Checking In On Small Wineries in the Willamette Valley
VIDON Vineyard, Newberg
This small, family owned vineyard and winery has a very interesting story. Named for proprietors Vicky and
Don Hagge, Vidon produces 100% estate grown Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah and Tempranillo. Don
Hagge is a retired space scientist whose career included particle research with Ernest Lawrence and time at
NASA. Vicky and Don founded Vidon Vineyard in 1999 when the initial Pinot Noir plantings were established.
Planting continued through 2001 and included grafting over the “828” clone vines to Erath 95 clone.
In July 2017, shortly before I visited the winery, Don announced that molecular biologist David Bellows joined
Vidon as head winemaker, doubling the number of science PhDs in the Vidon Cellar. With this boost in
brainpower for the winemaking team, 85-year-old Hagge plans to turn the primary winemaking to Bellows, and
focus on sales and general business operations. Bellow began working harvests in the Willamette Valley in
2011 and currently teaches wine-related science courses at Chemeketa Community College.
Together, Hagge and Bellos run Vidon’s cellar like a science lab, emphasizing quality and predictability of
results. Because the barrel room at Vidon is small, Hagge has experimented with using compact Australian
plastic tanks and French oak staves for aging his wines. The winery also uses no corks, preferring sterile glass
stoppers to avoid all risk of taint while minimizing variability. Hagge built a unique bottling line for glass stoppers
as well as a proprietary argon gas wine preservation system for the tasting room.
Bellows kids that the winery is one big science experiment, and “Now if we can just find a harvest intern with a
PhD in organic chemistry, we will be set.”
The intimate tasting room and pavilion (pictured) are open 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on winter weekends and
holidays, and Thursday through Monday the rest of the year. Midweek tastings are available by appointment.
Visit the website at www.vidonvineyard.com.
A few recent vintages of Vidon Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have been reviewed previously in the PinotFile:
www.princeofpinot.com/winery/999/. Here are brief notes on wines tasted at the winery in July.
2016 VIDON Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Chardonnay This wine was tasted both
from an oak puncheon and a plastic Flextank. The differences were noticeable: the Chardonnay from the
Flextank was more aromatic, fruitier and brighter, while the Chardonnay from the oak puncheon was less fruity,
softer, with subtle oak highlights. The Estate Chardonnay combines wines from the two aging vessels.
2016 VIDON Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Viognier $20, screwcap (unreleased). Pale
yellow gold color in the glass. Typical tropical fruit aromas of Viognier. Pleasing tropical fruit notes on the palate
that is fresh and not cloying. Juicy acidity runs through the background. 88.
2015 VIDON Vineyard Estate Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Chardonnay Reviewed 5/6/17.
88-89. Steely and a bit nutty, with a good cut of acidity on finish.
2015 VIDON Vineyard Estate Apollo Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Chardonnay Reviewed
5/6/17. 91-92. Noticeable citrus drive, rounded, with good balance and finish.
2015 VIDON Vineyard Estate Melange Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 360 cases, $30. A blend of all clones in the estate vineyard. Aromas of blueberry, cherry
and peppery herbs. Bright with vivid flavors of cherry and blueberry backed by a touch of herbal oak.
2012 VIDON Vineyard Estate Mirabelle Clone 115 Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., $40. Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose lacks aromatic charm, featuring onluy
woodland path and woody aromas. Highly concentrated black fruit sap that lacks character and nuance. A bold
intensely fruited finish. Syrah-like in character. 87.
2011 VIDON Vineyard Estate Barrel Select Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 13.9% alc.,
99 cases, $80. Aromas of earthy flora, peppery spices and herbs. Light to mid weight flavors of earthy black
fruits with accents of tea, leather and oak. Noticeable dry tannins on the finish. 91.
2015 VIDON Vineyard Estate Explorer Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Tempranillo 13.4% alc.,
$50. Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Pleasing aromatics with hi-tone aromas of dark berry melange.
Forward drinking core of blackberry and spice flavors with a deft touch of oak and a generous finish. 90.
2014 VIDON Vineyard Estate Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Syrah 13.6% alc., $40. 5% Viognier.
Moderate dark garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black raspberry and spice. Full-bodied
essence of black raspberry and blackberry fruits with a riff of dark chocolate. Big, but balanced tannins and an
intensely fruity finish of notable length. 90.
2015 VIDON Vineyard Estate Saturn Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Syrah 13.6% alc., $50. Dark
garnet color in the glass. The nose is rather primary, displaying jammy black fruit aromas. More reserved than
the 2014 bottling with more oak showing at this stage. Impressive fruit concentration with heft, but
complimentary tannins and a grand finish. Truly age worthy. 91.
