Avalon Picks the Winners
Avalon picks the winners. For two decades, we've traveled the backroads of Oregon's wine country, seeking out the best rising star Oregon wines.
Our criteria? Quality and value. Originality - a new voice, a unique style. Reliability - consistency from bottle to bottle and vintage to vintage. Extreme involvement - winemakers who do everything: grow the grapes, make the wine, and realize their vision.
Laura Volkman (Volkman Vineyards), Chris Berg (Roots Winery), David Autrey and Amy Wesselman (Westrey) and Scott Neal (Coeur de Terre) are rising stars. They grow their grapes in small estate vineyards and make exceptional wines, largely by themselves. They have unique styles and new ideas that add to and enrich the range of Oregon Pinot noir. And they offer their wines at very reasonable prices.
Roots is the winery of Chris and Hilary Berg. Chris Berg made about 100 cases each of some of the 2007 vintage's best Pinots in any price range. He's not just a rising star, he's a dang exploding nebula (at right).
It would be easy to say that Chris Berg is addicted to making wine. He easily jokes that he needs to find a "balancing point" between production, consumption, and consumer awareness. But, he has a hard time saying no when top vineyard managers call him during the season and offer him grapes. He starts to imagine what the final wine would taste like, how it will age, and there he is again saying "YES, BRING ME YOUR FRUIT!". Which is why he has no less than four single vineyard Pinot designates and an estate blend.
Read more about Roots:
Crazy about this wine
Unique, exotic, and memorable. Intriguing, beautiful incense and red berry scents echo in the intense fresh blackberry and black currant flavors. White pepper and incense are woven into spicy, silky tannins. A long finish of strikingly fresh fruit completes the wine. Only 50 cases produced.
Chris and Hilary Berg bought land on Ribbon Ridge before prices grew out of hand for a young couple just getting started. They planted their 6 acre estate vineyard in 2000 and we've tasted each vintage since the 2003, their first.
In quality and complexity, 2007 is this wine's breakout year. The 07 Estate Pinot noir has moved the vineyard from good to cult status. The Roots Estate Pinot is a wine to grab now, and to watch for in coming years.
The wine is all about sweet blackberries and cream with a velvet texture. Well integrated tannins with a long finish. Lots of intense blackberry and black raspberry. Hints of white pepper and spice. About 100 cases produced.
The name of the vineyard is indicative of the pinot inside the bottle.
Full of lush red cherry and slight wiffs of mineral, this pinot is fruit forward and well integrated. Willakenzie based soil type from 777 and Pommard clones create a well rounded pinot. Only 46 cases produced.
Laura Volkman's mentor is Mike Etzel, of Beaux Freres, and her wines show his classic influence. Laura has a small and fanatical following, mostly longtime Oregon Pinot collectors who know a rising star when they find one.
Laura makes small amounts of estate grown Pinot noir from her 3 acre vineyard. She's known around the wine community for her singular style. She does almost all of the work in the vineyard and the winemaking herself. Intensely focused, she's singlemindedly dedicated to her wine, from first bud through harvest. If you've ever become so focused on a project that nothing else exists, you know how Laura makes her wine.
One of our favorite winemakers, Howard Mozeico of Et Fille, introduced us - he kept telling us about Laura's exceptional wines. Takes one to know one, we say.
Volkman Vineyards' St James Pinot noir 07 is a blend of barrels from the Volkman Estate Vineyard. Originally priced at $30, Laura reduced the price to get the word out about her wines.
Scents are of raspberry and a hint of sweet fruit toast. Flavors of red cherry and raspberry follow. The wine impresses as fresh, sweet, and balanced. The finish has a nice hint of anise spice, more red fruit, and balanced acidity. Price/value ratio is high- a lot of Pinot for the price.
Westrey Pinot noir Oracle Vineyard 07 is the Westrey's estate wine, made from Amy and David's own vineyard. Considering the very high quality of the wine, this is a value that will blow you away.
The Oracle Vineyard property was being used to graze horses when Amy and David bought the land. Although they knew it had been a vineyard, they assumed the vines were dead and planned to start from scratch. Imagine their delight when rows of vines started sprouting the next spring. With careful management, Amy and David brought the neglected site back to life. Today Oracle is one of the oldest producing vineyards in Oregon.
David and Amy grow the grapes and make the wine together, combining their skills to create an original vision. Add the next generation to the winemaking mix - Leo and Soren are already punching down and checking fermentations at the winery (pictured above).
Westrey Pinot noir Oracle Vineyard 07 - The massive vines of Oracle Vineyard produced a beautiful 2007 Pinot. Raspberries and blueberries prevail in the scent and flavors. There's a bit of rich spiciness accenting velvety tannins. A rustic dark note, characteristic of the vineyard, adds depth. Drinking well with food now, expect several years of cellaring to add even more complexity.
Coeur de Terre Pinot noir Willamette Valley 07 is a blend of the winery's de-classified estate fruit. A new lower price point for the winery, this wine represents excellent craftsmanship at a very fair price. A nice merger of Burgundian and Oregon styles, smoke and mineral elements complement fresh red fruit flavors.
Scott and Lisa Neal's Coeur de Terre is one of the hottest new wineries in Oregon. Very few Oregon Pinots are selected two years straight for Avalonís Reserve Pinot Noir Club - yet Coeur de Terre did it. It is one of our Wineries to Watch - their star is rising!
We're available by phone at 541-752-7418
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