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Meeting with winemakers, I learn something new every single time. But when I sat down with Scott Flora of Native Flora in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, some of the things he spoke about seemed to contradict what I had generally heard from others or studied in books. I was fascinated by his contrarian approach. But Scott is not a contrarian just for the sake of it. Through logic and empirical research he has drawn conclusions for the practices he has chosen and the resulting wines speak for themselves. I wrote about Scott Flora's approach in the Napa Valley Register, which you can read here. Every winemaker has their own way of doing things. Most winemakers when asked where a vineyard should be planted will tell you south-facing. But not Scott Flora. Ask a winemaker if a warm-climate grape such as Malbec can be planted in a region known for Pinot Noir, and they will likely say no. But not Scott Flora. In fact, if you tell Scott Flora that it cannot be done, or should not be done, he will likely try it and prove you wrong. And despite being contrary, he seems to be doing everything right.
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.