News Briefs for April 2009

Destination: Dundee Hills

Explore Yamhill County’s famous Dundee Hills when the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association (DHWA) hosts their fourth annual Passport Tour, April 18–19.

DHWA members invite the public to explore the Dundee Hills AVA (American Viticultural Area) from the ground up, with exclusive wine and vineyard presentations. Wineries, tasting rooms, vineyards and B&Bs will present special tastings and interactive seminars with vineyard experts.

Located 28 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Dundee Hills encompass 6,490 acres. The region’s geology dates back 15 to 17 million years ago when lava flows from northeast Oregon pushed into the Willamette Valley, covering all but the highest hills with up to 1,000 feet of basalt. The catastrophic Missoula floods 10 to 15,000 years ago deposited a blanket of sediment on land below the 200-foot elevation, sparing the original red volcanic hills above the small town of Dundee. Today, the 200-foot contour line defines the Dundee Hills AVA.

The unique relationship between volcanic Jory soils, elevation and protective microclimates has consistently proven ideal for vineyards, and the Dundee Hills have produced many of Oregon’s top, terroir-driven Pinot Noirs for decades.

Passports will be available at participating wineries and vineyards, and online at When stamped by four or more locations, the bearer will be entered into a drawing for prizes, including a deluxe overnight package at a beautiful B&B, wine touring via horseback or horse-drawn carriage and dinner at a fine area restaurant.  

Participants include: Anderson Family Vineyards, Argyle, Archery Summit, Ayoub, Black Walnut Inn & Vineyard, Cleo’s Hill Wines/Murto Vineyard, Crumbled Rock Winery, Daedalus, De Ponte, Dobbes Family Estate/Wine by Joe, Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Domaine Serene, Durant Vineyards & Cottonwood Winery, Erath, The Eyrie Vineyards, The Four Graces, Lange Estate, Maresh Red Hills, Sokol Blosser, Stoller, Thistle, Torii Mor, Vista Hills, White Rose, Winderlea, Wine Country Farm and Winter’s Hill. ◊

Abacela on Point

What was a self-described “Tempranillo guy” doing when he planted a few select blocks of Syrah in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley?

Answer: Simply trying to match another variety to his site climate in order to produce the best grapes and wine he could; and it worked.

The April issue of Wine Enthusiast awarded 95 points to Abacela’s 2005 South Face Reserve Syrah and designated it an “Editor’s Choice.”

In a historical perspective, 95-point wines are rare. An online examination of data from wines reviewed in the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator revealed that together these two magazines have tasted approximately 10,000 Oregon wines, of which they rated only 20 wines from just 12 Oregon wineries at 95 points or higher. The fruit for these wines was not sourced, nor were any of the producing wineries located south of the Pinot-loving Willamette Valley.

Abacela is a family-owned and -operated vineyard and winery with more than 60 acres under cultivation and annual production exceeding 10,000 cases, with varietals such as Tempranillo, Albariño, Garnacha, Syrah, Malbec, Dolcetto and Viognier. ◊

CWA: A Success

At this year’s Classic Wines Auction (CWA), $2.2 million was raised to help 42,000 children and families in need through Metropolitan Family Services, New Avenues for Youth, Friends of the Children–Portland, Trillium Family Services and YWCA Clark County.  More than 750 guests attended the 25th anniversary gala event on Saturday, March 7.

“This year’s auction surprised us with everyone’s generosity, especially in the current economic climate,” said Heather Martin, CWA executive director.

At the Ambassador Dinner, Earl Jones of Abacela received the ORVI Award, Dan Agnew, co-chair of the 2008 auction and longtime supporter of CWA, received the VINI Award, and Dan and Sallie Dutton, who have been involved with CWA for the last ten years, received the Koerner Rombauer Award for Service. ◊

Spring Fever Fun

The Willamette Valley Wineries Association joins Oregon 150 to celebrate our state’s 150th birthday with 150 Days of Wine in the Willamette Valley, a series of events and activities, Feb. 14 through Labor Day weekend.