Note: Oregon cool climate Syrah is a little known gem. I have tasted a number of Syrahs from the Willamette
Valley and have found them to be excellent. Syrah just can’t get any respect and these wines often languish
without their due.
Privé Vineyard, Newberg
Those that are regular readers of the PinotFile know that I have been a big fan of the Pinot Noirs produced by
Tina and Mark Hammond from their 2-acre vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains. The due work in tandem with
Mark managing the vineyard and Tina making the wine. Tina is a self-taught winemaker with a natural talent for
crafting Pinot Noir.
The vineyard is planted to Pommard clone on 37-year-old rootstock in Jory soil. Three wines are bottled: “le
sud” from the south 1 acre, “le nord” from the north 1 acre, and “Joie de Vivre,” a reserve etched bottling. The
wines are typically de-stemmed and aged in 100% new Seguin Moreau French oak barrels.
The Hammonds started with a tiny winery that suited their very small production. Through the years, some
grapes have been sourced and Syrah has been added. A new larger and visually charming winery was added
in recent years (see photo below) and the old winery was converted to a tasting room and event center.
The wines are sold only through dedicated members of a mailing list. Limited appointments are available for
tasting because there is so little wine produced. Visit the website at www.privevineyard.com.
I have tasted almost every release of Privé Pinot Noir going back to 2003 (the first vintage was 2001). Included
here are some reviews of past vintages that I recently sampled.
2006 Privé Vineyard le sud Yamhill County Oregon Pinot Noir
Moderately light garnet color in
the glass with no rim bricking. Complex array of aromas including black cherry, spices including cardamom and
cinnamon, dark chocolate, sweet oak and earthy flora. An impressive wine in a very warm year, showing a
sleek core of black cherry, raspberry, spice and smoke flavors. Polished, with immersed tannins and some
finishing generosity. The fruit is a bit too far on the ripe side, but otherwise this is a beautiful wine that has aged
magnificently. Drink now to 2022.
2008 Privé Vineyard le nord Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
color in the glass. Exotic perfume that gathers intensity and spice over time in the glass, sporting
aromas of blackest cherry, violets, burnt tobacco, warn leather and earthy flora. Aging beautifully with
years ahead, offering a mid weight charge of black cherry and blackberry fruits with added notes of
spice, cola, BBQ rub, tobacco, herbs and earth. A complex wine with merged tannins and a slight citrus
note on the finish. Holds up well over time in the glass. Drink now to 2028.
2010 Privé Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
Moderately dark garnet color in the
glass. Aromas of muddled cherry, spice, vanilla and mocha lead to a middleweight fresh and vivid core of
woodsy black cherry fruit. Sleek with resolved tannins and a compliment of tobacco and chocolate oak-driven
notes in background. Fades a bit over time in the glass. Drink up.
2010 Privé Vineyard le nord Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
Moderate garnet color in
the glass. Very sexy nose featuring aromas of black cherry, dark red rose, mulch and vanilla. Light to mid
weight in style with a grandiose core of black cherry fruit with a complimentary oak flourish. Impressive
intensity from entry to the lengthy finish with enough tannic backbone to carry the wine another five years.
Drink now to 2022.
2011 Privé Vineyard le sud Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
Moderate garnet color in
the glass. The nose offers a combination of black cherry and toasted oak aromas. Light to mid weight in style,
with a good attack of black cherry and blueberry fruits framed by a touch of oak. The wine enters better than it
finishes. Nicely balanced and pleasurable if unassuming.
2011 Privé Vineyard Joie de Vivre Yamhill County Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc. #38 of 108 bottles.
garnet color in the glass. The nose leads off with an array of black stone fruits. Mid weight plus in style, with a
hefty load of sappy black fruits and a muscular tannin load to match. The wine builds in intensity over time in
the glass and sports a very long finish. Still a stodgy black fruited demon that offers little more than fruit even
when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Drink now to 2022.
2012 Privé Vineyard le nord Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
Moderately dark garnet
color in the glass. The black cherry, black raspberry and boysenberry fruits have a mild highly ripened, roasted
quality. Mid weight plus in style with impressive richness of flavor, yet light on its feet. The fruit is well framed by
nutty oak and firm tannins. Rather seamless and velvety in texture. Drink now to 2023.
2012 Privé Vineyard le sud Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
garnet color in the glass. Appealing scents of black cherry, bittersweet dark chocolate, coal and
underbrush. A delicious bombastic wine with great balance between richness of flavor and energetic
verve, offering mid weight plus flavors of black cherry and boysenberry. So luscious, so satiny, so
dreamy. This wine has the tannin structure to easily be a 15-year wine. Drink now to 2027.
