Naked wines from the Pacific Northwest
Joe Swick is a 5th generation Oregonian, born and raised in Portland. He got into the wine business working as a shipping/receiving clerk working at a specialty organic food store in Portland, where he was able to taste a lot of different wines and meet a lot of Oregonian winemakers. He worked his first harvest in 2003 in Oregon, and from then until 2012 he worked 15 different harvests, traveling all over the world as far as Tasmania, France, Portugal, and Italy. Joe returned to Oregon in 2013 to start Swick Wines in the Willamette Valley. He works only with sustainable or organically farmed vineyards that are not irrigated, from cooler climate locations.
He embraces the minimal approach when making his wines such as using native yeasts, aging in old barrels, and adding minimal sulfur during bottling—only when absolutely necessary. While Joe started out with a focus on making Oregon Pinot Noir, he now has explored many other grape varietals and experiments with different techniques during élevage.
He is an exceptionally pragmatic winemaker. An example of this is his willingness to use a small percentage of new barrels. Older barrels purchased from conventional winemakers may have brettanomyces lodged deep in the grain, held at bay by excessive sulphur additions. By slowly creating his own stock of neutral barrels, he ensures their cleanliness and can allow his wines to mature during élevage sans soufre.