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Andrew Rich Winery came into being when Andrew Rich moved from Santa Cruz, California, to Portland, Oregon, in 1994–after a six-year stint at Bonny Doon Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. He moved with the idea of giving Rhône varietals a particularly Northwest spin. Pity the grapes just weren't there yet.


With the 1999 vintage, the Syrah finally came in, but in the meanwhile Rich turned his attention to Pinot Noir and Cabernet, the flagship grapes of Oregon and Washington. Mainstream, sure, but in a brave act of redemption he has taken up the cause of the noble and greatly underappreciated Chenin Blanc, and continues to make a case for Rosé. His Sauvignon Blanc has a following that buys up his entire supply a few months after release.


Two labels exist, Tabula Rasa ("blank slate") is the post-card label, originally reserved for blended wines, while varietal wines made in limited quantities are designated Les Vigneaux ("The Little Vineyards"). The current ensemble comprises an octet of highly distinctive wines-white, pink, red, redder, sweet-culminating in the sensuous, opulent, and oh-so-well-balanced Gewurztraminer ice wine.


Andrew left a successful career as a magazine editor to enroll in wine school in the Burgundy region of France, where he developed an interest in the wines of the Rhone. The one other American student was Oregonian John Eliassen (now of La Bete wines). Andrew soon became friends with John and wife Kay. Their freindship would lead to his discovery of Oregon.


After studying in France and developing an interest in the wine of the Rhone, Andrew sought work that would allow him to develop his skills with Rhone varietals. He was attracted to Bonny Doon Vineyard in California when he discovered that Randall Grahm, Bonny Doon's owner and winemaker, was making wines from Rhone varietals. Andrew applied for and got a position as "cellar rat" and later was placed in charge of Bonny Doon's second wine cellar. He was in charge of making the white wines, including the dessert wines, beginning with the '89 vintage. He remained at Bonny Doon for the 90, 91, 92, and part of the 93 vintages, moving to Oregon in January 1994.


Andrew chose Oregon after his friends the Eliassens invited him to volunteer for the '88 IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration, held in Yamhill County each year). He enjoyed the experience and returned to Oregon over the next few year, making other wine industry friends. The more time he spent in Oregon the more he liked it, and six years later he decided that Oregon was his place to be.


Andrew worked at Ponzi in 1994 for the harvest and by '95 was making Grenache and Syrah under his Tabula Rasa label. He made his '95 vintage at, his '96-'99 vintages at Eola Hills Winery, his 2000 and Witness Tree Vineyard 2001 at Adelsheim, and starting with the 2002 vintage, makes his wines at the new Carlton Winemakers Studio.

 


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