2013 Privé Vineyard le nord Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
Moderate garnet color in
the glass. The nose is very shy and weedy with a hint of red cherry and berry. Lighter weighted, elegant and
straightforward with a core of cherry fruit accented with baking spices. The fine-grain tannins are mellow and
the wine shows good harmony, but it is austere and the fruit trends toward under ripeness.
Bells Up Winery, Newberg
Located a very short distance from Privé Vineyard, this newer winery was established by David and Sara
Specter in 2012. David pursued a winemaking career after a legal career beginning in 2009. He trained under
Bryan Weil, the winemaker at Alexana Winery and Myron Redford of Amity Vineyards. Neighbors Tina and
Mark Hammond of Privé vineyard have served as mentors.
The first wines were from the 2013 vintage, all produced from sourced grapes. The 9-acre estate vineyard is
planted to five clones of Pinot Noir will come into production in the 2019 vintage The first estate Pinot Noir
Rosé will be released from the 2017 vintage. The wines have shown more promise in each succeeding vintage.
The tasting room is in a former barn and open by appointment. Visit www.bellsupwinery.com.
2016 Bells Up Prelude Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir 13.1% alc., pH 3.41, TA 0.64, 75 cases, $22.
Released April 1, 2017. Clones 115 and 777 (50% each). Average harvest Brix 23.9º. Fermented in stainless
steel, then brief aging 5 months neutral French oak barrels with full malolactic fermentation. Moderate ruby red
color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, watermelon and peppery herbs. A savory, herbal style with fortuitous
2015 Bells Up Titan Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 13.3% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.61, 108 cases, $40. Release fall
2017. Yamhill-Carlton Dijon clones 115 and 777 (58%) and Pommard (42%). Harvest Brix 25.1º. Aged 7
months in French oak barrels, 30% new. Light garnet color in the glass. soaring aromas of cherry and spice.
Well-crafted in a mid weight style with copious blueberry, cherry and Asian spice goodness framed by
proportioned tannins. 92.
2015 Bells Up Villanelle Tonnelier Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Reserve Pinot Noir 13.3% alc., pH 3.57, TA
0.60, 54 cases, $54. Sourced from a 3.5-acre vineyard with sedimentary Willakenzie soil. 100% free-run
juice.Equal parts Dijon 115 and 777 (15-year-old vines) aged for 7 months in French oak barrels. Light ruby red
color in the glass. Engaging aromas of blueberry and cherry echoed on the palate. Juicy and vivid with inviting
spice and coffee notes in a mid weight style with a grand finish. Easy to like now but has the goods to age. 93.
2015 Bells Up Firebird Summit View Vineyard Walla Walla Valley Washington Syrah Vinified in same
manner as Pinot Noir. Moderate purple color in the glass. A big and bold wine in character for Syrah but not
excessively so or jammy. Blue and purple fruits are well spiced. Intense attack and finish. More tannin than one
encounters with Pinot Noir, but not imposing. 90.
Ruby Vineyard & Winery, Hillsboro
This is a newer winery not as yet on many pinotphile’s radar, but it has significant historical foundations and a
new winemaking team that should bring the winery prominence.
In 1973, John and Beth Hiestand planted own-rooted Wädenswil 1A clone from the South Block of Eyrie
Vineyards acquired from David Lett. The cuttings were rooted next to the barn on the property and planted the
In 1979, Bill Beran, a physicist planted the bulk of the vineyard, 7 acres, to own-rooted Pommard, Riesling and
Chardonnay. The white wine vines were grafted to Dijon 115 Pinot Noir in 1990. Organically farmed from the
beginning, the vineyard was planted on Laurelhurst (Laurelwood) soil, a combination of Jory and Willakenzie
soil types. Bill and Sharon Beran converted the diary barn to a winery and launched Beran Vineyards & Winery
with their first vintage in 1997.
The property was first homesteaded in 1875 by John McFee. Abijah Hendricks homesteaded a parcel of land
near Carlton, Oregon after arriving on a wagon train in 1843. In 2012, his great-great grandson, Stephen
Hendricks, a lawyer and fifth generation Oregonian, returned to his roots in the Willamette Valley, acquiring the
Beran Estate Vineyard and winery and establishing Ruby Vineyard. Currently the vineyard has 7.5 acres of old
vine Pinot Noir dating to 1973-1979 and 1.8 acres of newly planted vines (cuttings of Wädenswil 1A taken from
old plantings and 3 Dijon clones of Chardonnay).
Winemaking at Ruby since the 2016 vintage is under the direction of consulting winemaker Eric Hamacher and
assistant winemaker Andrew Kirkland. Eric has 22 vintages under his belt in Oregon, 12 of those at Carlton
Winemaker’s Studio. Andrew worked in wine retail in Seattle and New York and was exposed to many great
wines. His recent winemaking experience came at Brittan Vineyards.
