Willamette Valley Wineries
Will be in the Dayton area of Willamette Valley for 2 days later this week. We're interested in visiting boutique wineries with wines that are hard to find on the east coast. I've searched this board (at leonardo's suggestion!) and gather that the following wineries should be on our list:
Domain Drouhin (for quality, altho probably not boutique)
Are these all within an easy drive of Dayton/Dundee?
Are there any you'd remove from or add to this list?
Sokol Blosser is decent for value, though I would not say it is one of the best OR wineries.
I am HORRIBLE with OR geography, so this list has absolutely nothing to do with geography except that all these wineries are located within the state of OR, HOWEVER, my favorite OR wineries in *rough* descending order are:
Domaine Serene (would be higher but for price)
Argyle (for complete package)
I would try and plot out your visiting so you pick some wineries that are close to each other. For instance - Hit Domain Serene, then Domain Drouhin and then Archery Summit. All within a few minutes of each other and close to Dundee.
Then consider heading to Carlton and visit the wineries there. Carlton is about maybe 20-25 minutes from Dundee. Hit the winemakers studio, Scott Paul and the other wineries close to Carlton.
If you decide to hit the Eola Hills and wineries like Cristom etc you can do the same thing.
Lots of wonderful places to eat in Dundee, Carlton and McMinnville also.
I will be up there next week and looking forward to it.
Be sure to remember not to store a bunch of wine in your trunk, easy way to ruin some 2006 Oregon Pinot Noir's.
I would certainly second Four Graces. I buy wine for a small speciality shop in NE Florida and this is one of our top sellers, both the Pinot Noir and their Pinot Gris. Very high quality, consistent and affordable. Family owned and run, biodynamicly farmed and the Four Graces are their 4 daughters. Great story, very good wine.
I've read on this board that it's worth the extra money to get reserves when buying OR pinot noirs. So, last night at the Side Door Cafe, I asked if they had any reserves on their list. They suggested a 2004 Dobbes Family Estate pinot from the Rogue Valley. The label said "Skipper's Cuvee." The owner explained that this term is replacing the use of the word "reserve," but essentially means the same. True? We're heading to Willamette Valley today and so would like to know.
Others more knowledgeable than me may pipe in, but I don't think there's any real rules on what may be called a "reserve" or a "cuvee". The implication (and often, the actual practice) is that a "reserve" represents a special selection of grapes or barrels that the winemaker thinks are higher quality, but that's subjective and often not an assurance that YOU will like the reserve better than another bottling - or even that it really is different from another bottling.
For instance, I recall a couple years ago there was a release of an Oregon Pinot Noir under the name "Cathy" for which there was ONLY a "Reserve" bottling - no "base" bottling. It happened to be made by Sidney Frank, the marketing genius who somemow managed to sell generations of college kids on Jagermeister, so go figure. (It also happened to be a very nice wine).
As for "cuvee," it literally means a blend or mix, and is typically used to indicate that the grapes in the wine came from several different vineyards. That does not mean the same thing as "reserve" (as it is commonly used), though a "reserve" very well may be a "cuvee". For many winemakers, the "cuvee" is the lower-end bottling - which doesn't mean it's bad.
Typically more expensive, and what I generally find to be the most intriguing (and more significant to me than whether it's designated as a "reserve"), are the single-vineyard wines, made only from one particular vineyard. One of the interesting things about tasting through Willamette Valley is that several winemakers often will have access to different parcels of the same vineyard, so that for instance you can try a Shea Vineyard pinot from any number of different producers.
As for Dobbes, they apparently make three different "cuvees" at 3 progressively higher price points, and then also have a few single-vineyard designates at a higher price point than any of the cuvees.
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