With provided tablets, guests can discover the many women of Stoller’s Legacy series.##Photo courtesy of Stoller Group
Visitors interact with their virtual surroundings.##Photo courtesy of Stoller Group
Stoller Family Estate’s new Stoller Experience Center features large windows and retractable doors leading to an expansive patio. ##Photo courtesy of Stoller Group
Interactive tasting tables allow visitors to continue their education. ##Photo courtesy of Stoller Group
How rain and sun affect harvest. ##Photo courtesy of Stoller Group
A look at the prehistoric Dundee Hills via VR technology. ##Photo courtesy of Stoller Group

Virtual Success

Stoller finishes one-of-a-kind hi-tech experience center

By Jade Helm

My most recent visit to Stoller Family Estate might be the most fun I’ve ever had in a tasting room. I realize this is a big statement. Then again, it was a big experience — dinosaur big.

Stoller’s new Experience Center is where education meets Epcot. Using cutting-edge, virtual reality (VR) technology, the winery takes guests on a “Grape Journey” spanning 100 million years plus 365 days. The technology is provided by ROAM, whose illustrious partner list includes television networks National Geographic and PBS.

Standing in a room with Stoller’s communications director, Michelle Kaufmann, I waited to be among the first to beta test the new tech. From total darkness came an exact replica of Stoller’s wood-paneled meeting room. Then, the roof lifted, the walls fell away, and we were standing in the VR version of the surrounding vineyards. I don’t know what my expectations were, but they were exceeded in the first 30 seconds.

Over the next 10 minutes, we saw the very land on which Stoller Family Estate sits return to its prehistoric state. Things got Jurassic as we witnessed the origin story of Oregon’s Jory soil. In the foggy distance, majestic dinosaurs — the nice plant-eating kind — roamed the land. Suddenly, we were underwater — as was the Dundee Hills at this point in history — and the sea creatures swimming right before our faces were less than friendly looking. This is when things got real — I had to close my eyes to prove to myself I was still in 2020 — as lava flowed and volcanic rock formed the Dundee Hills in a format that no flat screen could duplicate.

Next, we experienced the life of the grape, from bud break to blending. I don’t want to spoil any surprises but expect giant wine bottles with talking labels, flying grapes and the opportunity to make a virtual blend. Behind my COVID mask was the biggest grin, and I had not even participated in a tasting.

Tasting, though, is not to be missed. The new Experience Center is everything you love about Stoller’s traditional tasting room — spacious, open air, surrounded by natural beauty — plus even more tech fun. Order a tasting flight, maybe get the bottle you blended in your VR experience, or look to the tasting bar for some inspiration; here you will find a mural that blends the artistry of painting and technology in a magical way.

What appears to be a mural of Stoller’s estate, complete with tire swing and Adirondack chairs, is so much more. Oregon-based artist Jonmar has created an augmented-reality experience with technology within the painting. Aim a Stoller tablet, like a spy device, to reveal the secrets beneath. Watch as painters create hidden portraits of the significant ladies of Stoller and listen as founder Bill Stoller tells their stories and how they inspired the namesake labels from Stoller’s Legacy series.

Aunt Elsie’s beauty is reflected in the Legacy Chardonnay. Bill says the richness and pretty perfume of this wine reminds him of his favorite aunt, Helen. She lived in the estate house and was a treasured figure in both Bill’s childhood and his sons’. “The first time I tasted our Pinot Noir made with 100% Wadenswil clone, I knew this was Helen’s namesake wine,” he said. “The tart cherry flavor took me right back to the cherry pies Helen made so often from the tree on the estate.”

Stoller’s sparkling wine is named for Bill’s effervescent wife and partner, LaRue. He describes sparkling wines as being all about the positives in life: the successes, enjoyment and celebration. That positive outlook is one of the attributes Bill admires about his wife. “She has never met a stranger, and she sees the good in all people and situations,” Bill said. Nancy is Bill’s sister and the lady honored in Legacy Nancy’s Pinot Noir made with 100% Pommard-clone fruit. According to Bill, this clone gives the wine a “uniqueness, broadness and great structure,” traits he sees in his sister who grew up in a house full of brothers. As a young girl, Nancy learned to drive the truck for harvest and was top of her class.

The Pinot Noir named after Bill’s beloved mother, Ruth, is made from four to five barrels of the best vineyard sections and, according to Bill, is their most complex Pinot Noir. “My mother, Ruth, was a combination of so much intelligence and talent.” Ruth was an artist and historian who wrote books about Yamhill County’s cemeteries, school districts and the Trask Mountain Trail.

As the stories end, the portraits are once again concealed by the vineyard mural. Your mind can shift to tasting and some “independent study” at one of the digital tasting tables. These tables feature a huge touch-screen grid displaying the most frequently asked questions in the tasting room, like “What is a clone?” or topics more specific to Stoller: “How old is the tire swing?”

When finished with virtual and augmented reality offerings, take a moment to enjoy the actual reality of Stoller’s vineyards and natural biodiversity — perhaps with a new appreciation.

Stoller’s Experience Center is open to the public. Participation in special education technology requires a reservation. A deposit of $40 is applied to your tasting or any wine and food purchases. There is no additional charge for virtual dinosaurs and up to five people can go on the “Grape Journey” together. COVID precautions are strictly observed.



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