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My first trip to Oregon wine country

Thinking about the Wine Bloggers Conference coming up, I searched again for my posts (for another blog) that I wrote last summer. This time I remembered to try the Wayback Machine – and found Part 1! So, I’m adding it here, before Part 2….. (Note that all photos are small – I don’t have the original files, just what I could copy from the Wayback Machine. I wish I knew where the original photos were on my hard drive.)

© Ilona Koren-Deutsch

Part 1

Over July 4th weekend [2011], I went to the Willamette Valley with my dad and a friend. With so much to taste, and so much of that very, very good, what follows are highlights, rather than a comprehensive listing of everything I drank….

Port. Who knew?

I bet you thought I’d start with Pinot Noir! But, that’s so obvious….

Clear Creek Distillery

As we drank our way from tasting room to tasting room, I learned something. It seems that the best wineries in the Willamette Valley are all making port. Pinot port, Syrah port, even, in one case, port from Maréchal Foch grapes. One thing they all seem to have in common is that the alcohol used to spike the fermenting juice is artisan brandy made by Clear Creek of Portland. My next trip up there, remind me to visit Clear Creek.

My favorites were (in no particular order):

  • CJ, Sineann: Port made from “very ripe” Zinfandel. Blackberries and pepper, with a very smooth finish and a surprising orange zest aroma.
  • 2007 Syrah Port, Torii Mor: Earth and dark berries on the nose. The flavors include the same berries, but also spices and heat from the alcohol.
  • 2005 Estate Pinot Noir Port, David Hill: Blueberries and chocolate, soft spice.
  • 2006 Serenidade, Coelho: Port from Maréchal Foch grapes. Ripe figs and walnuts.


Ponzi rosé

I saw only one, Ponzi’s, and we happily drank a bottle of it with lunch. Nothing is better than rosé on a hot day, and I just can’t figure out why there isn’t more of it up there….






More photos

Peace Bell, Torii Mor

Vineyard, Sineann

David Hill Winery

Tasting room, Coelho

Part 2

Pinot – Noir et Blanc – are in the air today, so I went hunting on Google for old posts I’d written for another blog. Last summer, this was the second half of a a two-part post. Unfortunately Part 1 seems to have been lost in the ether. However, I found Part 2, so I’m resurrecting it….

Pinot. White Pinot.

Anyone who knows me (or reads what I write) knows that I like white wine. And for all the well-deserved fuss over Oregon’s Pinot Noir, I want to make sure the whites aren’t neglected. So, a tip of the hat to my two favorites:

Torii Mor, 2009 Pinot Blanc
At $20/bottle one of the most expensive white wines I tasted, but worth the money. (Yes, some came home with me.)

Rogue Valley fruit, aged in 20% neutral oak, the wine has aromas of apples and cloves, with a hint of creme brulée. The flavors show citrus, pineapple, spice and some minerality. There’s a good finish, with lasting fruit notes and spiciness.

Eyrie Vineyards, 2008 Pinot Gris
The first planting of Pinot Gris in the New World took place in the Eyrie Vineyard in 1970. In this vintage, aromas of melon and minerals, but mostly floral. This blend of grapes from all four vineyards shows and fermented in stainless steel tanks, the wine shows complexity not often found in Pinot Gris from remaining on the lees until bottling.

Eyrie is also notable because in 1979 in Paris and in 1980 in Beaune their 1975 Pinot Noir brought international attention to Oregon, which won its first recognition as the New World home for Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir (a little bit of it)

To be honest, I delayed this section, because I just don’t know where to start. I thought I’d go for cute, and wrote (read: stole code and adapted) this nifty Javascript thing that scrolled a list of two Pinots from each of my favorite wineries (minus the special shout-out to follow) – and now I can’t make it work in Blogger. Isn’t technology fabulous? Pace Google, why aren’t we using WordPress?

And so, that same list without the cute scrolling effect but with whatever random notes I took in the tasting rooms. They’re not necessarily tasting notes. I could steal those from their respective websites where I’m missing my own comments, but you can also look that up for yourselves if you want. Or, better yet, drink the wine!

Eyrie Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve “Original Vines”
24-months in barrel, no new oak, mostly neutral barrels. These are the winery’s original vines in their original vineyard.

Eyrie Vineyards, La Luz Pinot Noir
A one-time bottling made to benefit the Cellar Master’s wife, who needed a kidney transplant. Mostly 2007 but some 2006 and some 2008. A soft wine, with chocolate on the finish.

David Hill 2007 Estate Barrel Select Pinot Noir
Aromas of berries and spice, spice on the finish. 1.5 years in the barrel. A bargain at $22/bottle.

David Hill 2007 Estate BlackJack Pinot Noir
From Block 21 (BlackJack, get it?), planted in 1965. Aromas of cherry and vanilla, spice on the palate.

Soléna 2008 Guadalupe Pinot Noir
From the Dundee Hills AVA. Cherry cola, anise and violet on the nose, smoke and spice on the palate.

Soléna 2008 Zena Crown Pinot Noir
Eola-Amity Hills. Red berries and minerals. Long finish, chocolate/coffee.

Torii Mor 2008 Olalla Vineyard Pinot Noir
Hot weather/Umpqua Valley. Sweet, floral aroma. Earthy flavors, both red and black berries, and caramel notes from the oak.

Torii Mor 2008 Hawks View Vineyard Pinot Noir
Floral (rose) aromas, sweet-tart cherry flavors – tart at the beginning, sweeter on the finish.

A special shout-out for Sineann….

Sineann make so many different wines that I just can’t write about them in the same category as the other producers I visited. They use local Oregon grapes, but also grapes from Washington, California and New Zealand. They focus on making small batches of intense wine. Most of their wines are vineyard designated. Crop levels are kept very low, one to three tons per acre. All fruit is hand sorted, delicately destemmed, punched down by hand, gently pressed and gravity racked. The wines are aged in new and one-year-old French oak. They also use unique glass corks (Is that an oxymoron? What else would you call them?), which you can read about on their website.

The bottom line is, they strive to make great wine. “It’s the only kind of wine that makes it onto our dinner table. It’s exciting to make and gratifying to share. We believe that food and drink, lovingly prepared, make for happier and healthier people.”

Finally, Peter Rosback, the winemaker, is also a great host. When you visit Sineann (tasting is in the barrel room, which I never stop finding fun) you feel like he’s welcoming you to his home and sharing a part of himself. In my opinion, that’s what visiting wine country should be about.

Links for wineries:


David Hill Vineyard & Winery:

The Eyrie Vineyards:

Solena & Grand Cru Estates:

Sineann Wines:

Torii Mor Winery:

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