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What to Drink Now: Noteworthy Northwest Pinot

Spectacular Willamette Valley wines.
By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |

I’m often asked what my favorite wine is. This is impossible to answer, as it changes based on mood, food, season or circumstance. One wine I could drink daily, however, is Pinot Noir. Particularly from Willamette Valley. Here are a few selections to consider. (A few were sent for editorial consideration.)

Donna Morris of Winderlea (left) & Eugenia Keegan of Gran Moraine

Perhaps I love Willamette Valley wine because of the people. The stewardship of the land is always at the forefront, but it is the commitment to the success of the region by helping each other succeed that makes this place special. From Eugenia Keegan of Gran Moraine and David Adelshiem of Adelsheim, Stoller Family Winery’s Bill Stoller and his talented winemaker, Melissa Burr, Donna Morris and Bill Sweat of Winderlea, Corby and Rollin Soles of Roco, Annie and Scott Schull of Raptor Ridge, Jay McDonald of EIEIO, and many more, the heart of Willamette Valley wine shines through the the people. Add in the terroir for producing character driven Pinot Noir and you have a successful match made in wine-heaven.

Solar panels on the tasting room at Stoller Family Winery

The high elevation Dundee Hills sub-AVA has been a long-time favorite. Volcanic, Jory soils add a layer of mineral-intensity to delicate Pinot Noir, defining the character of the region, from wineries like Stoller Family Winery.

When Bill Stoller turned his family’s turkey farm into a vineyard in 1995, he focused on giving back to the community his family had been a part of for generations. Last week Stoller Family Estate received a new certification for their efforts to work eco-friendly, B Corp Certification, recognizing their efforts in social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. Bonus, they also make incredible wine.

Siduri recently introduced their Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir from fruit grown at sister winery, Gran-Moraine, layered with fresh fig and ripe plum ($35). Spec’s carries Siduri Willamette Valley & Russian River Pinot Noir.

California’s Etude Estate has expanded beyond Carneros into regions throughout California, Oregon, and New Zealand with single vineyard Pinot Noir wines. Etude Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir ($60) is juicy fresh, with cranberry and pomegranate, available here.

Domaine Drouhin celebrates their 30th anniversary this year in Willamette. From Burgundy producer, Joseph Drouhin, the winery is dedicated to crafting wines with Oregon personality, and a French spirit. In the southern Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA they have added their latest addition, the 35-acre Rose Rock vineyard. Heavily influenced by Oregon coastal breezes, Rose Rock Pinot Noir ($38) layers blackberry, wildflower, and toasted spice. A long-time favorite, their Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($35) is structured and beautifully balanced. At Pogo’s.

There are few Willamette vineyards with as much character, or history, as Shea Vineyard. Penner-Ash Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir reveals the subtle nuances of the vineyard, with layers of black plum and earthy mushroom. $65, here. Spec’s carries their Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($50).

I recently enjoyed a 2004 library selection of EIEIO Cuvee O Pinot Noir, layered with earthy, dusty notes melding with spice, fruit, and oak. Intriguing and thought-provoking, ideal on its own to understand the wine’s intricacies and richness. The current 2012 release is available here.

The Durant family has been farming their Dundee Hills vineyards for over 40 years. In 2008 they added 17 acres of olive trees and a state-of-the-art Italian mill, creating Oregon Olive Oil. Now, you can enjoy both their Durant Vineyards wine and grassy Oregon Olive Oil when visiting their Dundee Hills estate, or through gift-packages, available here.

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