Oregon Wines, Beyond Pinot

A vineyard in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills AVA

In the world of wine, Oregon is best known for its Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris — and for good reason. For the last few decades, the state has produced countless examples that are ranked among the world’s best. But there is so much more to this diverse winemaking state than just these two grapes, and beyond its best-known winemaking region of Willamette Valley. In fact, the number of Oregon wineries has been on the rise in recent years, and now tops over 900 wineries growing more than 80 types of grapes. If you want to expand your knowledge and collection of Oregon-crafted wines, look no further than these standout bottles.

2018 Analemma Wines Mosier Hills Grenache

2018 Analemma Wines Mosier Hills Grenache, Columbia Gorge, $42

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When you think of Oregon wines, you may not think Grenache. But this energetic beauty will leave a lasting impression. Its aromas of violets, lavender, and cinnamon and palate of salmonberries and cherries are a beautiful representation of the Columbia Gorge AVA, which sits at the top of the state, separated from Washington State by the mighty Columbia River.

“It is rare to find a 100% Grenache with such transparency & vibrancy. The concrete egg seemed to be the perfect vessel to mature this wine for 15 months while maintaining freshness,” says Analemma founder and winemaker, Steven Thompson.

If you’re able to visit the tasting room in person, take a tip from this Oregonian and add on a hike at Tom McCall Preserve, which is just a few miles away. Not only does it offer spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge, Washington State, and a colorful array of wildflowers nearly year-round, but it also will help you visualize and understand how Analemma vineyard and the region at large were sculpted by the historic Missoula Floods.

2013 HillCrest Vineyard Old Stones Malbec

2013 HillCrest Vineyard Old Stones Malbec, Umpqua Valley, $45

Oregon’s oldest estate winery, Hillcrest Vineyards, was established by Richard Sommer (AKA the “Father of Oregon Wine”) back in 1961. At the time, he was advised by his UC Davis horticulture colleagues that it was impossible to successfully grow wine grapes in Oregon. Sommer didn’t listen, and became the first to plant Pinot Noir in the state — in what’s now the Umpqua Valley AVA, which is situated between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges in the southwestern part of Oregon.

Sixty years later, Hillcrest Vineyards’ roster boasts stellar reds including Pinot, Tempranillo, and Malbecs like the 2013 Old Stones. Boasting aromas and a palate of intense stewed fruit with notes of woody herbs and tobacco, it’s a chewy Malbec with a lingering finish.

2016 Rasa Vineyards Veritas Sequitur Estate Syrah

2016 Rasa Vineyards Veritas Sequitur Estate Syrah, The Rocks District of Milton Freewater, $115

Dense, dark purple, and with a beguiling bouquet of raspberry, red plum, olive, and pepper, this Syrah from hails from The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater.

The AVA, which is situated at the northeastern corner of Oregon in the Walla Walla Valley, became the state’s eighteenth AVA in 2015.

2015 Valcan Cellars Syrah

2015 Valcan Cellars Syrah, Rogue Valley, $30

The Rogue Valley is the southernmost winegrowing region in Oregon, extending from the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains on the California border, and north to the Rogue River.

It’s here that Valcan Cellars crafts this elegant Syrah. Just 104 cases were made by Juan Pablo Valot, who started crafting wines in his native Argentina. Full-bodied with aromas of dark, ripe berries and smoke, it’s a bold wine with smooth tannins and a long, powerful finish.

2018 Walter Scott Wines Seven Springs Vineyard Chardonnay

2018 Walter Scott Wines Seven Springs Vineyard Chardonnay, Eola-Amity Hills, $65

Chardonnay is one of the most exciting grapes in Oregon right now. Case in point: Walter Scott’s dry-farmed 100% Chardonnay from the iconic Seven Springs Vineyard in Willamette Valley’s Eola-Amity Hills AVA.

Boasting fresh aromas of lemon curd, orange zest, ripe strawberries, and peach blossoms and a palate of nectarine, tender herbs, lemon peel, and saline notes, it’s a crisp and nuanced Chardonnay with a gorgeous texture.

For more information about Oregon wines, including travel guides, tasting room listings, podcasts, events, and more, visit the Oregon Wine Board.

I’m a publishing vet who’s been on the staffs of Domino, Martha Stewart Living, Metropolitan Home, and Every Day with Rachael Ray magazines, and was Senior Digital Editor

 

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