The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 127 of 134

july 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  1 17 In 1998, Scott Neal, who with wife Lisa founded Coeur de Terre vineyards in the McMinnville AVA, strongly endorsed the community sentiment, "People in the Willamette Valley are serious about growing grapes and making wine as a community. We are not competitive. We share resources, information and equipment. We believe that we are all better together." Winderlea Vineyards is located at the mouth of the Dundee Hills AVA where husband and wife owners Bill Sweat and Donna Morris are ardent supporters of the Willamette Valley movement. Donna believes that collaboration in the community is key if you want to be as good as possible. "Even more remarkable," she says, "is that the first genera- tion of wine pioneers is still in Willamette Valley. And they are not just a valuable resource; they are doing an amazing job turn- ing over the reins to the second generation, who continue to grow and push boundaries." "Momentum builds on itself," proclaimed Sweat. "A lot can be said for standing on the shoulders of the people that started this adventure. As the momentum continues to build, we continue to make better wines." Second-generation winemaker Adam Campbell of Elk Cove Vineyards, located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, asserts that being a relatively young, closely knit wine com- munity has other advantages as well. He says, "The people who communicate the message about the high quality of Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley and who we are as a com- munity is controlled by many small independent producers, not one or two large corporations." Ryan Harris, President of Domaine Serene, shared that he thinks it's the people as well as the place that makes Willamette Valley so special. Harris says, "There's a depth of character, in the nature of the people here, both the veterans and the newcomers. Both are committed to making wines that come through the land. It is genuine. It is honest. And it comes through both the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay, and it is meaningful." Neal continues, "In the beginning, we were imitating Burgundy, but we have come to realize that we are our own place. Willamette Valley is unique." Bergstrom concurs. "Turning into a region comes with time, and you evolve along with the region. We are all trying to make the best Willamette Valley wines we can. At first, there was pressure to please the critics, but I think we're past that. Now we're simply making the best Oregon wines—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris—that we can." "And the quality is uniformly higher and better," adds Dick Shea, the grapes from whose eponymous vineyard are used by over 20 wineries to produce Shea Vineyard–designated Pinot Noirs. "People with more capital are coming into the Valley. Equipment is getting better, techniques are getting better, the science is getting better. We have made huge strides in the learning curve and it all leads to improved wines." Campbell summed up the evening perfectly. "The best vineyard site in Willamette Valley hasn't been discovered yet. We have planted some awesome vineyards, but we're still looking because I think the best is yet to come." Scott Neal of Coeur de Terre Vineyards insists that the community in Willamette is not competitive. (above) Ryan Harris of Domaine Serene believes that there is an honesty that comes through the wines from Willamette Valley. (left) Bill Sweat and Donna Morris of Winderlea Vineyards believe community is key to Willamette Valley's success.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - July 2014