Current capacity is 3,500-4,000 cases per year. Current wines offered include Chardonnay, Rosé of Pinot Gris,
and four 2015 Pinot Noirs. I tasted through the 2015 Pinot Noirs in the tasting room with Eric and Andrew and
then barrel tasted several 2016 Pinot Noirs in the winery. It is clear that this winemaking team is enthusiastic
about the potential of this iconic vineyard and the 2016 wines will be special.
The tasting room at Ruby is open six days a week (closed Tuesdays) with private tastings available with the
owner or winemakers by appointment. Visit www.rubyvineyard.com. The historic winery retains its dairy farm
roots (see photo below).
2012 Ruby Single Clone Wädenswil Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $125. 40-yearold
Wädenswil clone vines planted in Laurelwood soil. Indigenous yeast fermentation.
Moderately light garnet
color in the glass. Seductive perfume of cherry, spice and sandalwood. Lighter weighted flavors of red cherry,
cranberry and oak-driven notes of smoke and tobacco. More elegant and engaging than many Willamette
Valley Pinot Noirs from the 2012 vintage, with silky tannins and easy drink ability. The oak overlay is a bit
2015 Ruby Flora’s Reserve Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 50 cases, $N/A.
Composed of Wädenswil 1A clone planted in 1973.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Exotic aromas of
red cherry, rose petal and spice. Seamless in character, with mid weight flavors of cherry, raspberry and spice
lifted with a bright acid spine. Mildly perceptible silky tannins and an engaging and juicy finish.
Big Table Farm, Gaston
Brian Marcy and Clare Carver moved to Oregon from Napa, California in 2006 and bought a 70-acre property
that became both a winery and working farm. The Oregon adventure was inspired by their desire to grow
grapes, make wine, and to have the space for all of Clare’s animals. They named the farm and winery after the
goal to provide a gracious and welcoming table, with a cornucopia of handcrafted food and wine. Now, after ten
years, Brian and Clare have developed the land into a working farm with cattle, horses, pigs, goats, chickens,
and bees, and have built a winery and barn.
I first met Brian and Clare at Pinot Days in Santa Monica, California in 2010 (see photo below) and have been
a fan of their wines ever since. Brian’s winemaking experience at Turley Wine Cellars, Neyers Vineyards,
Blankiet Estate and Marcassin shows in the stellar wines.
In the Big Table Farm fall release newsletter, Brian summarizes his winemaking goal. “My overreaching
winemaking goal is and has always been to make delicious wine. Complexity, age-worthiness and interest are
also important for wine, but if the delicious is not there, then all else is unimportant. I mostly use my own
palate....taste and try and taste again a multitude of times.” He goes on to say, “Small wineries like ours where
the owner is the winemaker are in a unique position artistically. We have no outside investors, owners or
partners looking over our shoulders and the wines can truly reflect a singular focus. I certainly check in with
Claire to make sure I am not crazy, but she likes my wine too.”
Brian couldn’t afford a de-stemmer when the winery started in 2006 and liked the results so much with whole
cluster fermentation for Pinot Noir, he has continued with whole bunch vinification exclusively. He bought a de-stemmer
in 2014 but is looking to sell it. All wines are vinified with native fermentations, never acidified, and
aged in a low percentage of new French oak barrels.
The winery offers a Pinot Noir Rosé, Pinot Gris, an Edelzwicker, two Chardonnays, a Willamette Valley and
Yamhill-Carlton appellation Pinot Noir, and vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs. The wines are sold through a
mailing list and the tasting room. Tasting is available by appointment in Brian and Clare’s over 100-year-old
farmhouse, a truly personal experience. Demand for appointments is high, and tasters must commit to
purchasing a case of wine to attend a tasting. The unique labels on the bottles are designed and crafted using
a letterpress by Clare. Visit the beautifully designed website at www.bigtablefarm.com.
Big Table Farm was a featured winery at the 2017 International Pinot Noir Festival where they were pouring
their featured wine, the 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. This wine and the other 2015 spring release wines
were previously reviewed in the PinotFile: www.princeofpinot.com/winery/964/. When I visited Big Table Farm,
I tasted through the fall release (available now) Pinot Noirs including the 2015 Cattrall Vineyard (Wädenswil
clone, excellent acidity), the 2015 Yamhill-Carlton (showy, forward and fruity), the 2015 Sunnyside Vineyard
(Wädenswil clone, lighter weighted, very pretty fruit, elegant), and the 2015 Wirtz Vineyard (Coury clone,
earthy, bold, noticeable tannins). I also sampled many barrels of 2016 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with Brian
and the wines were “spot on.”
