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Briefs —Newsletter 12.7

On the Lookout for Quality Modestly-Priced Pinot Noir The 2017 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a real charmer at a modest $45 price. Released a year ago, winemaker Brian Marcy blends fruit from all the Northern Willamette Valley vineyards that he works with. The wine is more affordable than other Big Table Farm Pinot Noirs because more of it is made (2,509 cases) while receiving the same care and handling as the rest of his wines. I rated the wine 91, saying “a complex nose reflecting whole cluster fermentation….a wine of character, sleek, with good energy….even age-worthy to allow the whole cluster tannins to ameliorate.” Wine Spectator 91, Wine Enthusiast 93, Wine & Spirits 94. Available at and ($39.95).

Ominous News for Wine Lovers The calamitous effects of the COVID-19 virus ensure that the domestic wine industry will suffer. Sonoma County alone contributes $57.6 billion to the California economy according to the Wine Institute. The U.S. has more than 10,000 wineries, 450 of them located in Sonoma County, producing $23.5 billion in total annual sales. Wine company executives and industry analysts say that not all the wineries will survive beyond COVID-19.

Two New AVAs in Oregon’s Willamette Valley The TTB has approved two new AVAs in the Willamette Valley: Tualatin Hills and Laurelwood District. The name of these AVAs will first appear on labels of wines produced in 2020. The two new AVAs lie within the existing Willamette Valley AVA, while the Laurelwood District is also located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, just to make things more complicated. The Willamette Valley AVA now has 9 smaller sub-AVAs within it. The Tualatin Hills AVA is characterized by Laurelwood soils with almost no volcanic or marine sedimentary soils, as well as elevation and climate. The distinguishing feature of the Laurelwood District AVA is also Laurelwood soils but the Laurelwood District’s soils are loess combined with basalt that is older than that found in the Tualatin Hills soil. Confused yet? For most consumers, these AVA distinctions remain mysterious. I believe the “Willamette Valley AVA” is the most powerful marketing tool for Oregon vintners.

Recommended Reading An article titled “Wine & Medicine: An Enduring Historical Association appeared recently at This is a 15-minute read that presents a thorough summary of the history that links wine and medicine.

British Columbia Assuming Pinot Noir as its Signature Grape Although more than 80 grape varieties are planted in British Columbia, Pinot Noir is becoming the signature grape among the region’s red wine varieties. Pinot Noir is widely planted in the Okanagan with the majority of vineyards less than 20 years of age. More attention to British Columbia has come via the annual B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration that was launched in 2013. Read more at pinot-noir-as-its-signature-grape/.

Knudsen Vineyards Opens The Outlook in the Dundee Hills Knudsen Vineyards opened its doors for the first time to the public on June 8 with a new tasting room on Worden Hill Road. The Outlook at Knudsen Vineyards is housed in the former Knudsen Erath Winery, offering tasting flights, a picnic package and an immersive hiking experience. The tasting room is open daily by appointment only with reservations available online at All Knudsen Vineyards Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are estate grown from the LIVE certified and Salmon Safe site and are made by winemaker Nate Klostermann. I highly recommend the wines.

Wine Girl is a Book About Equality At the Right Time Victoria James became America’s youngest sommelier at age 21 and writes about the challenges she faced in the memoir, Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier. She fought her way through discrimination, sexual harassment and even sexual assault and maintained her passion for restaurant hospitality. The book exposes the fact that the #MeToo movement has not gone far enough to break up the old boys of the restaurant wine world. Hardcover, 256 pages, $27.

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