My professional career began in wine and I often recollect an abundance of memories spent with the growers, producers, and story tellers.
A few weeks ago I was fortunate to join an Oregon wine tasting adventure taking in a couple of days of the Willamette Valley. It had been years since stepping foot on the soil of Dundee, Carlton, McMinnville, and Newberg.
Nostalgia is a powerful and sentimental feeling that the Greeks refer to as a homecoming. Taking in some of the familiar views, tasty vintages, hearing the passionate stories they told was heartwarming and the new memories just as sweet.
Our time was spent in a well concentrated area between Carlton and Newberg.
|View from Belle Pente Vineyard & Winery|
Belle Pente (pronounced bell pont) Winery literally means beautiful slope. The winery sits on 70 acres just east of Carlton. Our host shared an impressive line-up of wines that are inspired from the producers of Burgundy and Alsace France. My favorites were the 2010 Pinot Gris, 2011 Bell Oiseau (Edelzwicker blend varieties of Alsace: Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Muscat), and the 2011 Belle Pente Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Soter Vineyards was next on the list and did not disappoint! Their picturesque winery sat high on the hills of Mineral Spring Ranch in a beautifully refurbished barn. We were surrounded by vineyards mostly planted to Pinot Noir and a touch of chardonnay all sustainably farmed. The stand outs included their 2013 North Valley Rosé, 2011 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir, and 2006 Beacon Hill Pinot Noir.
|I bet they would have let us sample from here if we asked nicely.|
|View from Domaine Drouhin|
Domaine Drouhin with a stunning backdrop and catchy tag line (French soul, Oregon soil) introduced us to old world practices with the bounty of New World fruit. They were among one of the more established wineries we visited dating back to the late 1980’s, however their family winemaking practices in Burgundy, France go all the way back to the late 1800’s. My favorites were the 2013 Edition Rosé, 2012 Édition Limitée Chardonnay, and the 2012 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir.
Crowley Wines was nestled on the outskirts of Newberg. Our handsome host Tyson (owner/winemaker/chief barrel washer), shared with us his migration from upstate New York to the west coast. Erath welcomed him with open arms as a cellar hand and thanks to that introduction, the Willamette Valley is now where he and his delicious wines call home. Founded back in 2005, his wines showcased finesse, structure, and balance. Top picks included: 2011 Four Winds Chardonnay, 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and 2011 Laurel Hood Pinot Noir.
Last on our itinerary was Big Table Farm. A husband/wife power duo that was beyond impressive and hospitable. Brian Marcy is the winemaker with a notable CV including Turley Wine Cellars, Neyers Vineyards, Blankiet Estate, and many more. Clare Carver manages the 70 acres, designs wine labels and is an amazing artist! I loved everything they made! 2013 Laughing Pig Rosé, 2013 Wirtz Garden Edelzwicker, 2012 Chardonnay, 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2012 Pelos Sandberg Pinot Noir, and the 2011 White Hawk Syrah.
In the coming months, we’ll be adding some of these wines on the list for you to try too. We look forward to hearing about your summer adventures.