Winner: Rex Hill Reserve Pinot Noir
A landmark winery in the northern Willamette Valley, Rex Hill passed in 2007 from its founders to A to Z Wineworks, which now makes all its wines—sourced from vineyards throughout Oregon—at the Rex Hill facility. With Rex Hill labeled-wines, the new owners slashed case production, introduced sustainable farming and winemaking practices, and brought a renewed commitment to strengthening the brand. Despite difficult weather patterns during the 2010 growing season and bird damage, the Reserve Pinot noir, a blend of five vineyards, sold out quickly at the winery; some bottles may still be available in wine shops. The winery (rexhill.com) welcomes visitors in its historic tasting room in Newberg; tastings are $10 and refundable with a $40 purchase.
Runner-Up: Arborbrook 2010 Vintner’s Select Pinot Noir
If you want a bottle of ArborBrook’s 2010 Vintner’s Select Pinot noir, you’ll have to hurry. Since 2005, the Newberg winery has been using French winemaker Dominique Laurent’s technique called “200 percent aging,” which involves transferring eleven-month oak-aged wine into a second oak barrel for another seven months. The result is a wine with long cellar potential and highly prized by collectors. ArborBrook owner Dave Hansen says the 2010 vintner’s select sold out quickly, but the winery has a few bottles left for anyone who joins the Club Vins Limites. (arborbrookwines.com)