tirelessly to understand the terroir of the Estate and make exceptional wine from the young vineyard, something I honestly believe proves the site is itself exceptional. As the vineyard evolves, I try to examine how each individual block is developing its own personality. I want to honor all of this complexity by creating single block wines, like The Plow. The Plow is sourced from the highest elevation blocks of the vineyard, where soils are shallower and there is a sharp slope. La Bête Pinot Noir is another ode to this intent, comprised of darker and more tannic fruit from the middle of the vineyard, it is a strikingly different take on the same hillside."
Can you tell us more about how you create the final blends every year? "When creating the blends, I really want to highlight my respect for the foundation of our site, which is the goal with our Estate wines. The parcels ferment and age separately to promote their own distinctive character before the team determines how best to create the final blends. We taste blind, in order to encourage humility for every barrel and give each parcel the chance to shine. The blind blending process improves every year as our team continues to grow alongside the vineyard. We don't always immediately agree, which is the most fun part of it all! The spirited debates remind me of the passion and dedication that we all carry with us into the cellar every day."
How does it feel to work so closely with some of the most prestigious names in the wine industry?
"At Lingua Franca, I have always said that I am lucky to have four dads: There's my actual father, who has always respected my decision to be a winemaker; Larry Stone, who has given me this great opportunity; Lingua Franca's co-founder and CFO David Honig; and Dominique, who has served as a life-long mentor as if I were his own son. For me this is very beautiful. I have worked hard to respect the vision of Larry using the knowledge that I have learned from Dominique."

You mentioned that Dominique has served as a life-long mentor. Can you tell us a little bit about how his mentorship has influenced the winemaking at Lingua Franca?
"Dominique doesn't dictate what we do. There's a lot of trust. He respects that Oregon is unique from Burgundy and has its own sense of place. His confidence in me has allowed me to experiment with varying winemaking processes, including whole-cluster fermentation, which I mastered during my time at Domaine de la Romanée Conti. I am grateful that I have also been encouraged to bring fresh ideas and innovative tools to the table, helping to shape the future of Lingua Franca and the LF Estate Vineyard."
Finally, what do you hope to inspire among your colleagues in the wine industry?
"I want to lead by example — making honest wine and standing by our commitment to respecting the land. We must remember that winemaking is a craft, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. I am honored when people from all over the world take the time to come and taste our wine. I will never tire of sharing what we're doing and watching their emotional connection to it.
Cheers to that, Thomas.

Time Posted: Apr 23, 2020 at 10:25 AM Permalink to Meet the Team, Part Two Permalink
Hospitality Team
April 13, 2020 | Hospitality Team

Meet the Team, Part One

Get to Know

Larry Stone

Founder & Master Sommelier

as we share the story of Lingua Franca and some of his exclusive insights into the world of wine.
"Since my early 20s, the Willamette Valley has been the only place outside of the Cote d'Or I believed would be capable of making truly refined, vibrant and complex Pinot Noir."
Three decades ago Larry tasted the very first vintage of Seven Springs-sourced Pinot Noir, made by David Adelsheim. That bottle cemented his belief that the Eola-Amity Hills, especially between Hopewell and Zena Road, had some of the finest sites in the Willamette Valley. Years later during his tenure at Evening Land,  he returned to the site that started it all. Looking across the road on that very hill, he saw what he believed was the New World equivalent of Grand Cru for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
"I didn't hesitate. I sold everything to plant Lingua Franca Estate."
Larry immediately knew that it was a golden opportunity to develop an extraordinary vineyard that he says will long outlast him in the hearts of wine drinkers around the world. Click here for the full story.
What is your current favorite everyday drinking wine, and why? My wife and I like to drink a mix of light, refreshing white, sparkling and rosé wines. Domaine de Triennes Rosé is very elegant and pretty with light fruit notes and Bisol Jeio Brut Prosecco is very dry, fresh and fine. Also, Lingua Franca L'Espoir Riesling, because it is dry and totally mouthwatering.  I can drink it on its own while cooking with my wife, Nancy, or have it with a lovely sautéed salmon or halibut. For reds, I am currently drinking Lingua Franca Pinot Noir most often. Occasionally we open a bottle of Sirita Napa Cabernet Franc that I made from 1997 to 2005, named in honor of my daughter, Siri.  For a fresher, more lifted version of the Cabernet family we enjoy Saumur-Champigny Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. For more complex and medium bodied wines I choose Chianti Selvapiana or Fattoria di Bossi for the sheer pleasure of their firm, floral, irony flavor. Also, we often open Cotes du Rhone because they are quite versatile with everything from sausages to steak - for these look for St. Cosme or Guigal, or Gigondas from Brusset.   
What's the best advice you can offer to those looking to expand their palate using only their neighborhood wine shop? When buying wine in a store I find that a little trust is usually repaid.  Work with the staff, explain what you have enjoyed before and ask questions. Try regions and vintages you have not yet tasted, as it's the best way to expand your knowledge.

What are your most essential tools for enjoying wine at home? Besides my Cartailler-Deluc Model 92 corkscrew, it could only be my Riedel Sommelier Burgundy wine glass.
Tell us about a producer that you enjoy and would like to see more people drinking. Sohm & Kracher Grüner Veltliner from Austria is refreshing with a note of salinity, white pepper, and lemon zest. Made by one of the finest winemakers in the world and one of the world's best sommeliers, Aldo Sohm. His two most accessible types are the inexpensive and delicious "Lion", fermented and aged in stainless steel, and then the serious "Alte Reben" aged in stainless steel before being transferred to wooden casks of Slovenian oak.
Which wineries in the Willamette Valley should we also visit when planning a trip to Lingua Franca? There are many great wineries in the Willamette Valley, but try Cristom, Brooks, Walter Scott, Bergström, Beaux Frères, Brick House, Soter, Domaine Drouhin, Antica Terra, and Evening Land. Click here to view our availability and make a reservation. 
Finally, given the story of how you came to find this specific site, what about the future of the Lingua Franca Estate vineyard most excites you? The most exciting thing about the Lingua Franca Estate vineyard has been how it has evolved so quickly to become our finest source of fruit. While it started out strong, Lingua Franca Estate has appreciably gained depth and complexity each of the four consecutive vintages we have harvested from it. As we release the 2018 vintage, the quality of flavors and the intensity of the wine are astonishing. In fact, each block seems to gain more character and personality every year, so I am curious to see what they will do in the years to come.
Time Posted: Apr 13, 2020 at 10:30 AM Permalink to Meet the Team, Part One Permalink