Our latest Video AdVINEture features a sneak peek of our recent trip to Oregon! After a night in Portland we headed to the Willamette Valley to interview Doug Tunnel of Brick House Wines and Wayne Bailey of Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn. We also experienced the provisions tasting at Soter Wines and stopped into Sokol Blosser for a tasting. Fall is our favourite time to visit any wine region and with harvest just completed, there was lots of activity and lots of optimism about the 2018 vintage. We are big fans of the wine coming out of Oregon and this latest trip solidified that the Willamette Valley truly deserved to be named Wine Region of the Year (Wine Enthusiast 2016)!
In December of last year, the influential wine magazine Wine Enthusiast named Oregon’s Willamette Valley their Wine Region of Year for 2016. AdVINEtures decided to take trip down there and see how things had evolved since we were there two years ago. What we found was a wine region that charms visitors with its lack of pretension, a terrific food scene that focuses on local, farm-to-table cuisine, and a group of winemakers that embrace a sense of community and collaboration that has resulted in them producing wines at the top of their game. We thought their award was richly deserved.
ROCO Winery’s founder and winemaker, Rollin Soles, makes an impression as soon as he walks in the room. We arrived at his tasting room outside of Newberg, at the north end of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, at 9 a.m. for our appointment with him on a rainy Saturday morning in March. Rollin arrives a few minutes later and takes over the room before he says anything. He has a triathlete’s lean body, a big handle bar moustache, broad smile and a twinkle in his eyes that make you think he would have some great stories to tell. Even though he left Texas almost 30 years ago, he still has plenty of a Matthew McConaughy like drawl. We waited for the “allright, allright”… but it never came. Underneath the drawl, and the twinkle and the warmth is an educated, and articulate man who is passionate about wine and is making some of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noir.
Oregon is now squarely on the radar of top winemakers from Burgundy. Domaine Drouhin Oregon started it all when Burgundian powerhouse Maison Joseph Drouhin acquired property in 1987 in the Willamette Valley and started producing wine. Since then, several big names in Burgundy have started or make wine at wineries in Oregon: Evening Land and Lingua Franca are both projects started with Dominique Lafond of Comtes Lafond; Isabelle Dutarte of Burgundy makes the wine at Oregon’s DePonte Cellars as well as running her own label Callabus Cellars, a project she shares with Domaine Drouhin’s Veronique Boss-Drouhin; and Bruno Corneaux who studied enology and viticulture at the University of Burgundy in Dijon with Veronique Boss-Drouhin has started Domaine Divio. In 2013 a big event happened when another Burgundian powerhouse, this time Maison Louis Jadot, purchased two vineyards in the Willamette Valley and created Résonance. On a recent trip to the Willamette we heard the Résonance story firsthand from its very talented winemaker, Guillaume Large.