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Van Duzer Vineyards

Van Duzer Vineyards is named after the Van Duzer Corridor, the only break in the north-south Oregon Coast Mountain Range that allows gentle west winds to enter the Willamette Valley. The official name is “Henry B. Van Duzer Forest State Scenic Corridor.” This geographic feature is responsible for the summer cooling that makes the Willamette Valley a perfect haven for Pinot Noir.

Cool Pacific Ocean air follows this route late each day and temperatures dependably drop late each afternoon. This air exchange brings a significant decrease in temperature as it moves over the Van Duzer Vineyards and then splits north towards Portland and south towards Eugene, cooling off the 60-mile wide and 100-mile long Willamette Valley for the night. The influence of the Van Duzer Corridor is most felt in the McMinnville and Eola- Amity Hills appellations as well as the vineyards in the Dallas area of the Willamette Valley where Van Duzer is located.

Van Duzer Vineyards is 60 miles south of Portland and west of the Eola Hills and Salem in the eastern mouth of the Van Duzer Corridor three miles off Highway 99W. Because of this location, summer temperatures in the vineyard drop sooner in the afternoon than in the vineyards to the north or south by 13 degrees, resulting in extended hang time. The winery appropriately chose Zephyra, the gentle west wind goddess of Greek mythology, to grace its label.

Carl Thoma and his wife Marilynn bought the run-down Van Duzer Vineyards property in 1998, and like so many Oregon wineries before, Van Duzer benefited from an enthusiastic outside investor. Vineyard plantings and management were upgraded and new plantings added. Today, the estate vineyards total 82 acres and include Pommard, Wädenswil, 113, 115, 667 and 777 Pinot Noir clones. Two clones of Pinot Gris are also planted. The estate vineyards are certified LIVE and Salmon Safe. Refer to the vineyard map below for a detailed layout.

Van Duzer produces an estate Pinot Noir and a number of limited production Clone and Block Designates as well as an outstanding Rosé of Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris. For years all Van Duzer wines were estate grown but recently grapes have been sourced from other appellations for singular bottlings.

The winemaker is Florent-Pierre “Flo” Merlier a native of Burgundy who obtained a degree in physics and chemistry, but was captivated by winemaking while assisting a good friend run a 40-acre family domaine in Burgundy. He decided to pursue winemaking and met his wife, Krista, an Oregonian, while interning at the same winery in Burgundy. Florent then obtained his Diploma of Viticulture from the University of Dijon before relocating to Oregon in 2009.

Winemaking can be complicated at Van Duzer because the fruit from each vineyard is handled separately and even grapes harvested within the same block are processed individually if picked on different days. Florent may have to deal with upwards of 50 lots of wine. Various yeast cultures are used to enhance aroma, flavor, texture, acid and tannin levels. A mix of barrels is used, typically tight-grained French oak barrels from the Allier and Vosges forests. Aging of Pinot Noir is carried out typically for 10 months in about 35% new barrels. The 2012 Pinot Noirs have not been released because Florent prefers to age them for a year in bottle before release.

A unique, insulated concrete tilt-up structured 20,000-case winery and hospitality center was completed in time for the 2006 harvest.

The Van Duzer Hospitality Center at 11975 Smithfield Rd in Dallas is open for wine tasting daily from 11:00 to 5:00. Visit the website at for the 20 mile drive south of McMinnville.

The 2013 Van Duzer Pinot Noir Rosé was one of the best Rosés I have tasted recently. Join Van Duzer Vineyards and 25 other Willamette Valley wineries for a festival in honor of Rosé at Patton Valley Vineyard in Gaston, Oregon. Food prepared by Portland’s Crown Paella and Scoop, music of two live bands, and a sampling of the finest pinks the Willamette Valley has to offer. Saturday, July 12, 12:00-4:00. For tickets, visit

2011 Van Duzer Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.58, 5,686 cases, $32. 22% Pommard, 20% 777, 19% Wädenswil, 12% 115, 9% 667, 8% 113, and 1% 114. Released January 2014. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, ripe strawberry, rose petal, spice and toasty oak. Light in weight and delicate on the palate, but with a pleasing core of red cherry, blueberry and raspberry fruits backed by complimentary oak notes. Not a blockbuster by any means, but demure and pleasing with juicy acidity, balanced tannins, and some finishing goodness. Admirable effort in this vintage. Score: 90

