There are those of us who have indulged in the fantasy of having a personal wine cellar. One that’s full to the rafters of dusty old wine bottles. Next comes the anxiety of how long we would age each one until it’s coaxed into perfection, and the fantasy becomes overwhelming and drifts away. While not all wines are made for aging, the ones that are made to age likely don’t need the years of storage or the precise conditions we fret over to reach their full and delicious potential.
The post-Prohibition pioneers of Oregon’s now burgeoning wine industry were armed with one audacious idea—wine grapes could grow in Oregon. It was the 1960s, and California was the dominant American winemaking region. Oregon’s soil was considered too wet, the climate too cold. Beginning in 1961, a small group of entrepreneurs started trekking north across the border with vine clippings in hand. They came from various backgrounds but had one shared passion. They were unwittingly at the forefront of the New World of wine.
There’s no doubt about it, Oregon takes its winemaking seriously. The state is recognized nationally as a leading pinot noir producer, and is becoming known for putting its own stamp on pinot gris and chardonnay as well. But with all these great single varietal wines on the shelves, the stunning red blends crafted in every Oregon wine region might just be the industry’s best kept secret. Combining artistry and chemistry with quality, value and complexity, Oregon’s red blends come together to produce a tapestry of flavors that will improve your dinner experience.
In Oregon’s pre-Prohibition days, getting a taste of the vino meant a quick nip on the farm. Later, in the ’60s and ’70s, tasting was still an informal affair, happening in the family homes, garages or barrel rooms of early pinot-growing operations. “Our original tasting room was really just our home,” recalled Maria Ponzi, whose parents established Ponzi Vineyards in 1970. Amid the rising number of visitors to the region, spurred by increasing national interest in the state’s burgeoning wine production, the Sokol Blosser family commissioned architect John Storrs in 1978 to design a separate building to sample their vintages.
You shop local, you eat local—you even vacation local. But are you choosing to drink local? We have a world-class wine region right at our fingertips, yet sometimes it’s easier and cheaper to order a wine from the menu that’s been imported from France, Italy, Australia or Argentina than it is to order a wine produced less than thirty miles from the restaurant. Fortunately, restaurants are increasingly supporting the Oregon wine scene. Some menus have extensive bottle selections that include hard-to-find library wines. Others list a variety of wines by the glass or host special winemaker dinners. The newest trend—and most sustainable—is the selection of rotating wines on tap. Check out these local taps for a pour of Oregon’s finest wines. Photo by Jennifer Costello Restaurant highlights Walk up to the bar at Irving Street Kitchen and you’ll notice a row of gleaming brass taps. Irving Street Kitchen hosts a barrel-to-bar…
Kermit the Frog may have been onto something when he said it’s not easy being green. Committing to greener practices may mean additional costs when the business buys organic or recycled products. Extra effort is expended composting and recycling. Still, it’s an investment in a healthier future and many Oregon wineries are committed to the cause. THE EARLY ADOPTERS The Sokol Blosser family has always been conscientious of the impact that farming and wine production has on the environment. Before green practices were trendy, the winery gave back to the land. In 2002, Sokol Blosser became the first winery in the United States to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for their underground barrel cellar. The wines age at a constant 55 degrees without any heating or air conditioning. From USDA Organic Certification to bio-diesel tractors and trucks, Sokol Blosser maintains their commitment to using good-to-the-earth practices….
Personality can be defined as the evident traits in one’s character as it impresses
another. To say that every wine embodies its own personality would not be a bold
enough statement. How each winemaker influences their wine’s personality is
reminiscent of parent’s influence on some of the personality traits of their child.
Each wine may start from the same place, but both nature and nurture will predict
the qualities it expresses in the end.