Exploring the beauty of the Oregon coast, staying at the spectacular Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa

Next time you are visiting Willamette Valley wine country, add an extra day onto your schedule, brave the tsunami warnings and head to the Oregon coast. It is beautiful. This was my second visit: last time I stayed in Cannon Beach, which was lovely. But this visit, to Pacific City, was even better, in large […]

A day in Portland, eating and drinking well

Portland is one of the USA’s most interesting cities. Famous for its coffee (I’ve had the best coffee in my life here), hipsters, the thriving restaurant scene and craft breweries, this is the place people come to retire at 30 (and it has been famously sent up in the excellent TV series Portlandia (https://www.ifc.com/shows/portlandia). I […]

Exploring Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Elaine, Adam and Sam

This year, the theme for the formal tasting at the Central Otago Pinot Celebration was Pinot from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The session was ably led by Elaine Brown, who has spent a lot of time in Oregon, with two Oregon winemakers: Adam Campbell of Elk Cove and Sam Tannahill […]

Oregon Pinot Noir: tasting 11 top examples blind

For the last few days I’ve been at the Southern Pinot Noir workshop at Hamner Springs. It’s an event that brings together winemakers from across New Zealand to taste and discuss each others’ wines. Everyone brings their wines, and then in groups of eight the wines are tasted blind. The discussion that follows is then […]

IPNC: notes on 33 Pinot Noirs from Oregon

The International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) is held each July in McMinnville, Oregon. This was my third time at this remarkable event, which brings together consumers and trade in a happy celebration of this thrilling grape variety, in the lovely setting of the Linfield College grounds. Over the course of the weekend, I tried quite […]

Brooks: Pinot Noir and Riesling from this top Oregon estate

The view from the Brooks tasting room

Brooks is one of Oregon’s unsung stars. Their 14 000 case production is split among many small lots, with the largest fermentation in the winery occurring in 2.5 ton fermenters. They source from a range of growers. They’ve also focused more on a direct to consumer model, which […]

Texsom: some Oregon whites

Today’s team lunch at Texsom featured Oregon wines. But no reds! This was a chance to look at some of Oregon’s whites, and also to branch out beyond the Willamette Valley a little. The wines were presented by Bree Boskov, and these are my notes.

Big Table Farm Chardonnay 2015 Willamette Valley, Oregon
There’s a lovely intensity […]

Tasting Eyrie, Oregon's Pinot pioneer, with Jason Lett

Jason Lett

This week while I was in McMinnville I had a chance to taste through the Eyrie range with Jason Lett. Back in the mid-1960s Jason’s dad, David, planted the first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley, Oregon (there’s a bit of history, including pictures of the original plantings, here). Jason has […]

Highlights from the Washington State and Oregon tasting

These were some of the highlights from this week’s Washington State and Oregon tasting. Some really lovely wines from the Pacific Northwest.

Gramercy Cellars Forgotten Hills Syrah 2014 Walla Walla, Washington State, USA
From the coolest vineyard in Walla Walla this is a deliciously nuanced Syrah made from grapes harvested in October. It’s fresh, livey and peppery with […]

Wines of the year (7) top wines from California and Oregon

Arnot Roberts Peter Martin Ray Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Santa Cruz Mountains, California
This vineyard was planted in the 1940s by Rusty Ray, and the vines that make this wine were planted in 1979. It’s a three-acre block and they get three tons from it, and it’s described as organic by neglect (it’s disced, dry farmed, […]