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Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Husband and wife smile in a portrait with a grey back ground.
Chad and Bree Stock, MW,

Winemakers, Chad Stock, and Master of Wine, Bree Stock, of Limited Addition in Oregon make wine in the heart of the Willamette Valley where Pinot Noir dominates. Farmers used to working with Pinot lead Chad and Bree into a fascinating new way to approach pyrazines, the compound that make some wines taste like green bell pepper or jalapeños. Amazingly, they have realized that canopy management in the Willamette Valley can help allow Cabernet Franc to come full ripe without any of this green character, and the results are amazing.

Here are the main takeaways from our conversation with Chad and Bree Stock about pyrazines.

  1. Pyrazines are a family of compounds that are often experienced in wine as vegetal-like flavors including oregano, bell pepper, green bean, and jalapeno.

  2. Exposure of grape clusters to ultraviolet light changes the nature of Pyrazine compounds inside the grapes, and thus their expression in the wine. Chemists call this photo-degradation.

  3. In regions with a lot of shading from leaves around the fruit, there is less light penetration from the sun that can hit the fruit, and thus more pyrazines can be present.

  4. The Willamette Valley, with it’s northern latitude sees a tremendous amount of ultraviolet light, and cultural practices include stripping leaves from the “fruit zone”, further increasing exposure.

  5. In regions like California and Washington State, grapes are often exposed to less ultraviolet light because leaves are left on the vines to help protect from strong sunlight and the intense heat. This can lead to a significant amount of pyrazine compounds.

  6. Limited Addition has started to unlock the extraordinary potential and flavor of Cabernet Franc in the Willamette Valley thanks to the accidental exposure to ultraviolet light during the farming process.

  7. Cabernet franc can hang through autumn rain events much more effectively than a thinner-skinned variety like pinot noir.

  8. Cabernet franc gives farmers in the Willamette Valley the ability to expand their harvest and cellar work for an extra six to eight weeks.


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