One of the most striking facets of this trip has been how nice the people are here. Yes, I know when you are press visiting wineries, people are usually showing you their best face, but beyond this, I've been struck by a genuine warmth, and also the sense of camaraderie that exists between the growers here. Any region that could have sustained an event such as the IPNC for 22 years has to have some special sense of cooperative endeavour and working for the greater good - the internal rivalries that exist in many regions globally would have ensured that an event like this would have imploded long ago, if it ever got off the ground.
I started off at Eyrie Vinyeards, one of the pioneers here, with a meeting with Jason Lett (above) and Emily Stoller Smith. Jason has recently taken over from his father, David, but only came back to the family business rather late, after having spent some time working as an ecologist in New Mexico. The wines here are quite beautiful, made in a light, elegant style but with real complexity and development potential. I was really taken by the beauty of these expressions of Pinot, and found the Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc pretty impressive, too.
Lunch was at Domaine Drouhin Oregon, whose vineyards are remarkable for their Burgundian-style close spacing and low hedging. The wines are pretty impressive, too. David Millman (MD) and Arron Bell (cellarmaster) are pictured. We lunched causally on BLT sandwiches washed down with some of the DDO wines. It was an extremely informal visit, but fun. By now the morning clouds had lifted and it was another gorgeously sunny summer's day.
Next up was Torii Mor, where I met Margie Olsen and her French winemaker Jacques. They have a beautiful new winery which supplies almost half its power requirements with large solar panels. The tasting room has a Japanese garden, and stunning views from the hilltop location. The wines, once again, impressed. Pictured above is some work in the cellar, moving the wine from barrel to a blending tank with the help of nitrogen.
The final winery visit was at Stoller. A large estate that had once been a turkey farm is now a stunning vineyard with an equally stunning new winery. Here I met with winemaker Melissa Burr and cellar room manager Mich Nelson (pictured), who were both charming, and tasted the wines, which were very impressive (this is getting a bit boring, isn't it? Can we have some bad wine? Anyone? Anyone?). Melissa had a cross-flow filtration unit running, which she was very excited about - we compared the before and after versions of the 2007 JV Pinot Noir which was running through it at the time.
Finally, the Founder's dinner at Ponzi's restaurant in Dundee. Along with Nanci Ponzi, the company assembled was Myron Redford and Vicki Wetle (Amity), Jim Bernau (Willamette Valley Vineyards), Marilyn Webb (Bethel Heights), Susan Sokol Blosser (Sokol Blosser) and fellow writers Tom Cannavan and Stephen Brook. A jollier, more friendly crowd you could not wish to meet, and we drank (and spat; we were all driving) some lovely wines, including a stunning 1978 Winemaker's Reserve Pinot Noir from Amity.
It's now my final morning, and I have two visits before catching my plane home.
As usual, all these visits will be written up in depth on the main site.