I barrel-sampled 2016 wines at several other wineries as well when I visited on my July 2017 trip, and can say
that this will be another superb vintage for the Willamette Valley. 2016 was a warm vintage with high yields.
Lenné Estate, Yamhill
Lenné Estate vineyard sits on a steep, south-facing slope near the town of Yamhill, Oregon. Nearby are
Willakenzie Estate and Saffron Fields Winery. The property was once part of a large dairy farm and sits on a
sedimentary soil type known as “peavine.” The resulting wines have considerable character because of the
small cluster and berry size.
The name, Lenné, was born from a chicken farm west of London, England, in the small village of Wolkingham.
It was there that winery founder Stephen Lutz’s spouse, Karen Lutz, was raised on a chicken farm and Karen’s
father was known as “Len the hen.” The chicken farm is long gone and Len died in 1999. With his passing, Len
helped put a down payment on Lenné Estate, so the winery was named in his honor.
I tasted through three of Lenné Estate’s 2014 vintage Pinot Noirs that have been released and previously
tasted by me at home. Stephen said that 2014 was a warmer vintage that produced wines that initially were
simple and fruit forward, but have acquired more complexity over time. Because of high yields, less new oak
cooperage was used in this vintage. Stephen predicts that these wines will be long-lived. The other wines
tasted were from the 2015 vintage, another warm one for Oregon. The grapes were harvested riper, the
alcohols are somewhat higher (14.5%-ish) and have slightly lower acidity. Some of these wines will be released
in the fall and the rest in 2018. The Pinot Noirs are typically aged 11 months in French oak barrels.
Including a Chardonnay, new for the 2016 vintage, Lenné Estate offers nine wines. All eight Pinot Noirs are
estate grown. The “Le Nez” entry Pinot Noir bottling has been phased out. The wines are sold primarily to an
enthusiastic wine club with a membership that is nearly filled. Tasting is available Wednesday-Sunday
afternoon. Stephen anticipates that he will discontinue tasting appointments in the near future and distribute his
wines to wine club supporters only. He plans to build a small winery on the property as well. Lenné Estate was
one of the chosen participating wineries at this year’s International Pinot Noir Celebration. Visit
www.lenneestate.com for information or to purchase wines.
I have been following Lenné Estate since the 2006 vintage and have visited Stephen to taste multiple times.
2014 Lenné Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 800 cases, $38. A new
bottling combining the Le Nez and Estate bottlings. About 50% Pommard. Featured wine at 2017
International Pinot Noir Celebration. (score when tasted 11/19/16 was 89-91).
Moderately light garnet color in the class. Aromas of cherry and
cranberry lead to a lighter weighted and red fruited wine that is lacy and juicy. Easy to cozy up to,
with fine-grain tannins and a good cut of acidity on the satisfying finish. The wine’s appealing texture
is its best feature.
2014 Lenné Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 100 cases, $55. (score when tasted 11/19/16 was 88-90).
light garnet color in the glass. Highly aromatic with scents of black fruits and mocha. Envious attack and length
of the dark fruit essence with persistence through the finish. Matched silky tannins offer support. Has the
balance to age nicely.
2014 Lenné cinq élus Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $80. A blend of the
best barrel from each of the five different estate vineyard blocks. Only produced in great vintages. (score 11/19/16 was
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Engaging aromas of dark red cherry, spice and sandalwood.
A delicious core of dark cherry and raspberry fruits alerts the palate on entry, enveloping the taste buds,
and lasting through a very long finish. Beautifully balanced and truly age worthy.
2015 Lenné Eleanor’s 114 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $55.
color in the glass. Aromatically alive with scents of dark raspberry and black cherry. Inviting core of dark cherry
and raspberry fruits in a mid weight style with a deft touch of oak, and noticeable lift on the finish. There is the
slightest bit of alcoholic warmth.
2015 Lenné South Slope Select Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc.. Primarily clones
115 and Pommard with a little 777. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels.
Moderate garnet color in the glass.
The nose unfolds slowly in the glass but reaches a crescendo over time with soaring aromas of black cherry,
ripest strawberry, spice, and dark chocolate with subtle oak highlights. Juicy and luscious on the palate,
featuring flavors of dark red, blue and purple berries backed by fine-grain tannins that are nicely integrated.
Great potential here.
I had a few bottles of Lenné Estate Pinot Noir in my cellar from the 2010 vintage, so I thought I would pop the
corks and see how the wines have fared over the nearly seven years since that vintage harvest.
2010 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
color in the glass. More savory than fruity on the nose with aromas of underbrush, dried herbs, dark red fruits
and a touch of oak. Mid weight flavors of ripe strawberry and black cherry. Very fresh and wouldn’t know the
wine was seven years old if tasted blind. A little earthy with some oak underlay, displaying fine-grain tannins
and commendable intensity and length on the finish. Drink now to 2025.
