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Styring Vineyards: Texas Transplants Escape Corporate World

The story is not an unusual one among Oregon vintners. Steve and Kelley Styring had all the trappings of success in Dallas, Texas, but they had tired of the corporate world. In the summer of 2002, they visited Oregon and fell in love with the wines and the rural countryside. The next year they bought 40 acres of land in the Ribbon Ridge area, quit their jobs, packed up their two children, ages 3 and 7, and headed to Oregon. As fate would have it, they ended up 2.5 miles from Avalon B&B, where they had stayed on their trip in 2002.

The Styrings initially planted 5 acres of vines, adding 5.5 acres later creating a vineyard consisting of Pinot Noir (primarily clones 115 and Pommard), Pinot Gris and Riesling. For a few years, they apprenticed as volunteers at Willamette Valley wineries to learn the business. They launched their commercial venture with the 2004 vintage and became the first winery on Ribbon Ridge Road ( now joined by Trisaetum, Redman and Utopia). Their disdain for the corporate mill has led them to continue slowly and concentrate on small lots of handcrafted quality wine. Production in 2008 was 36 barrels.

Their winery is not fancy and very small, but this is precisely the type of facility that lends itself to artisan production. Styring Pinot Noir spends 16 to 18 months in barrel and 1 year in bottle so the current releases are from the 2006 vintage.

The name Styring is Viking in origin with the Styring history in England linked with farming as far back as 1100 A.D.. Steve’s parents emigrated from England in 1956, following a sister who had married an American G.I.. Steve is a first-generation American.

When I visited the Styrings in July, we tasted a vertical of Styring Wit Reserve Pinot Noir, 2004-2006, and the 2006 Styring Premier Estate Pinot Noirs and 2006 Styring Signature Pinot Noir. The 2006 Styring Wit Reserve was awarded the prestigious David Lett Award at the 2009 Northwest Wine Summit, designating it as the best Oregon Pinot Noir in the competition. The wine also won a Gold Medal at The Summit, as did the 2006 Styring Premier Estate Pinot Noir.

Styring wines are sold on the website at Tours of the property and tasting are welcome by appointment (503-866-6741). The address is 19960 NE Ribbon Ridge Road. Check out the adventures of Molly the wine dog on Twitter@mollythewinedog and at, and watch the video, “Passion for Pinot,” at

2006 Styring Vineyards Signature Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 120 cases, $30. · Very intense and enticing scents of cherries, berries, roasted hazelnuts, summer herbs and oak toast. A charming wine replete with cherries and berries, notes of vanillin and warm nuts, with a very smooth and sensual texture. Evolves nicely over time in the glass making it a wine to spend the night with.

2006 Styring Vineyards Premier Estate Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 75 cases, $45. The inaugural Estate Pinot Noir is sourced from the first 5 acres planted on the Styring Ribbon Ridge estate in 2003. · The nose is shy and brooding, reluctantly offering ripe dark fruits, forest floor and smoky aromas. Very tasty core of blackberries and black raspberries with an appealing nuttiness. Smooth and seamless with plenty of richness to satisfy. The tannins are barely perceptible and the finish has admirable persistence. Still drank beautifully two and three days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating this wine will improve over time and age extremely well.

2006 Styring Vineyards Wit Reserve Pinot Noir

15.8% alc., 50 cases, $55, available Thanksgiving Weekend 2009. Sourced from the Ridgecrest Vineyard in Ribbon Ridge which had not sold grapes to other vintners in the eleven years prior. · Red and black fruits are front and center in this wine which has considerable charm. The flavor of plum reduction sauce saturates the mid-palate. The lasting finish, although leaving a bit of heat in its wake, is filled with spicy aromatics. This wine will definitely find fans of hedonistic Pinot Noir.

2005 Styring Vineyards Wit Reserve Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $38, available. Sourced from two Yamhill-Carlton vineyards planted in 1977 and 1998. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color. Given some air time in the glass, the wine blossoms revealing scents of wild berries, cardamon and Asian five-spice. On the palate, there are bright blue and black berry fruits, a hint of oak and grilled meat and some savory herbs in the background. Flavorful and smoothly textured with supple tannins and brisk acidity on the finish.

2004 Styring Vineyards Wit Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

$38, available. Sourced from a vineyard in Forest Grove planted in 1971 and heavily cropped to restrict yields. · Secondary characters of brown spice, root beer, fig and leather highlight this darkly fruited wine with a stewed quality. The oak is evident but restrained and the tannins have melded nicely.

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