Monday, December 5, 2022 Dec 5, 2022
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What I’m Drinking Now: Winderlea

By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |

Winderlea - Bill, Donna and MontyOn our recent trip to Oregon we found a new gem in the Dundee hills of Willamette Valley that I fell completely in love with for the quality of the wine, the sustainable practices, and how cool the tasting room was!

Winderlea Vineyard and Winery was created in 2006 by Donna Morris and Bill Sweat as an adventure, pursuit of passion and definitely second career.  The elegance and sensuality of Pinot Noir became their passion in the 1990’s as they worked successful financial careers in Boston, Massachusetts.  Traveling to France and enjoying some of the world’s best Burgundies was the foundation of their pursuit to start a new life making artisanal, craftsman style, small production wine in the part of the country most often equated to Burgundy. 

Their Dundee Hills vineyard is rich with Jory, volcanic red clay soil, which adds incredible depth and flavor to their Pinot Noir.  They are proud to be a sustainable vineyard which earned a LIVE (low input viticulture and enology) certification last year, and started the process to make the vineyard to be Biodynamic in 2009.  Their goal is to grow grapes and nurture vines with the environment always in mind.  The Oregon Governor and Oregon Wine Board gave the state’s wineries a challenge to become carbon neutral.  Winderlea is one of 13 in the state to commit to the challenge.  Donna and Bill believe that excellent wine comes from superb vines  Their efforts for the environment ensures their vineyard will successfully produce quality grapes year after year.

The tasting room is beautiful and surprising.  Completely modern, contemporary and filled with sunlight, it is essentially a glass block with clean lines, omitting the fuss and fluff that tasting rooms often have.  The space was designed by Ernest Munch (who also designed another favorite Oregon winery – Domaine Drouhin) to be sustainable with the use of solar panels to provide the building’s electricity.  The concrete floor created from recycled materials can store heat and energy absorbed from the day’s sunlight to keep the space comfortable throughout the year.  The idea is to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Dundee Hills; the sustainable effects are the bonus. 

The wine displays Donna and Bill’s desire to create intense, elegant, age-worthy Pinot Noir reminiscent of some of their favorites, skillfully utilizing the Oregon soil, climate and growing conditions to emphasize the earthy, mineral rich qualities found in the region. 

Winderlea 2007 Chardonnay is reminiscent of a classic Chablis, matching mineral complexity with balanced acidity.  87% was barrel fermented, 13% fermented in stainless steal and then blended and aged in French oak for 10 months. The use of the barrel in this clean, crisp wine adds finesse.  The flavor is intense green apple, peach, apricot with slight tropical fruit, followed by creamy vanilla.

Winderlea 2007 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir is a blend of the estate vineyard’s best  including select Dijon clones and Pommard.  The juice is allowed to remain on the grape skins for 8-10 days after initial fermentation and then aged for 9 months in select French barrels.  The wine is deep garnet red in color with hearty cherry, berry and herbal notes.

Winderlea Ana Pinot Noir blends Pommard with Dijon 777 clones to create an earthy, luxurious wine filled with strawberry, raspberry, earthy  floral notes.  Easy drinking, this was lovely to enjoy on their patio overlooking the vines.