In October 2016 I ran two tours to Oregon. Each tour consisted of two days of visits, we were based in Salem which is a lovely town, and enjoyed a great first night dinner at Bentleys Grill where we tried a variety of wines, including some less common West Coast varieties such as Grüner Veltliner and Tempranillo.
We had a fantastic visit to Soter Vineyards, visiting two locations, their North Valley tasting room in Newburg and their Mineral Springs Ranch headquarters. At the North Valley tasting room (a beautiful log cabin with glorious views across the North Willamette Valley) we explored seven wines demonstrating the intricacies of terroir, which changes dramatically from marine to volcanic soil in a small area. At the Ranch we enjoyed a Provisions Lunch tasting – their chef had created a perfect set of small dishes paired with six different wines, a truly delicious experience.
The Four Graces Family Estate in the Dundee Hills gave us another perspective on terroir, this time particularly in relation to Pinot Noir, and the chance to relax in some glorious late afternoon sunshine while tasting.
At Johan Vineyards we enjoyed a distinct Austrian theme (despite the family being of Norwegian heritage), and in addition to some very elegant Chardonnay we tasted a Grüner Veltliner and a Blaufrankisch. And in the cellar we had a barrel tasting of some fermenting Pinot Noir, and a first for everyone – a nibble of Pinot Gris grapes undergoing carbonic maceration!
Left Coast Cellars put on a wonderful show, including a trip round the vineyards in a 1950 Chevrolet truck, stopping at different locations for a glass of wine and insight into the particular aspects of vineyard, forest and the influence of coastal breezes and fog. There is a pizza oven in the winery, which came in handy as we went through some barrel tasting, and we had a superb food and wine pairing lunch.
Our final dinner was at Da Vinci’s restaurant in Salem, and we thoroughly enjoyed going over our experiences. For those of us who had been on the California Tours, Oregon stepped up – the welcome we received was fantastic, and the itineraries the estates had put together to help us really understand their philosophy and the details of their terroir and wines.
For more detail on the tour and our visits please look at the blog.
For more on our California Tours please read the tour report.