2011 Van Duzer Flagpole Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.60, 123 cases, $55. 100% own-rooted Wädenswil planted in the early 1980s. A Wine Club selection. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas of black cherry, strawberry, spice and cedary oak are fulfilling. Mid weight flavors of darker berries and sweet plum are underlain with a bright cut of acidity. Some grainy tannins show up on the dry, citrus-driven, sweet and sour finish. Score: 89

2011 Van Duzer Homestead Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.62, 120 cases, $55. 100% Pommard clone planted own-rooted in the early 1980s. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Invigorating aromas of black cherries, strawberries, spice, mocha and cedary oak lead to a satisfying mid palate attack of black cherry and black raspberry fruits complimented by spice and oak. The tannins are firm but integrated, and the juicy acidity brings the fruit to a vivid finish. Score: 91

2011 Van Duzer Dijon Blocks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.61, 145 cases, $55. 50% 777, 30% 115, 20% 113, and 10% 667. Released March 2014. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas of cherry, strawberry, underbrush and herbs hold up nicely over time in the glass. Deep flavors of ripest strawberry and black cherry with a touch of spice. Fruit-laden but lively and bright with a charming kiss of cherry on the generous finish. Score: 90

2011 Van Duzer Saffron Fields Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.78, TA 0.56, 123 cases, $60. 50% Wädenswil, 35% Pommard and 15% 115. 3rd leaf (68-acre vineyard planted in 2008). Aged in 50% new French oak barrels for 10 months. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very appealing, with bright aromas of cherry pie glaze, spice and sandalwood. Delicious array of darker berry and stone fruits, nicely spiced and caressed by slightly grippy tannins. The seductive fruit appears to have reached good phenolic maturity in the cool vintage. Luscious and charming. Score: 92

2011 Van Duzer Alchemy Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.60, 70 cases, $65. A barrel selection of wines with the most complex and intense fruit characteristics. 66% Van Duzer Vineyards (Flagpole and Homestead Blocks) and 33% Saffron Fields Vineyards. 50% Pommard, 30% 114, 20% 115. Aged in 33% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of Bing cherry, alpine strawberry, baking spice and sandalwood. Mid to full-bodied sweet and sappy core of black cherry, black raspberry and black plum fruits accented with the right touch of oak. An impressive offering with impeccable balance that will reward cellaring. Score: 94

2013 Van Duzer Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé

13.1% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.64, 1,960 cases, $18, screwcap. Released June 2014 (sold out except Wine Club members). 63% Wädenswil and 37% 115. 100% estate grown. A rigorous block selection was used to create this wine. Selected vines were encouraged to produced a higher yield to retain acidity. An early pick of clone 115 and a later pick of Wädenswil clone were blended. This Rosé, like few others, is intentionally created through directives in the vineyard and winery to produce a distinctive wine. After gentle pressing, the juice was inoculated with four yeasts to highlight the aromas and mouthfeel. After a slow and cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged on lees. · The color is an enticing modest orange coral in the glass. I loved the aromas of strawberry, blood orange and cut flower bouquet. This wine offers everything you could want in a Rosé with fresh flavors of strawberries, raspberries, orange zest, a hint of herbs in the background, a creamy mouthfeel and bright citrus-infused acidity. This dry wine is extremely agreeable to drink and unusually provocative for a Rosé. Score: 93

2013 Van Duzer Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

13.2% alc., pH 3.23, TA 0.74, 2,100 cases, $18, screwcap. Released April 2014. Clones 146 and 152. Whole cluster pressed, slow and cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks and aged on lees. · Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. The nose is really captivating with effusive aromas of peach, melon and mango. Crisp, light and refreshing, with a mix of tropical fruit, pear, and peach flavors that are vivid. Slightly creamy on the palate with a stony minerality in the background, and a thirst-quenching finish. A superb food wine. Score: 92

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