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 Shirley Baldwin, the matriarch of the Baldwin family whose father, Manuel de Ponte, grew grapes and made his own wine in California's San Joaquin Valley.

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 Dutartre studied at the University of Dijon in Burgundy 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, the Baldwins bought 80 acres with an existing 6-acre Pinot Noir vineyard 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 on the property. 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

2012 De Ponte Cellars D.F.B. Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Melon de Bourgogne

13.0% alc., $25. Old vines planted almost 40 years ago. D.F.B. = D. Fred Baldwin. · Very light pale yellow and clear. The nose is pleasing with aromas of citrus including pineapple, and hints of marzipan and banana cream. Crisp, bright and juicy, with flavors of citrus, apple and peach backed by lively acidity, carrying over to the tight finish. Score: 88. Reviewed June 18, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 De Ponte Cellars Lonesome Rock Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., $44. “Proud to be Lonesome” is a tagline on the label. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Still a little shy at this stage, but that is my only nit. Soaring scents of dark raspberry, blackberry, plum, cardamom spice and oak. Very intriguing. Delicious array of darker, spiced berry and stone fruits with an earthy undertone. The tannins are evident but supple, and the finish invites another sip. Can be enjoyed now, but there is no hurry. Score: 93. Reviewed June 18, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 De Ponte Cellars Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $55. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with bright aromas of strawberry, cherry and raspberry coulis. Lighter in color than the 2010 vintage Estate bottling, but brighter and more tantalizing with a crisp expression of red fruit. The tannins are nicely integrated, the oak is complimentary, and the finish is refreshingly crisp. A wine of great finesse, charm and harmony. Score: 94. Reviewed June 18, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 De Ponte Cellars Baldwin Family Reserve Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., $70. A winemaker selection of full-bodied and complex barrels in the cellar. Limited production. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose envelopes your senses with aromas of red cherry, raspberry and exotic spices that reveal themselves gradually in the glass over time. Superlatives can hardly due justice to this wine which is extraordinary in every way. It is polished, balanced, elegant and hi-collared, with a delicious core of vivid cherry, raspberry and spice flavors, a caressing texture, and remarkable persistence on the finish. This wine seduces with charm, not power. A connoisseur's wine that will age beautifully. Score: 96. Reviewed June 18, 2014 ARTICLE »

2010 De Ponte Cellars Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $55. Sourced from the best blocks in the vineyard. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. An elegant wine with soft tannins, offering aromas and flavors of red cherry, cranberry, baking spice, sarsasparilla and oak. There is a generous oak sheen expressed as notes of toast and espresso. Juicy with a good grip of backing acidity. Score: 90. Reviewed June 18, 2014 ARTICLE »

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 »