Rare Finds

Tekstura Wine Co. owner Michael Baryla sampling fruit in his Redford-Wetle Vineyard, first planted by wine pioneer Myron Redford. ##Photo Courtesy of TEKSTURA WINE CO.
Silas Wines  co-owners and winemakers Alex Clark and Tony Markward.  ##Photo courtesy of SILAS WINES
Owners Bill and Sandy Sanchez standing in their Chehalem Mountains Potter s Vineyard.##Photo courtesy of Potter’s Vineyard & Vino Vasai WinES
Leigh Brown, founder and winemaker at Lolati Wines. ##Photo courtesy of Lolati Wines
A sample of the award-winning wines produced by Bravuro Cellars. ##PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAVURO CELLARS

By Tamara Belgard Turner

With over 1000 wineries in Oregon, choosing where to taste presents a daunting task. Larger wineries are typically a sure thing, but there are countless micro-producers and boutique wineries making beautiful wines, yet still somewhat overlooked. Put these wineries on your list the next time you visit wine country.

Bravuro Cellars

At Bravuro Cellars, experience warm hospitality alongside big, bold red wines. Owner Steve Saxton spent many harvests in Lodi, California, before returning to his home state. He and wife Luci Serrato brought along their love of warm weather varietals. Founded in 2016, Bravuro Cellars relies on established relationships with legendary Lodi growers. For example, their Carignane is from Jessie’s Grove Vineyard, planted in 1900, and Zinfandel is from 104-year-old vines grown in Soucie Vineyard. But Bravuro makes more than California wines in Oregon; with their estate vineyard planted with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Ranked number six on the Choice Wineries’ Top 10 Oregon Wineries list, enjoy Bravuro wines at their convenient downtown Newberg tasting room. For a real treat, trek out to Bravuro’s stunning Amity location with mountain and vineyard views stretching to the horizon.

CHO Wines

CHO Wines originated as a side project for owner and winemaker Dave Cho, who first developed a passion for sparkling wines while working at Argyle Winery. In 2015, Cho produced his first Blanc de Noirs and now makes traditional method sparkling wine, Pétillant-naturel and Piquette, but his Pinots steal the show.

Cho’s winemaking style shows in his inaugural release of six different iterations of Pinot Noir from a single vineyard. He and wife Lois call it his ‘pent-up passion’— wine he wanted to make while working for others. The winery focuses on Oregon staples: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, and recently added Syrah from the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. Last year, the Chos purchased 77 acres in the Chehalem Mountains AVA with plans to plant 15 acres in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and small quantities of Gamay Noir, Syrah and Aligoté. Their wines are currently available at prominent local restaurants and retail outlets. They are designing a tasting room and winery overlooking the Willamette Valley with a projected open date in late 2023.

Goldback Wines

Located in the Rogue Valley, Goldback Wines is a relatively young up-and-comer. Winemaker Andy Myer focuses on red Rhone varieties Syrah and Grenache, as well as white grape Chenin Blanc. He plans to release a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir next year. Myer searched for a growing region relatively established but poised to take a step onto a bigger stage: the Rogue Valley. He believes the area is still discovering which varieties grow well, with an incredible amount of diversity in terms of grapes and also sites to explore. In 2021, Sound & Vision Wine Co.’s Joe Chepolis and Carmen Nydegger partnered with Myer, founding Catalyst Wine Collective in Phoenix, Oregon. They offer a platform for small producers to connect with consumers. Their wine flights change bi-monthly, showcasing the diversity of grape varieties and winemaking styles in the Rogue Valley.,

Lolati Wines

For years, winemaker Leigh Brown made wine both for and with others before introducing her own label, Lolati Wines, starting with 73 cases of 2019 Primitivo. For her Lolati Wines brand, she favors making bigger red varietals, like Grenache, Primitivo and Syrah, as well as red blends. On the lighter side, Brown also makes a rosé of Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc. She describes her wines as “bold and different from what you usually find in the Willamette Valley.” Currently, Brown purchases fruit from vineyards in Washington. In 2009, she returned to her father's homeland, working harvest in South Africa. Inspired by the broad range of wines from the region, Brown launched Lolati, named after her great-grandfather’s farm. Her wine labels– brightly colored and inspired by African fabrics– stand out on a shelf. Brown invites visitors to her tasting room on Bell Road in Sherwood as she accelerates production, aiming for around 400 cases next year.

