Stirling and daughter Violet working the shaker table as fruit is brought in for the crush
Purveyors of Luxury
Art of the Vine
– Stirling Fox –
Stirling has been working professionally in the Oregon wine industry since 1989. He majored in Food & Wine Science at OSU but the vineyards became his true calling and by 1997 he was hired as the Executive Vineyard Manager for Willamette Valley Vineyards in Salem managing 300 acres of estate properties and coordinating fruit purchasing all over Oregon.
In the spring of 2000, Stirling moved on to a position as the vineyard manager for Rex Hill and the General Manger of Rex Hills sister company Oregon Grape Management. In this role he worked with many vineyard owners throughout the Willamette Valley and honed his talents for custom winegrowing. In 2007 Stirling started his eponymously named company Stirling Wine Grapes (S.W.I.G.) to offer custom farming services throughout the northern Willamette Valley.
In 2008, Stirling and his wife Kelly Kidneigh teamed up to create their own boutique label, Mad Violets Wine Company, totaling 1400 cases annually. Daughters Madeline and Violet were an inspiration for the brand name evoking images of whimsical native wild flowers and questionable sanity for starting our own wine label.
Commitment and passion are evident when the fruit is delivered at harvest each year. S.W.I.G is well known for meticulously farmed sites where optimal ripeness is the goal and beautiful cool climate wines are the result. From soil to bottle we stay on the throttle.
Art of the Wine
– Kelly Kidneigh –
My philosophy of winemaking has less to do with making and more to do with interpreting what the vintage and vineyard is expressing in the wine. I came to Oregon in 1998 with the desire to “make” wine not knowing the first thing about it, other than that I loved the ethereal and elegant femininity Oregon Pinot Noir possessed. In the years since, my pursuit of winemaking has guided me through many vineyards, cellars and on to a college degree, but for me the most important and inspiring thing I have learned is to let the vintage and vineyard speak for itself. Therefore I feel it is my job as a winemaker not to “make” the wine, but rather to shepherd the fruit, to watch, smell, taste, and listen and in difficult years to guide it with a gentle and patient hand. I believe wine is made in the vineyard under the direction of nature; I merely try to interpret that expression.
My style or technique is fairly hands off. Any action I take during fermentation and barrel ageing relies on the smell and taste of the fruit and the ensuing wine throughout the process from vine to bottle. I try to pick the fruit when it is optimally ripe as there is a distinct difference in flavors between when the numbers are good and when the fruit is optimally ripe. I work closely with the vineyard manager to achieve both. In Oregon we are usually in a race with time; which will come first, the creamy ripeness I seek or the rains which must fall? Fortunately we have the tools to deal with whatever the weather hands us, but the best vintages are those where we are given the choice as to when to pick rather than being forced by the rain or weather.
For me the temperature during fermentation is the key to aromatics and balanced tannins. I practice short cold soaks, five to seven days, followed by long, low temperature fermentations, typically two weeks in length. As the fermentation begins I keep a careful eye and nose on the tanks and only inoculate with commercial wine yeast when I sense trouble. Cap management is a moment to moment, day by day decision. In total the fruit will spend about a month in the fermentation vessel during its transformation from grapes to wine.
– Mad Violets In The Making-
In 2008, Stirling teamed up with his wife and winemaker Kelly Kidneigh to launch their Mad Violets Wine Company to make about 1000 cases of wine annually comprising of 4 local varietals including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay. Daughters Madeleine and Violet lent their names to the family label! Commitment to producing the finest possible wines can only come from meticulously farmed winegrapes for which Stirling brings to the table from his S.W.I.G. business.
“The climate here creates distinct vintage character which I enjoy because my wines showcase the unique personality of each year allowing the sites influence to shine through and create a multi faceted tapestry of rich complexity in the finished wines. “
– Kelly Kidneigh
Tenzing is on the home team patrolling our Buttonfield Estate on daily basis to keep pests out and warm our hearts within. He is a Tibetan Mastiff and his other job is to greet guests who visit our tasting room where he loves to lay down in the middle of the room to be a part of our winery family.