Oregon’s Willamette Valley is gem in the crown of American Wine Making. Identified as a place of note in the 1970s, wine pioneers searched and sought out some of the world’s finest plots to grow majestic Pinot Noir and seductive Chardonnay.
In addition to focusing on quality over quantity, the Oregon wine industry launched the LIVE (Low Imput Viticulture and Enology) program to certify the sustainable practices of winegrowers in the Pacific Northwest in 1999. And to further their commitment to environmental responsibility, they also have implemented the Salmon-Safe program to keep urban and agricultural watersheds clean enough for salmon to thrive. As a community, sustainability is the cornerstone of what makes Oregon a remarkable place for wine.
To celebrate the passion and creativity of Oregon winemakers, this month’s luxury feature showcases five small-yield, highly rated producers that you should have in your cellars:
Purple Hands is a pure product of passion for Pinot Noir. Alliteration aside, this winery was started by Cody Wright, son of Ken Wright, and his wife, Marque, daughter of Rolin Soles (Argyle). Both literally grew up in the winery in the presence of Pinot greatness. Now, with their own winery, Cody and Marque are creating amazing, site specific Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (not in IN, yet) that speaks to both the Oregon soil and the ability for Pinot Noir to reveal its many layers. I had the honor to speak with Cody on The Liquor Store Podcast and his passion is undeniable and his wines are transcendent.
Purple Hands Lone Oak Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley $24.99
91 Points Wine Enthusiast
This is compounded from eitht vineyards scattered over five Willamette Valley AVAs. A lovely wine, it tastes of ripe plums accented with savory herbs and red licorice. It’s seamless and compelling, clearly given the same care as the unblended single-vineyard wines of which it is composed.
Purple hands Shea Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton District $49.99
92 Points Wine Spectator
Distinctive aromas of blueberry, sandalwood and savory tea open to rich, supple flavors, turning brooding as this finishes with medium-grain tannins. Drink now through 2026.
Evesham Wood was founded with the idea that small is beautiful. The winery relies on two basic principles to achieve the high level of quality that has garnered accolades from the top wine pundits: obtaining optimal ripe, low-yield fruit from the best possible sites and using minimal intervention in the winemaking process. Evesham Wood is a certified Organic vineyard and winery and also is associated with the organic/ biodynamic organization ‘Renaissance des Appellations’, whose members are required to adhere to rigid organic and quality standards.
2017 Pinot Noir Le Puits Sec Eola-Amily hills $45.99
425 Cases produced
91 points Burghound
Intermingiling notes of eath and flowers move to an explosive mid-palate of red fruits and plum followed by and elegant, bright, lifted finish. Stock up and experience the evolution of this wine over the next decade.
Lingua Franca was founded in 2015 by Larry Stone, David Honiq and Dominique Lafon. Inspired by the exceptional vineyard site Larry bought in Eola-Amity Hills they hired a very talented Thomas Savre, a young winemaker who has worked at some for the best domains in Burgundy but also a spirit for adventure. Believing that complex and undisturbed ecosystems help create the most complex and seductive wines, the winemaking and farming practices all adhere to environmentally responsible standards.
Lingua Franca was a top 100 Winery of 2019 from Wine & Spirits and was the only New World Pinot to make Jancis Robinson’s ‘What to Serve Your Friends’ list in 2018.
2018 Lingua Franca The Plow Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity hills $64.99
650 cases produced
94 Points Wine spectator
“Graceful in its complexity and elegantly expressive, offering lithe raspberry and cherry flavors that are laced with a hint of crushed stone and black tea that build tension toward medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2029.” – Tim Fish
Big Table Farm is a collaborative effort between winemaker Brian Marcy and artist Clare Carver. Brian cut his winemakeing teeth at notable producers such as Neyers, Turley Wine Cellars and Marcassin. Clare’s art has won multiple awards for her labels for Beaux Freres, Miner Family Vineyards and Phelps Creek. Together, Brian and Clare moved to Oregon from Napa to start a winery, build a winemaking facility and plant a vineyard. In addition to making wine, they have established a working farm where they raise poultry, pigs, cows and egg0-laying chickens. The labels feature a single fam animal and are hand-cut, printed by using a letterpress and glued by hand on each bottle.
2019 Big Table Farm The Wild Bee Chardonnay, Willamette Valley $34.99
The 2019 Wild Bee welcomes you with aromas of delicate white rose petals, ripe Asian pear and vanilla-spiced almonds. Impressions of tangy key-lime pie with a subtle graham cracker crust balance on the palate alongside hints of honeysuckle and ripe papaya. An electric, mouthwatering finish slowly recedes, revealing a touch of sea salt along with a gentle kiss of crème fraiche. *A Favorite!
2019 Big Table Farm Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley $54.99
A comforting warmth on the nose flaunts a gorgeous impression of dried cranberry, black cherry and raspberry. Upon the first sip, subtle notes of dried violets, lavender and rose hip guide the senses towards a satisfying savoriness. On the palate, ripe, red fruit and cherry-cola are enhanced by anise, white pepper, Provencal herbs, and a hint of iron minerality. Velvery tannins dance with the abundant acidity, creating a lingering finish perfect for any occasion. Soft tannins linger on the palate just long enough to make you want another sip.