Morgen Long

Oregon, USA

Seth Morgen Long found his way into the wine business through restaurants, through food. Growing up in Oregon, Seth’s first job was working as a prep-cook in Eugene Oregon.  Seth worked in kitchens through college, where he studied Environmental studies and Geography. After college, Seth moved to the front of the house, but Seth’s interest in wine came through food. Training as a sommelier in 2008 and 2009, and moved to Portland where he met Erica Landon, of Walter Scott. Erica encouraged Seth to look at working harvest when the restaurant industry was hard hit by the financial crisis. Seth’s first harvest was in 2009, followed by a harvest in 2010 at Willikenzie Estate, where he worked in the cellar for harvest and into pruning season.  He followed pruning in winter to a harvest in Central Otago at Akarua at Bannockburn, in early 2011. After spending time in New Zealand, Seth returned to the US where he worked with Jeff Brinkman at Rhys in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Over an early morning at the sorting table with Jeff, Seth told him that he was going to take over one day: “And Jeff told me ‘That’s great you should go to Burgundy first”. And I asked him if he could make that happen and he said “Yeah, do you want to go to Dujac or de Montille?”

As Pinot Noir was such a focus in Oregon, Seth wanted to work at Dujac, which turned out to be full. He was invited to work at de Montille, which given his path was fortuitous. After working in Meursault, Seth returned to Oregon to work at Willakenzie again, knowing that he would be returning to Burgundy. Seth returned to de Montille for harvest in the fall of 2013, focusing entirely on Chardonnay. In Meursault, Seth discovered the blueprint for his incredible work in the Willamette Valley. “Reverence is what I learned at de Montille. Being respectful of the work that was done in the vineyards” says Seth.

Seth's love and focus on Chardonnay led him to be the first winemaker in Oregon completely committed to Willamette Valley Chardonnay for his entire production. Seth believes that Chardonnay comes from a sincere and genuine commitment that matured over time. This is the guiding principle that drives his passion, instincts, and intuition in the vineyard and cellar.

Seth works with some of the Willamette Valley’s finest vineyard sites including X Omni, Witness Tree, Temperance Hill, and Durant. All of the fruit is handpicked at an optimal range of physiological, sugar, and acid ripeness. Seth employs extractive press cycles to obtain high acidity must, with substantial turbidity and phenol content. Sulfur is rarely used in the press pan, allowing fragile flavonoid phenols to oxidize. After 3-24 hours of browning, small amounts of sulfur are added to stop oxidation and again after 12-24 hours, before ambient fermentation typically begins. The must with full solids is transferred to a mix of 228, 265, 320, 350, 400, and 500 liter barrels and puncheons, mostly from Damy. Seth places equal value on nature and nurture and lees are rarely stirred. Once primary fermentation and malolactic are complete, the wines age in the cold cellar. After one year in barrel, the wines are transferred to stainless steel with inert gas to integrate for a second winter. The wines are bottled at 18 months. Fining with bentonite and gentle filtration are employed only if he feels that they enhance the wine.

Seth’s intense focus on balance, reduction, acidity, and fruit development are paramount to the energy and longevity of his Chardonnays. The resulting wines coming from the Morgen Long cellar are nothing short of extraordinary. The transparent and complex nature of Seth’s wines offer a clear view into the sites and terroir of the Willamette Valley.