Oregon Wine Archives - Page 2 of 5 - Please The Palate
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Traveling to wine country is a fun getaway. There are many regions to visit along the west coast, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon is one of them. We fly into Portland and drive to the charming town of McMinnville, only one hour away. It seems that McMinnville is a central spot to explore the Willamette Valley. But, the Willamette Valley is much larger than you would think. It is more than Portland to Salem. It actually extends to Eugene. Heading to the South Willamette Valley is a quieter, more rural experience which I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and am sharing here. In the last few years, the Willamette Valley has been receiving extraordinary press, ratings and awards for its wines. It makes up only one percent of the wine made in the United States but is ranked fifth in production and third in number of wineries. More and more people are traveling to the Willamette Valley to explore the wonderful Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Pinot Gris and more.
Ribbon Ridge is the smallest AVA in Oregon. It is entirely contained within the Chehalem Mountains AVA in the Willamette Valley. The AVA includes 3,350 acres of land and approximately 500 acres are currently planted. There are approximately 34 vineyards and 11 wineries in the Ribbon Ridge AVA and one of them is Utopia Vineyard, a small, family owned winery producing only a few hundred cases of each wine each year and the Utopia Estate Pinot Noir is the Please The Palate wine of the week. Daniel Warnshuis began in the Bay Area. After college, he got a job with a company who's headquarters were in Oregon, and his boss, an amateur chef and wine collector, introduced him to wine. At 23 years of age, and based in Napa, he converted his laundry room into a wine cellar. He began importing wine in 1989 and then started an online retail cellar. While he was importing French wines, Daniel was also an early proponent of Oregon Pinot Noir before anyone else knew about it. He was known as the "pied piper of Oregon wine" in Napa.
Sitting down with Tom Mortimer of Le Cadeau Winery in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, I was regaled with Tom's passionate description of his vineyard located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. He spoke about the various soils, the microclimates and the clones that he has in his vineyard. Then I tasted his Pinot Noirs and it all came together. And that is why the three Pinot Noirs - Rocheux, Diversité and Côte Est are the Please The Palate wine(s) of the week. Originally from the Midwest, Tom and Deb Mortimer purchased an uncultivated piece of land located on the south slope of Parrett Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains AVA in 1997. Sitting at a high elevation between 610 feet and 725 feet, they cleared the land and planted six acres of Pinot Noir in 1999. Tom selected a mix of Pinot Noir clones and planted Pommard, Dijon clones 667, 777, 113, and 115, as well as Mariafeld (a Swiss Pinot noir clone) and assorted heritage clones from California. Today there is a total of sixteen acres planted.