Four by Two

Patrick Reuter and Leigh Bartholomew opened their Dominio IV facility in 2009. Photo by Marcus Larson.
The winery/tasting room is located in McMinnville’s Granary District. Photo by Marcus Larson.

By Karl Klooster

Patrick Reuter and Leigh Bartholomew are a married couple who did what many of us look back over our lives and say, “I wish I’d done that.”

Oregon-born Reuter had never lived anywhere else. She, on the other hand, was a Navy brat growing up in ports around the world.

Bartholomew’s father, who rose to the rank of captain over the course of his career, took the family to far-flung places, including London, where she spent her high school years at the city’s American school.

After graduation, she chose to attend the University of Oregon because her grandparents lived in Reedsport, just 60 miles from Eugene, and the area had always held a certain allure.

She didn’t discover the “most” alluring component of her life, however, until she was ensconced in a dorm on the sprawling Eugene campus. “I looked out the window one day, saw this cute red-headed guy ride by on a bike, and said to myself, ‘He’s going to be my boyfriend.’”

Bartholomew is obviously a woman who gets what she wants, because it wasn’t long before the two were dating. They had become close by the time they graduated in 1992.

Then they actually did what everybody talks about doing, but very few actually do. “We decided to take off and experience a bit of the world,” Bartholomew said.

Their first stop was Yokohama, Japan, where her father was stationed. “We taught English there for almost eight months and traveled all over the country,” she said.

As for the development of their interest in wine, Reuter said, “We had gone to some wine tastings together at Sundance Cellars in Eugene while we were at the U of O, so we knew we liked wine, but we weren’t really into it yet.”

Their passion for wine was born when they returned from Japan and settled in Seattle for a while to get their bearings before moving on once again. Reuter went to work as a paralegal at a cancer research center, and Bartholomew found a job in a classy restaurant, which, no surprise, had an exceptionally good wine list. During their two and a half years in the Emerald City, the wine bug bit.

Interested in the industry, they helped out with harvest at the nearest winery they could find, Andrew Will on Vashon Island, west of Seattle on Puget Sound. The ferry rides were frequent. Wanting to go to the University of California at Davis, Bartholomew took wine-related pre-requisite classes at Seattle Central Community College and did lab work at the University of Washington.

Having tied the knot in August 1996, with a full-blown family wedding at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, the newlyweds were ready for yet another life adventure. Both applied to enter the internationally acclaimed viticulture and enology program at UC-Davis, and both were accepted.

But they had more than half a year to kill before the next program slots opened. It didn’t take them long to determine that the best thing to do was head south, way south.

It was harvest time in the Southern Hemisphere, and the most exciting places in the emerging world of wine were Chile, the longest and narrowest nation on the planet, and New Zealand, the most southerly.

A whirlwind of wine activity ensued, during which the couple experienced the explosive growth occurring in valleys north and south of Santiago as well as the Sauvignon Blanc mania sweeping Marlboro, at the north end of South Island.

While in Chile, they were responsible for running an entire winery on their own. They had only four workers, none of whom spoke English.

“We put an idled facility back into operation to handle a bumper harvest,” Bartholomew said. “Otherwise, the grapes would have gone to waste.” Reuter added, “We had to figure everything out for ourselves. Somehow we managed to make it work.”

The down-under experience behind them, they returned stateside to immerse themselves in the two-year program at Davis. Grapegrowing engrossed Bartholomew, while Reuter specialized in soils.

In 1999, Mondavi in nearby Napa Valley and ZD in Sonoma beckoned the newly minted master’s degree holders for a time. Then the urge to travel overtook them once again. It was off to Vietnam, India and Russia; then on to the Burgundy region to work harvest in the vaunted wine village of Gevrey-Chambertin.

A French vintage under their belts, they returned to Oregon in 2000. Staying with Reuter’s parents in Salem, the Yamhill Valley became the focus of their search for wine work.

Reuter found a spot at REX HILL, and Bartholomew found herself in the family way. Nearly simultaneous with the birth of their first son, Finigan, in 2002, she landed a vineyard management position at Archery Summit.

Needing to finally settle down, they put themselves on a new path. She would continue in what was turning out to be a rewarding position at Archery Summit, while he would look after their son and launch their own brand.

That year, a succession of events put the new winery venture on its upward path. The Columbia Gorge fit into the plan, as did an association with Carlton Winemakers Studio.

The name they selected, Dominio IV, reflects a bit of whimsy and Old World style intertwined with serendipitous symbolism based on fours. A labyrinth, with its four quadrants, is incorporated into the label design. They make their wines from four grape varieties. The year has four seasons. Dominio IV wines are released four times a year.

Oh, yes. And the Reuter/Bartholomew family now consists of four people: Patrick, Leigh, Finigan and Quincy, their second son, born in 2005.

Their own vineyard had been part of the couple’s calculations for some time. A predominantly southeast-facing, 37-acre piece of land near Mosier, Ore., proved a perfect fit. After close inspection of the site, aspect and, especially, as it’s Reuter’s passion, terroir, they determined 15 acres was suitable for winegrapes.

Meantime, recently retired U.S. Navy Captain Glenn Bartholomew and his wife, Liz, decided to visit the couple, not to mention see their grandchild for the first time. Before they knew it, they found themselves living in a double-wide trailer at the vineyard, which their daughter and son-in-law had dubbed Three Sleeps.

But there would be no snoozing for these retirees. Not only were they turned into vineyardists, they also become the hosts of a new B&B constructed on the property.

They agreed to adhere to the couple’s requirement that farming be carried out according to the stringent, holistic principles of Biodynamics. Originally proposed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924, this time-intensive approach to agriculture is demanding, but adherents, including the Dominio IV clan, are convinced of its enhanced value for the land and the crops it produces. 

Thus far, eight acres have been planted to Tempranillo, Viognier and Syrah. One acre, by the way, is laid out like a labyrinth. Fruit for their fourth variety, Pinot Noir, is sourced from selected Yamhill Valley sites; all are planted in standard configurations.

Special lots come their way from Archery Summit, of course, owing to Bartholomew’s watchful eye, which oversees every row and vine that yields grapes for her employer’s wine. Additionally, Stermer, Bella Vida and Maresh vineyards contribute Pinot Noir to wines bearing names such as “Love Lies Bleeding” and “A Monk’s Amble.”

If imaginative monikers stimulate the mind of a poet, then Reuter has found his muse — The Arrow and The Berry Tempranillo, You Write in Wine Syrah, Still Life Viognier, and blends Spellbound (Syrah/Tempranillo) and Technicolor Bat (Tempranillo/Syrah).

He even has his expressive words printed on the labels, quipping, “People are paying to read my writing every time they buy a bottle.” So, if you want to read some, you’ll have to buy some. And that some has increased ten-fold over the course of 10 years. Dominio IV’s initial production in 2002 was 350 cases. In 2012, it will be 3,500 cases.

Dominio IV

Address: 845 N.E. Fifth St. McMinnville
Hours: Fri.–Sat., noon to 5 p.m.
Phone: 503-474-8636

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