Norris Wines

Located in Newberg, Norris Wines produces a thousand cases a year. In 2005, winemaker Robert McKinley bought a house, an old barn and acres of hazelnuts, situated in the tiny Ribbon Ridge AVA. Two years later, grapes were planted; then in 2010, construction began to transform the barn into a state-of-the-art winery and tasting room, where McKinley hosts estate tours and intimate tastings of Pinot Noirs and Rieslings, all grown on-site. There is no signage on the road yet (that will change soon), but guests can expect an upgraded experience.

Potter’s Vineyard & Vino Vasai Wines

Located in the Chehalem Mountains above Newberg, Potter’s Vineyard includes a unique wine-tasting experience combined with a tasting room and clay art gallery. Featuring Pinot Noir from their three-and-a-half-acre estate, owners Bill and Sandy Sanchez source additional fruit from the Columbia Valley AVA to complete their portfolio. With a Chardonnay from some of the oldest Wente clones in the Northwest, a newly released Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, visitors experience a variety of wines unusual in the Willamette Valley. The Sanchezes make under 1,000 cases each vintage with no plans to expand. In addition to being a winemaker, Bill is also a potter with a studio on-site. The tasting room doubles as a gallery for his work and a collective for other local artists, creating a unique, memorable space in which to experience the wines.

Ryan Rose Wine

Ryan Rose Wine, founded in 2015, is winemaker Rob Folin's newest Rogue Valley project. He sources fruit from a number of established vineyards across the state; grapes for his Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs come from Utopia Vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA and de Lancellotti Estate Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Folin purchases all his fruit, allowing him to follow the whims of the vintage and what's available. He produces Tempranillo each year, along with one white or rosé. Folin’s aim remains low production– each wine is just 50 cases (or 2 barrels)– typically producing 350 cases annually. In 2001, he and his father planted a Southern Oregon vineyard and, eight years later, launched Folin Cellars Winery. When they chose to close the winery in 2015, Folin started a new brand, Ryan Rose Wines, with a focus on making wines that he prefers to drink. Ryan Rose doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar tasting room but Folin is nearly finished with his mobile tasting room, a converted 1970s horse trailer built out for events and private parties.

Silas Wines

Silas Wines, with its first commercial vintage in 2010, produces about 1,000 cases annually of Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir, with a rotating selection of aromatic white wines (Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling). Most years, they make sparkling wine too, which disappears quickly through their wine club or at Silas Wines’ Amity tasting room and wine bar called The Bramble. Silas holds their wines until they are ready to drink, which means multiple vintages become available to taste at any given time, perhaps even a five- or six-year vertical. Rather than adhering to a formal release schedule, co-owners and winemakers Alex Clark and Tony Markward realize the wines are ready when they find themselves separately opening, drinking and sharing unreleased bottles with friends.

Because they pick at slightly higher acid levels and age longer in oak, the wines require more time to come together. The Bramble also holds meat curing classes led by Clark.

Tekstura Wine Co.

In addition to working with traditional Willamette Valley varietals Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Tekstura Wine Co. owners Michael and Natasha Baryla also appreciate less common varietals. Their Redford-Wetle Vineyard has been organically farmed since its inception in 2006 when it was planted by wine pioneer Myron Redford. Alongside Pinot Noir and new Chardonnay plantings in their Eola-Amity AVA vineyard, they have Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc and Gamay Noir holdings, all planted in 2006. Under the leadership of winemaker Jared Etzel (who also makes wine for Domaine Roy), the Barylas aim to make an 'experimental' wine each year, like their 2021 skin-contact Albariño, “Skinsy.” They believe the Willamette Valley is at a magical point where innovation challenges tradition.

Moving forward, they plan to expand this program, added more unique grapes into the mix.


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