2010 Lenné Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc.. Best barrels from the
20-acre estate vineyard. Clones 115, 11, 777, 667 and
Moderately dark garnet color in the
glass. Lovely perfume of black cherry, blackberry, baking spices and sandalwood. A burst of delicious
black cherry greets the palate with background accents of purple grape, black raspberry, spice and
earthy flora. The tannins have integrated and a hint of oak plies the background. Drinking at its peak
now but will easily last through 2025.
iOTA Pelos Sandberg Vineyard , Amity
iOTA is a small, family owned and operated vineyard and winery open to the public twice per year in May
and November and by appointment. Owners and winemakers, Johanna and Don Sandberg, relocated to
Portland from Minneapolis in 1999 to research the feasibility of growing grapes and making Pinot Noir in
Oregon’s Willamette Valley. By the end of 2000, they had moved to the future vineyard site to oversee land
development and learn the business of wine grape growing and making wine. Family partner, Lynne Pelos, has
lent financial support remotely as a partner.
iOTA wines are produced from 100% estate grown and sustainably farmed grapes for a total production just
under 2,000 cases annually. The first vineyard plantings were in 2002, the winery was established in 2006 and
the onsite winery opened in 2010. There are 15 acres pf Pinot Noir planted to 8 blocks (all Pinot Noir except
0.8 acres of Chardonnay) on a total parcel of 57 acres at 300 to 500 feet elevation east of the Van Duzer
corridor. The non-irrigated Pinot Noir clones planted include Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon 777 and 667,
along with a small amount of Chardonnay clones 95 and 69. The soils are both sedimentary and volcanic.
Three iOTA Pinot Noirs are consistently offered: Phillis Rosé of Pinot Noir, iOTA (flagship bottling that is a blend
of the best barrels, blocks and clones that represent Pelos Sandberg Vineyard as a whole) and Not One iOTA
(a fraction separated during barrel aging that stands on its own). A 100% whole cluster fermented Pinot Noir is
also produced in some vintages. Fermentations are primarily native yeast driven.
In addition to iOTA wines, grapes have been sold to prestigious wineries including Big Table Farm, Rex Hill,
EIEIO & Co., Bergström and Beaux Frères.
iOTA wines are sold to a mailing list and through the winery’s website at www.iotacellars.com. The following
wines were tasted at the winery including a mini-vertical of the flagship Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noirs from Pelos-
Sandberg (also found in the Big Table Farm Pelos Sandberg Pinot Noirs) have a unique smoky, barnyard
character that comes through in different degrees in all the wines tasted.
2015 iOTA Phyllis Eola-Amity Hills Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 71 cases, $22. Named in
honor of Lynne Pelos’ mother. Aged 6 months in neutral French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and
Moderately light pink color in the glass. A savory styled Rosé featuring aromas and flavors
of strawberry, citrus peel and herbs. Crisp, clean and refreshing.
2010 iOTA Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.9% alc. 100% de-stemmed.
Light ruby red color with a slight orange tinge in the glass. A second bottle tasted was darker garnet with no
bricking. Aromas of cherry, tobacco and cigar box. Light to mid weight in style with a core of cherry, raspberry
and cranberry fruits framed by bright acidity and gossamer tannins interacting in harmony. The signature
barnyard note is evident. The wine has a healthy finish, a satiny texture, and not much tertiary character so
should hold to 2022.
2011 iOTA Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., $38. 10% whole
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very attractive penetrating aromas of dark cherry, strawberry, spice
and pennyroyal. Impressive concentration and ripeness in this very cool vintage, featuring black cherry, dark
raspberry and plum fruit flavors with a subtle smoky note and a grand finish. The wine’s juicy acidity and
polished tannins make for perfect drinking perfectly now but will last to 2025.
2012 iOTA Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
4.2% alc., $42. 100% destemmed.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. A nice fusion of black cherry and dried herbs lifts the nose.
The sappiest wine in this vertical tasting, with a plethora of dark fruits, but lacking a bit of vibrancy. The finegrain
tannins lead to a dry finish that reveals a slight hint of alcoholic warmth. Drink now to 2022.
2013 iOTA Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., $40. 15% whole
Light ruby red color in the glass. Embracing aromas of red cherry, spice, sandalwood and smoke are
repeated in the charming flavors on the mid weight palate. Noticeable mouth presence, length and finishing
persistence with balanced acidity, a vivacious character and a deft touch of oak. The most balanced wine in
this vertical lineup. Drink now to 20/25.
