Oregon wine country, day 3
Some brief notes from the road. Day 3, Oregon. Started off at Beaux Freres winery, with Mike Etzel. It was a really educational visit. Mike has two hillside vineyards, hidden away among woodland - indeed, most of his property is wooded, and it's quite beautiful. The vineyards are farmed biodynamically, and the wines are among Oregon's most prized. Above is the in-row cultivator at work, while below the old fire engine is used for developing the compost heaps, which need a lot of water. We spent a fair bit of time in the vineyards, tasted some barrels and then had lunch at a brilliant, inexpensive Mexican joint in town.
After glorious sunshine all the way, the weather was a bit of a shock: showers and temperatures in the high sixties made it feel pretty cool. Next up, one of the pioneers, Elk Cove. Adam, who has taken over from his parents, recalls that when they came here in the early 1970s the family lived in a van as the site was developed - and this was when there were less than 100 acres of vines in Oregon.
Patton Valley Vineyards was a good visit: Jerry Murray runs this small operation, and has a welcoming committee of two very sweet dogs, a beagle and a Boston Terrier (she's pictured here with a vole in her mouth).
Finally, dinner was with the Oregon Chardonnay Alliance (ORCA). David Adelsheim was responsible for identifying the problem with Oregon Chardonnay (the wrong clone was being used) and he helped bring the Bernard clones into Oregon in the 1980s. Since then the quality of Oregon Chardonnay has leapt, but for some reason each year there's less and less of it, as everyone goes after Pinot Gris and the other Alsace aromatics for whites. We enjoyed a really nice dinner at Nick's Italian in McMinnville, with some great Chardonnay. David Millman of Domaine Drouhin Oregon was also there, along with Chris Sawyer (a writer) and his buddy.