Welcome to the Portfolio, Pray Tell!

Welcome to the Portfolio, Pray Tell!

Pray Tell is the solo project of Tom Caruso, a young Oregon-based winemaker who produces beautiful, organically grown, low-intervention wines.


Tom grew up in South Philadelphia to an Italian immigrant family. His childhood frequently featured scenes of making Merlot together with his grandfather on Oregon Avenue. (The overwhelming foreshadowing here is not lost on him today.)

He went off to college in DC, where he earned a degree in political science. After an eye-opening job interview with a lobbying group, Tom escaped from the political arena to New York City to pursue a new dream: to become the next great American novelist. In the meantime, he would have to settle for a job editing psychology textbooks. Outside of work, Tom stayed sane by meeting his friends out for dinner often, and thanks to the city’s trendy and diverse restaurant scene, he quickly discovered a burgeoning interest in food and wine.

By complete chance, Tom stumbled upon Brooklyn Winery, where he finally realized his true calling. He kept his editing job and worked at the winery at night, supplementing his new hobby with an intensive sommelier program. Eventually his coworkers encouraged him to go west, young man, and so he did. He landed at Bedrock Wine Co. with Morgan Twain-Peterson and Chris Cottrell, and he even got to work with Morgan’s father and California winemaking legend, Joel Peterson, on his inaugural vintage of Once and Future Wine.

Tom tends to barrels full of red wine with an impressively white t-shirt.
Tom tends to barrels full of red wine with an impressively white t-shirt.

After spending several years in California, Tom took a quick trip north to see the Willamette Valley, and before he left, he put his name down for an apartment. “The reason I came to Oregon in the first place was it is still probably the shortest chapter in any wine textbook that you pick up,” he says. “I feel like to remain naive about Oregon almost feels like you’re being obtuse in the wine world. This is a place that has gotten so much attention and recognition internationally, and there are some truly exceptional wines being made in Willamette, and I hope that I can continue as a producer to put my wines on those same shelves.”

He had the good fortune of being introduced to fellow synesthete Maggie Harrison and worked with her for several vintages. Even today, some of the Pray Tell wines share fruit sources with Antica Terra.

The first-ever vintage of Pray Tell wine, Gamay Noir. The label depicts an abstract celestial being clutching their heart which represents how meaningful the entire process for Tom.
The first-ever vintage of Pray Tell wine, Gamay Noir. The label depicts an abstract celestial being clutching their heart which represents how meaningful the entire process for Tom.

Naturally, Tom embarked on his own winemaking project, and in 2017, Pray Tell was born. Though Tom is sure to acknowledge the friends, colleagues, and inspirations he’s found along the way, Pray Tell is largely a one-man operation where he’s free to experiment and follow his fascinations without compromise.

Winemaking is a creative journey for Tom. It’s a constant dialogue between humanity and nature; Tom’s grapes speak to him, and he responds. He practices sustainable, organic techniques that honor the integrity of the fruit instead of forcing them to “behave” with unnatural chemical additions or recipes. His open-mindedness and divergent thinking allow the most uninhibited expressions of Willamette’s best grapes to shine through.

A lack of intervention doesn’t equate to a lack of detail, however. Tom learned from Maggie Harrison that in winemaking—a process with infinite variables—every detail matters. This starts with sourcing organic and biodynamic grapes from trusted, quality farmers. Sulfur is added judiciously, so although Pray Tell wines check the right boxes for the natural wine world, they are also varietally correct and pristine.

Tom stomping grapes in late 2023.
Tom stomping grapes in late 2023.

There’s an unparalleled level of care in his work that spills over to every aspect of winemaking. It’s his red-stained hands that guide every step of the process—down to the packaging and shipping. Every bottle of Pray Tell bears an intimate label designed and hand-cut by Tom.

He reflects on the personal nature of his wines and the family history that helped inform his current profession: “It makes it feel a little more like sustenance than just alcohol. It gives it this meaning—and not to make it sound more important than it is—but it is so special when you have those connections like that where you realize it’s not commoditized. It’s about the people who are part of the process.”

Tom designs a new wine label with construction paper and a glue stick.
Tom designs a new wine label with construction paper and a glue stick.

Tom’s wines truly reflect his personality. They can be bright, playful, fun, and unconventional without ever losing their North Star of elegant varietal representation.

One of his earliest experiments, a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir, is also one of his most precious. The blend is inspired by the declassified table wine enjoyed within the communities around Beaujolais and Burgundy. To him, they have a “celebratory” and “exuberant” character that feels like the memory of summer nights spent catching fireflies in jars. Fitting, then, that this bottle’s label depicts a lantern, and when your patio table holds a few bottles side by side, they appear to connect like string lights.

Speaking on the Pray Tell project, Tom admits, “It’s an exploration in earnest curiosity—to combine what I know with what I don’t—and create wines that align with my own values and exploration.”

We’re thrilled to join Tom on his creative journey, and we’re desperately curious to taste the beautifully unpredictable wines he’ll make for years to come.

Follow him on Instagram and check out his website to stay up-to-date on his activities!



Wine and Spirit Label 1

Red Blend ‘Willamette Valley’

  • 60% Gamay Noir, 40% Pinot Noir
  • Sourced from all organic/biodynamic vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley.
  • Produced in a “Passetoutgrain” style 
  • Mix of whole cluster, destemmed, and carbonic grapes
  • Aged twelve months in neutral French oak.
  • 269 cases produced
  • 12.49% abv
Wine and Spirit Label 2

Chardonnay ‘Willamette Valley’

  • Practicing Biodynamic
  • 100% Chardonnay
  • Direct pressed and aged in 80% low toast new French oak for 18 months.
  • 97 cases produced
  • 12% abv
Wine and Spirit Label 3

Pinot Noir ‘Willamette Valley’

  • 100% Pinot Noir
  • Sourced from Biodynamic and organic vineyards 55 miles from the Pacific Ocean
  • Eola-Amity Hills AVA
  • Partial whole cluster
  • 12 months in 10% new French oak
  • 239 cases produced
  • 12.52% abv
Wine and Spirit Label 4

Dolcetto ‘Willamette Valley’

  • Practicing Organic
  • 100% Dolcetto
  • Sourced from a single site in Eola-Amity Hills AVA
  • Destemmed, limited skin maceration
  • All native ferments
  • Neutral Oak Aging
  • 139 cases produced
Wine and Spirit Label 5

Gamay Noir ‘Willamette Valley,’

  • Practicing Organic
  • 100% Gamay
  • Sourced from three vineyards across Yamhill-Carlton and Eola-Amity Hills AVAs
  • 1/3 carbonic maceration, 2/3 aerobic fermentation (75% whole cluster)
  • All native fermentation
  • Aged for ten months in neutral French oak barrels and Terra Cotta amphora
  • 275 cases produced
  • 12.76% abv
Wine and Spirit Label 6

Mondeuse ‘Willamette Valley’

  • Practicing Organic
  • 100% Mondeuse
  • 100% whole cluster on ripe, young vine (3rd leaf)
  • All native ferments
  • Neutral Oak Aging
  • 140 cases produced
Wine and Spirit Label 7

Syrah ‘Rocks District’

  • Practicing Organic
  • 100% Syrah
  • Rocks District AVA
  • Limited maceration, gentle pressing
  • Aged in a combination of new/neutral oak and Terra Cotta amphora
  • 175 cases produced
  • 13.96% abv

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