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De Ponte Cellars

Owner(s) Rae Baldwin, Scott Baldwin
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De Ponte Cellars

Scott and Rae Baldwin started this small family winery in 2001 at 17545 Archery Summit Road in Dayton, Oregon. 20 acres of estate Pinot Noir (Dijon clones) and 2 acres of Melon de Bourgogne). The winery was named after Baldwin's grandfather, Manuel de Ponte, who liked wine.

The Baldwins came to Oregon from California where they owned a walnut orchard in the Central Valley and lived in Carmel Valley. Initially, they bought a hazelnut orchard near Forest Grove where they planted a vineyard. When they acquired the future de Ponte site, they sold the Forest Grove property to Appoloni Vineyards

Parisian-born Isabelle Dutarte studied at the University of Bourgogne and has been making wine professionally for over 30 years. Her impressive career includes stints at wineries like Maison Joseph Drouhin before she moved to Oregon in 1993 to assist the Drouhin family with Domaine Drouhin Oregon. Her mentor was Laurence Jobard, the head winemaker at Maison Joseph Drouhin with whom she worked for ten years. She became the head winemaker for De Ponte (duh pawnt) in 2001, moved permanently to the Yamhill Valley five years later, and shortly after founded her own label, 1789 wines.

In 2007, Baldwin bought 80 acres with an existing 6-acre Pinot Noir vineyrd on Meadow Lake Road located just over the western edge of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Named Lonesome Rock Ranch, a herd of steers roam free-range. The bovines are fed pomace left from De Ponte's winemaking process. Another 2 acres of Pinot Noir were planted in 2010.

Production is 2,000 cases annually of Pinot Noir. A second value-priced label is Clay Hill. A tasting room is open Thurs-Sat at the winery on NE Archery Summit Road in Dayton. I have been quite impressed by the Pinot Noirs and this is a producer to seek out. The wines can be obtained by calling 503-864-3698. Interestingly, the winery also crafts a small amount of Melon (Muscadet).

In the summer of 2013, a second tasting room opened in Carlton inside the historic fire station building which dates to 1943. The facility has an outdoor patio and seating. The tasting room will focus on special events for De Ponte and other small wineries that do not have access to an event space. The tasting room will also sell the Baldwin's grass-fed beef sourced from the couple's free-range cattle ranch known as Lonesome Rock Cattle Company (wine club members only).

Reviewed Wines

2009 De Ponte Cellars Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 1,881 cases, $38. From the De Ponte estate vineyard. French oak aged for 12 months in 20% new and 80% 2 to 5 year-old barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Full-on perfume of fresh boysenberries, potpourri, incense, and Moroccan spices. Lip smacking black cherry and boysenberry essence with subtle oak, musk and spice undertones. Everything you want in a Pinot Noir: mouthwatering attack, bright acidity, ripe tannins, a lingering finish and impeccable balance. A stylish and sensual pleasure. Reviewed November 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2005 De Ponte Cellars Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $38. · The aromatics blossom with coaxing to reveal deep cherries, violets and vanillin oak. Very elegant in style with charming spiced red fruits, soft texture and diaphanous finish. I like this a lot for its Vosne-Romanee character. Reviewed January 30, 2008 ARTICLE »