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Daedalus Cellars

Daedalus Wines

Daedalus Cellars was Pam Walden and the late Aron Hess with assistance from their sons 8 year old Samson and 5 year old Cato. Daedalus (DAY-duh-lus) was a small family winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Aron and Pam sourced fruit from some of Oregon's best vineyards and used artisan methods to handcraft their wines. The wines showed an elegant, ageable structure and complexity, refined and sophisticated, natural partners for a wide range of foods.

From Pam Walden concerning the 2010 harvest:

I'm pretty much in love with the estate vineyard. It's been way more time-consuming than I thought it would be but I'm really enjoying being out there. As I write (September 11th), we have about 50% veraison - about half of the grapes are purple. That's probably a little later than usual in our area, but also a little ahead of where many vineyards locally are. It's also pretty common activity for young vines that are excitedly putting forth their first crop. The unusually hot weather at the beginning of this month has been a huge help of course.

We'll be turning these delicious little Pinot clusters into wine at Laurel Ridge Winey this year. They're very kind enough to share some of their space with us, plus they're really lovely people, and they play good music (a pretty essential part of harvest!).

The 2008 Vintage

The 2008 wines show their newly re-designed label (above) with an embossed wing along the right side of it. The wing is from the story of Daedalus and Icarus. In Greek mythology Daedalus was imprisoned with his son Icarus for helping _ to escape from the Labyrinth that Daedalus had created. Daedalus created wings from feathers and wax so that the two of them could escape their prison. Unfortunately, Icarus got a little too carried away with flying and flew too near the sun. The wax of course melted and he plunged to his death in the depths of the ocean.

If you peer closely, you'll find a quote in the lower half of the label. It reads "This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am." (Stephen Daedalus in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce)

We chose the quote to refer both to Pinot Noir as a grape since it is particularly expressive of its terroir, and to our approach to winemaking. We make wine because we are passionate about it. Aron makes it in the style that he likes without compromising quality or his vision for what he thinks the grapes can offer.

How it Happened

In 1996, Aron followed his nose to Europe to tour the wine regions. One Sunday when the wineries were closed, he followed a tip from a guide book and found himself in a tiny ferme auberge in the Dordorgne where he met his wife and business partner, Pam Walden. Several months later they arrived in Oregon with a dream to make the best Pinot Noir this side of the Atlantic.

>Aron worked first at Flynn Vineyards and occasionally at Evesham Wood Winery before joining Rex Hill Vineyards in 1998, first as the Enologist, later as the Assistant Winemaker working with Lynn Penner-Ash, and for three years as the Winemaker. Aron's tenure at Rex Hill included some of the most innovative and cutting-edge experiments in the region, while focusing on very traditional methods of vinification.

The Beginning

In 1999 Aron and Pam purchased 17+ acres on a south-southeast slope of the Dundee Hills, the future site of their estate vineyard. Daedalus Cellars began a year later with the production of just four barrels of Phelps Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir. The winery now produces around 700 cases annually of small-lot, hand-crafted Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Syrah.

We've followed Aron's Pinots with interest since the first vintage, 2000. Since inception, the winemaker has aimed high for quality and complexity. The Daedalus Pinot noirs are sophisticated, ageable, and world class. Silky texture and delicately layered fruit and spice flavors are classically true to the nature of Pinot noir.

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