During the month of April, sip your way through the Valley to discover Oregon’s finest handcrafted wines at a variety of events.

Visit the wineries and vineyards of Calkins Lane on April 4, as they open their doors for their second annual Open House. Journey to 15 neighboring wineries located just minutes from Portland, April 4–5, for a weekend full of fun at the inaugural North Willamette Valley Wine Trail. Listen to informative seminars and taste the terroir during the Dundee Hills Passport Event, April 18–19. And don’t miss the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA Open House at Anne Amie on April 25, where over 20 wineries will sample their wines and local restaurants will offer appetizers.

Visit for more information regarding 150 Days of Wine in the Willamette Valley, including upcoming events and participating wineries. And for specific details, turn to page 32 and look for a bold 150 next to the event name.

Tip your glasses to Oregon with us, and come explore the Willamette Valley. ◊

Flavors Finds Favor

Wine + food + art + music = generous givers. This has proven to be a winning formula once again for Flavors of Carlton, an event that supports youth, family and civic programs in the Carlton and Yamhill areas through local nonprofit Carlton Together Cares (CTC).

Held at Ken Wright Cellars, March 7, the sixth annual edition was bigger and better by every measure. Combined, the oral and silent auctions brought the evening’s total to more than $60,000, of which about $50,000 will go to CTC programs. That’s more than double the amount raised just five years ago.

Owners and key representatives of 21 wineries poured their wines. Eleven chefs served up hearty appetizers and hosted a dessert buffet paired with the wines. Another 23 wineries donated wine lots—a number of which commanded high bids.

Among the rare wine lots were a Baker’s dozen of Pinot vintages between 1981 and 2004 from The Eyrie Vineyards, a vertical of Elk Cove Roosevelt Vineyard Pinot Noir magnums, a magnum each from nine Yamhill-Carlton wineries and a trio of Graham vintage Ports.

This year’s event coordinator, Susan Bandstra, exuded appreciation to those who made it all possible: a core group of 64 volunteers, led by 19 committee chairs.

She reserved special praise for the generosity of this year’s major sponsors: Ken Wright Cellars, WillaKenzie Estate, Laughlin Cartrell, Resonance Vineyard, Noiregonian Consulting, Carlton Farms and the Brookside Inn. ◊

Get Down to Earth

Come experience the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA on Saturday, April 25, from noon to 4 p.m. at Anne Amie Vineyards (6580 N.E. Mineral Springs Rd., Carlton). Taste the terroir from this special enclave of the Willamette Valley with a select gathering of estate wineries.

Each winery will have several wines available for tasting and purchasing, along with food by Yamhill Valley restaurants: Cuvée, La Rambla, Nick’s Italian Café and Joel Palmer House. A $10 tasting fee benefits the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA.

Participating wineries include: Anne Amie, ADEA, Atticus, Barbara Thomas, Belle Pente, Carlton Hill, Carlton Cellars, Elk Cove, Ken Wright, Kramer, Lemelson, Monk’s Gate, Panther Creek, Raptor Ridge, Resonance, Roots, Shea, Sineann, Soléna, Soter, Stag Hollow, Twelve and WillaKenzie Estate. ◊

 Daylight Savings!

Thanks to Bush legislation, Oregon winegrapes now get extra daylight in regards to Daylight Savings. This has sent cheers through the local wine industry; although, environmentalists express alarm. The extra daylight, they say, excelerates global warming. Some environmental extremists even refused to change their clocks.

Vineyard managers had to prune early this year. The extra sunlight will bring bud burst a few weeks early. Hopefully, the shorter nights won’t produce frost.

If extended Daylight Savings becomes permanent, we will see grapes planted in new areas previously too cold. The Puget Sound AVA has petitioned for a double Daylight Savings time. With two extra hours of daylight, Washington will be a serious contender in the Pinot market. ◊ AF!

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