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After a Whirlwind Tour of Oregon Pinot Noir, Back in California for Petite Sirah!

July 30, 2011

When I last checked in from my road trip, I had arrived on the coast of Oregon following a few days in the Walla Walla AVA (American Viticultural Area) and around Boise (the Snake River AVA). I did some tasting in Oregon then booked it south to make the big Petite Sirah Symposium and tasting plus a big birthday party for Jim Concannon and Petite Sirah.  (Read more about those events at Wine Predator–what to eat with Petite, PS tasting part 1, and PS tasting part 2.) 

What follows is an overview of what we did and where we went in Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country:

From the Oregon coast, I drove east and north through the heart of the Willamette Valley AVA to stay with my friend, writer Joan MacBeth (pictured), at her family farm in the Chehelem Hills AVA about 30 minutes west and south of Portland. We parked on the grass under the shade of a huge Douglas fir (pictured above); while close to Portland, this area is still agricultural land and remote, complete with gravel roads and no cell or wireless service! We visited and picked some of her father’s proprietary berry (those pictured are raspberries however), and we roamed around the AVA all day as she and a friend picked up wine for an event to raise funds for programs for kids from the Willamette Writers Conference being held in Portland the first weekend in August.

If you like pinot noir and pinot gris, Willamette Valley Oregon is the place to be!

We started at Four Graces in Dundee (named for their four daughters and making lovely pinot noir), then continued down the road a bit to Dobbes where we toured and tasted and had a picnic with an inexpensive but tasty Pinot Noir from their value priced Wine By Joe label. Dobbs is one of the largest wineries in Oregon and they make wine for their own labels as well as for others in their large modern facility. I want to return to Kramer at some time because the women in the Kramer family are definitely running the show there!

At the end of the day, we tasted at Elk Cove and Barrel Fence. Elk Cove is one of the earlier wineries in the region and one of the larger ones while Barrel Fence is one of the newest and very small. Barrel Fence has another claim to fame: Herb Sims (pictured) owns vineyards and makes wine at 45 degrees north in the Dundee Hills of Oregon–and 45 degrees south in Otago New Zealand. He offers tastes of both in his small tasting room up on hill; we picked up a bottle of 45 degrees north for our salmon dinner (retail $24).

The next day, we picked berries and packed our bags to head to McMinnville (pictured is my son riding an old fashioned bike as a bike rack!) again to connect with our friends Mary and John from the coast. What a cute downtown! And healthy too–it has a nice diversity of shops including two bookstores where we picked up Book Two in the Harry Potter series and we all enjoyed ice cream at Serendipity: I had a last blast of Huckleberry plus Northwest Berry and Very Chocolate!

Nearing our van, we stopped in the Willamette Valley Vineyards tasting room. From all the info on the walls about area soils and sustainability projects, I figured it was a regional AVA visitors center but instead it was a tasting room for one of the larger wineries. Mary had never been to a tasting room or a tasting so we tasted their refreshing and mild entry level pinot gris plus two pinot noirs. Mary got a kick out the tasting and the conversation.

We finally said good bye and headed down the road. I was disappointed that there hadn’t been enough time to visit more wineries for my project, wineries that have stories I can tell to infuse meaning into both the ideas of “family” and “sustainability.” Three that I wanted to visit in particular were recommended by fellow wine blogger and writer Ryan Reichart who knows the region well. He had suggested I go to

1. Trisaetum,  on Ribbon Ridge and named for the owners’ two children: their son, Tristen, 13 and their daughter, Tatum, 11;
2. Soléna & Grand Cru Estates as they have a daughter Soléna around 10
3. Coleman Vineyards who have a winemaking 14 year old son
4. Noble Pig because he thought I’d enjoy Cathy and her two sons are fun too

From McMinnville, I could drive south and see if anyone was at Coleman, so that’s what we did –and wow, did we luck out! Randy (pictured in the tasting room and in the Pinot Noir) and Kim Coleman have a brand new tasting room (so new it didn’t even have a sign and we did wander around until we figured out which was the right place and door!) We hit it off, I loved the wines and their stories, and since I wanted to meet their son, they invited us to stick around for dinner so we did (we even spent the night so my son Reed could go with Ryan to fly remote control airplanes and visit the Evergreen Aviation Museum and see the Spruce Goose.)

Randy Coleman opened a library bottle of their 06 Pinot Noir that just knocked my socks off it was so exciting. And their Syrah, made from Columbia Valley grapes, told me that it’s not just an accident of fruit–this husband and wife wine making team were doing it right, and so is their 14 year old son Ryan who started making wine at 7! I will definitely be writing more about them–and their wines.

In the cool of the morning, I learned that the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference would be held in Portland and I celebrated by posting some photos of Pinot Noir in the morning light. I can’t wait to return to Oregon next year!

But in the meantime, I had to head south to make it to the PS I Love You Symposium–time to move on from Pinot Noir to Petite Sirah!

What to eat with your Petite? Ideas from Ellen Landis at PS I Love You Symposium What to eat with your Petite? Ideas from Ellen Landis at PS I Love You Symposium After over three weeks on the road, and tasting wine in Idaho, Walla Walla Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, I made it Monday July 25 to Jim Concannon’s birthday dinner to celebrate his 80th and Petite Sirah at the PS I Love You Petite Sirah Symposium Tuesday July 26 at Concannon Winery in Livermore. (Links to participating wineries and those discussed below the jump; here’s a blog post by Jo Diaz about the events. Pictured below is … Read More

via Wine Predator

You might also enjoy:

Petite Sirahs From The PS I Love You Symposium Tasting: Part 1Wineries A-C

PS I Love You: Let me count the ways!

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 13, 2011 8:32 pm

    We love Archery Summit Pinot Noirs. They created a winery in a hillside and it done like an underground cave. The wines are never pumped, each process flows downward to the next until it reaches the big tanks which are then raised up to flow into the bottles. They are expensive however. We had to get off the list but for awhile we got some amazing Pinot Noirs. It was there that we learned that Pinot Noirs should be opened 45 minutes before serving and we found that tip to be very useful! Luckily we still have some of their wines in our cellar!

    Julieanne Case
    Always from the heart!
    Reconnecting you to your essence, joy, vitality, youth.| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | AgeLoc Skin Care | Pharmanex Supplements

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