2014 iOTA Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $40. 15% whole
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose will wow you with hi-tone aromas of black cherry,
spice and tobacco oak. Somewhat immature, with fresh black cherry fruit flavors underlain with notes of earth
and iron. A modest smoky barnyard thread plies the background. There is the slightest bit of alcoholic warmth
on the finish.
2015 iOTA Duke’s Family Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Chardonnay
12.5% alc., $35. Barrel
aged and fermented with limited lees stirring. (Note, the 2016
Chardonnay will be the first from Pelos Sandberg Vineyard).
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Bright
aromas and flavors of citrus, tropical fruits, straw and herbs in a food friendly style.
Lingua Franca, Salem
Refer to coverage of Grand Seminar at this year’s International Pinot Noir Celebration: www.princeofpinot.com/
The estate vineyard is south of Seven Springs Vineyard and consists of 66 acres of Pinot Noir clones 90, 943,
115, 777, 667 and Pommard on three different rootstocks.
Winery closed to public. Limited tasting by appointment. Visit www.linguafranca.com.
Walter Scott Wines, Salem
Walter Scott was started in 2008 by partners Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon after years of living, studying and
working within the Oregon wine industry. Ken spent 18 years working for some of Oregon’s top winemakers,
learning both production and marketing. Erica is both an Advanced Sommelier and wine educator, focusing
much of her passion on the Willamette Valley.
In 2012, Sue and Andy Steinman joined the winery, helping the business realize goals and grow production to
3,000 cases annually. Many readers know Sue and Andy, who have faithfully attended IPNC for many years
and eventually moved to Oregon from the East Coast.
Ken crafts exceptional vineyard designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay out of a very modest winery located
adjacent Justice Vineyard. Ken and Erica’s years in the Oregon wine industry have led to congenial contacts
and allow them to source most of their grapes from prestigious vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. I think
Ken and Erica ought to adopt the slogan, “We have the grapes!” Vineyards include for Pinot Noir: Sojourner,
Freedom Hill, Temperance Hill, Comb de Ovreux, and Seven Springs. For Chardonnay: X Novo, Freedom Hill,
and Bunker Hill. When I visited in late July before IPNC, I tasted through every 2016 vineyard-designated
barrel with Ken and I came away thinking these were some of the most exciting wines I tasted on this trip. The
wines have both elegance and purity as well as conveying the transparency of site and vintage.
My advice would be to join the mailing list soon at www.walterscottwine.com because I anticipate these wines
will be very hard to come by in the near future. Multiple 2015 wines are now sold out. Many of the wines are
priced in the $40 to $50 range and represent special value.
Tastings are available by appointment only (except Sundays) and are hosted by Ken or Erica.
Southern Willamette Valley
Amalie Robert Estate, Dallas
Ernie Pink and Dena Drews have converted a former 60-acre cherry orchard into a vineyard beginning in 1999.
The couple were Pacific Northwest computer industry workers with no background in the wine business, but
learned winemaking and viticulture through the local community college. The inauspicious property lies at the
end of an unpaved road with a single directive sign adjacent the famed Freedom Hill Vineyard and is worthy
the journey to visit.
Amalie Robert is a two-person operation that succeeds in an unadorned winery because of the commitment,
innovative ideals and guile of the owners. The name of the winery derives from a combination of Dena’s middle
name Amalie and Ernie’s middle name Robert.
Ernie gave me a tour of his 35-acre vineyard and plans to plant 5 more acres or so. Ernie is a tinkerer and you
never know what he might plant. He bottles one of the few examples of Pinot Meunier and Viognier grown in
the Willamette Valley, using his carefully tended estate grapes. The 2016 Viognier blew me away. The winery
also produces outstanding Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer. All wines at Amalie Robert are
estate grown, fermented, blended and bottled at the estate.
The estate vineyard is dry farmed with proper soil management to allow enough hang time to achieve full
ripeness in every vintage. The resulting wines appeal to me because they are crafted with whole clusters,
native yeasts and both barrel and bottle aged as necessary for complexity and drink ability upon release.
I spent most of my visit talking with Ernie and Dena while tasting a few bottles. It was fascinating to hear about
the challenges of viticulture from those who are on the front lines. For a wine writer as well as the consumer, it
is important to get to know the owners and winemakers, to understand their goals, experience their personality,
and put a face to the wines. It is the only way one can truly appreciate wine.
Amalie Robert Estate was a Wine & Spirits Winery of the Year in 2011.
Ernie’s blog, “The FLOG,” follows each vintage with insightful and humorous comments. I highly recommend it
for those interest in Oregon wine: www.amalierobert.blogspot.com.
Tours and tasting at the winery are available by appointment. Visit www.amalierobert.com. For reviews of
Amalie Robert Estate wines, visit www.princeofpinot.com/winery/955/.
