Richard Sommer Passes – Oregon Winemaker Since 1961

Richard Sommer, winemaker and founder of Hillcrest, one of Oregon’s first post-prohibition wineries, was one of, if not the first winemaker of the modern Oregon wine industry as we know it. His Hillcrest Vineyards continues today under new ownership, still displaying the sign saying “Bonded Winery #44″.  He died last Tuesday, age 79. Richard  planted his [...]

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Up and Down the Valley

Made my usual Friday drive up and down the Willamette Valley, picking up wine. Whoa are there a lot of new winery tasting rooms, wine bars, etc.  Neon open signs in all the windows at 11 AM. Asked Patty Green about the 107F heat we had, she saw brown leaves on young vines at the [...]

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Shea Vineyards – New Pinot noirs

Shea Wine Cellars released two new 2007 Pinot noirs to us this week – the 2007 East Hill and the Pommard.  Shea Wine Cellars is the Shea Vineyard owner’s winery. Our tasting notes: Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard East Hill Pinot noir $54.95/$49.45 Immediately enjoyable dark raspberry, blueberry and loganberry meld with exotic notes of incense [...]

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2007 WA State Mark Ryan Wild Eyed Syrah

Speaking of 2007 Washington reds, Mark Ryan released their Wild Eyed Syrah 07 and Crazy Mary Mourvedre 07 to us today. Mark Ryan’s early wines were burly and tannic – we loved them for their bold, gnarly appeal. With every successive vintage, winemaker Mark McNeely’s wines are a bit more polished while keeping their explosive edge. [...]

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Washington’s 2007 Vintage 95-100 pts – Wine Spectator

Washington State’s wine industry got a big boost with the addition of the 2007 vintage scores to Wine Spectator’s Vintage Chart Grid. Washington’s 2007 vintage  is rated at 95-100 points – their previous best score was 94 points for the 2006 vintage, with earlier scores hovering around 89-92 points. Most of the “serious” 2007 vintage [...]

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Hotter in Oregon than in Houston Today

We’re supposed to hit 101F today. Houston is only going to be 99F.  I asked Patty Green, Patricia Green Cellars, about it. (Patty manages not only her estate vineyard but has a permanent crew managing all the sites she buys from – she’s one of the most knowledgeable winemakers on vineyard care that I know). [...]

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Eyrie Chardonnay 1970-2007 Vertical Tasting

Eyrie Vineyards hosted a tasting of 37 vintages of their Chardonnay last week- 1970 through 2007. It was unforgettable.  Jason Lett spent weeks updating Eyrie’s cellar. He tasted through over 1500 bottles of wine from 1970 through the 2000′s, removing the flawed bottles and recorking those still good. In some vintages, over 50% of the [...]

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Mildew, Sunburn, and Voles Oh My!

OSU has released its 2009 guide to Pest Management for Wine Grapes – and a quick scan makes me wonder how anyone grows any grapes at all. For would-be winery owners with visions of their own Pinot vineyard, this PDF is a sobering “must-read”. If, as many of the best winemakers declare “the wine is [...]

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SF Examiner on Belle Pente

Belle Pente’s wines are personal favorites of mine. Brian is, like many other Oregon wine visionaries, a low key winemaker pursuing a personal path and crafting his wines without a lot of attention paid to the prevailing style (i.e. what gets the high Wine Spec ratings). Here’s what the SF Examiner said: “Belle Pente Cellars [...]

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Washington State Now 95%

Seattle PI reports today that, as of Sunday, Washington State winemakers will have  ”A requirement that Washington-labeled wines have at least 95 percent of the grapes used in the production of the wine be grown in the state. Under current rules, the liquor control board allows a wine to be labeled with a note of [...]

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