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Category: Willamette Valley

Tasting the Bella Vida

Tasting the Bella Vida

Three wines. Each providing a thumbprint and insight into a winemaker’s style. All under one roof. A tour of the Willamette Valley typically provides the curious connoisseur an experience with Pinot Noir, soils and AVA variations, winemaking style, and brand image. The preeminent role of site, however, leaves the taster wondering what effect the winemaker had in comparison to the plot of land and farming that raised the grapes. Enter Bella Vida Vineyard. Located in the rust-hued hills of Dundee,…

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Chapter Deux

Chapter Deux

Starting today, I put all my chips into this world of bottled history and culture. Wagon Wine began in 2014 while I continued my full-time career teaching literature and writing. The site served as a creative outlet, a challenge to deepen my understanding of wine while writing engagingly. After a year of working both in the classroom and for a Willamette Valley producer, Fullerton Wines, I have accepted a full-time position with the Fullerton family. My wife says she can see the child-like…

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Visions through the Mist at the Oregon Wine Symposium

Visions through the Mist at the Oregon Wine Symposium

Last week’s Oregon Wine Symposium provided plenty of fodder for this curious mind. A few tidbits for you, my beloved readers, to ponder and peruse: 2015, the warmest vintage on record in the Willamette Valley, will become the norm between 2035—2045. The wine industry and many others (NASA, ski resorts, Inuit villages, farmers more broadly) take the projections seriously. We should all abide. While we often focus on air temperature increases, ocean and soil temperature rise both pose unique risks, many of which…

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Money Can Buy

Money Can Buy

I, like any good wine shopper, seek out producers over-delivering for their price point. In the nearby Willamette Valley, this means $20-$35 Pinot Noir that tastes like the giants at $50-$80. Last weekend I stopped by Bergström Wines, a hallmark producer in the valley. What I found buckled my knees. The first swirl and smell of three of the four Pinots I tasted left me staggering. Life paused, oh my word, there is a fourth dimension kind of wines. It started with…

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The Head, The Heart, The Slurp

The Head, The Heart, The Slurp

I recently attended an Oregon Syrah tasting with a trio of Willamette Valley winemakers and a few other industry compatriots. We tasted through seven different Oregon Syrahs, including a vertical from Dion Vineyard in the Willamette Valley produced by Anne Hubatch of Helioterra. Violet-blue in color, the 2013 Dion grabbed me by the shoulders and force-focused my energy directly into the glass. Confident white pepper aromatics lead, followed by spice, blueberry, and boysenberry. Floral undertones add a lovely, gentle layer. This…

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Weekend in the Willamette: A Photo Excursion

Weekend in the Willamette: A Photo Excursion

Last Saturday I ventured to the motherland of Oregon Pinot Noir, the northern Willamette Valley. The Saturday before Thanksgiving has become an insider’s haven. Wine club members and guests come to barrel sample, pick-up shipments, and celebrate the upcoming releases without the throngs of Thanksgiving embibers seeking liquid relief from extended family. A brief photo tour highlights the day.  

Focus on Fruit

Focus on Fruit

There are no short cuts. As a new “insider” to the wine trade, I walk the hallowed halls with antennas tuned for insight. For one, I hope to uncover the vineyard gems that supply the best value Pinot Noirs in the valley. I, like many of you, spend most of my nights sipping wines in the $10-$20 price range. The Willamette Valley, however, only seems to deliver $20-$60 Pinot. How can we reconcile this dilemma? Nearly half of Oregon producers purchase…

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Film Review: American Wine Story

Film Review: American Wine Story

Wine fanatics and Northwest-rooted wine drinkers take note; American Wine Story will leave you swooning for the open air of the West, and an ethereal glass of Riesling (or Pinot Noir or Doubleback). Created by Three Crows Productions, the film will undoubtedly snare those who appreciate wine documentaries like Somm. The opening series expresses well the allure, the caress that captures wine lovers and never, ever lets go. Well respected and novice wine advocates alike divulge their personal coming-of-wine story (Scott Wright, Dick Erath, Harry Peterson-Nedry, Drew…

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Bombs Away: Syrah in the Willamette

Bombs Away: Syrah in the Willamette

As mentioned in my last post, I have two significant memories from my summer of tasting through the Willamette Valley. Stoller Family Estate provides the second provocative impression. After tasting through six wines at Stoller, all truly respectable, I find myself wanting more. . . syrah from the Willamette Valley. Stoller’s Single Acre Estate Syrah brought one eye brow up, and forced a second glance at the label. Syrah from the Willamette? Syrah brings most minds to the hot climes…

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Chapter 24 Vineyards–a Luscious Welcome

Chapter 24 Vineyards–a Luscious Welcome

Courtesy of Chapter 24 Vineyards Steph, my spouse, and I relocated to Portland, Oregon in June. Steph is a Portland native, and we are both thrilled to be back in the northwest where we met. I have many passions that Oregon can reward–wine rises high on the list. Summer weekends spent in the tasting rooms and wineries of the Willamette Valley left me with two very notable memories. Today will focus on the first. Chapter 24 Vineyards is a relative…

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