Broadley Vineyards, Monroe
Broadley Vineyards was established by the Broadley family in 1982 in the hills west of the town of Monroe. The
estate vineyard is 33 acres planted in deep, well-drained, rocky clay Hazelair and volcanic Jory soils. The
original plantings in 1982 were Pommard and Wädenswil, but as Dijon clones became available to Oregon,
these where planted as well.
Founders Craig and Claudia Broadley lived in Berkeley and they developed a taste for wine in the 1970s. Like
many Californians who became pioneers in the Oregon wine industry, they left for Oregon in search of a site in
the Willamette Valley, and ended up in the southern part of the AVA just outside the town of Monroe, over a
hours drive south of McMinnville. The Broadleys focused on rain patterns in the Willamette Valley and found
that Monroe had a rain shadow from nearby Green and Mary’s peak that are the tallest peaks on the coastal
range in Oregon. This makes Monroe the warmest and driest area in the Willamette Valley (known as the
“banana belt”), and the advantage shows up in wet growing seasons such as 1997, 2007 and even 2013. In
warmer vintages, Morgan carries a heavier crop load to slow down ripening.
The success of Broadley Vineyards has come through their unique, solitary, yet strategic location and resultant
wines that are truly individualistic for Oregon.
Winemaking is now under the direction of the second generation, Morgan Broadley (pictured below). Because
of the vineyard’s southern Willamette Valley location, vines do not struggle for ripeness and stem lignification is
more commonplace. As a result, Broadley Vineyard’s signature style is its use of a high percentage of whole
cluster in wooden fermenter of various sizes. Aging is typically carried out in 20%-30% new Tarasund French
oak barrels (beginning in 2007, the percentage of new oak has been lessened from 50%-60% used in prior
The winery also sources fruit from notable vineyards elsewhere in the Willamette Valley such as Shea, Zenith,
Saffron Fields, Maverick, Open Claim and Rocky Hill vineyards. Total production is about 5,000 cases including
a Chardonnay sourced from the Eola-Amity Hills.
I tasted bottled wines with Morgan at the Broadley winery in downtown Monroe. Other 2015 vintage releases
were previously reviewed in the PinotFile: www.princeofpinot.com/winery/139/. The winery’s tasting room is
open by appointment. Visit www.broadleyvineyards.com.
2015 Broadley Vineyards Marcile Lorraine Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 150 cases, $50.
Named for founder Craig Broadley’s mother. Produced each year from the same block of old vine Pinot Noir. A
blend of Pommard and clone 115. 50% whole cluster. Wild yeast, cooler fermentation in 1.5-ton open-top oak
fermenter for 14 to 21 days. Starting with pump overs and then two punch downs per day. Aged 14-18 months
in tighter-grained, low toast French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Alluring
aromas of darker fruits, particular black cherry, along with scents of spice and underbrush. Luscious and giving
and rather precocious with a mid weight core of juicy purple and black fruits backed by energetic acidity and
well proportioned tannins. Drink this one while you wait on Jessica.
2015 Broadley Vineyards Claudia’s Choice Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 350 cases,
$50. Wine named for Broadley Vineyards co-founder Claudia Broadley. Pommard and Wädenswil
clones. 70% whole cluster. Wild yeast fermentation in two 3-ton open-top oak fermenters for 14 to 21
days. Starting with pump overs and then two punch downs per day. Aged 14-18 months in French oak
barrels, 40% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh dark fruits and
spice although a bit tight. Delicious essence of blue and black fruit mix with a hint of dark chocolate.
Firm but mature tannins conceal the fruit at this early stage. The velveteen texture and grand finish leave a
memorable impression. Great potential.
2015 Broadley Vineyards Jessica Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 250 cases, $50. Wine is
named for Morgan Broadley’s wife and partner in Broadley Vineyards. This wine is produced each year
from the same Dijon clone 667 and 115 section on the estate vineyard surrounding the Broadley’s
home. 80% whole cluster. Wild yeast fermentation in a 5-ton Seguin Moreau open-top wood fermenter
for 14 to 21 days. Starting with pump overs and then two punch downs a day. Aged 14-18 months in
French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy but pleasant aromas of
black cherry, black raspberry and walnut. Silky in the mouth with a vivacious core of dark fruits that really grab
your attention and hold on. The wine is boldly structured with tannins and finishes with intensity and purpose.
A marvelous wine than will benefit from a few years in the cellar.
2016 Broadley Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $20.
Moderately light garnet
color in the glass. Giving aromas of dark cherry and rose petal. Light to mid weight cherry and red
berry fruit core with seamless oak backup, easy going tannins, and a juicy finish. Lively, fresh,
friendly and open. Ideal for summer drinking and a great value.