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Spotlight on Alsace Wines

Spotlight on Alsace Wines


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The French wine region produces wines unlike anything else in the country

Few wine regions can claim pure expression: Alsace is an exception.

Against the backdrop of the Vosges Mountains, winemakers in this picturesque region are singularly blessed with the purest conditions: ancient soils and grapes, and an extraordinary climate — one of the driest in France. Here, minerality and freshness aren’t just concepts, they are the story of the wines. With 13 distinct terroirs, each yielding their own expression of noble grapes, Alsace has a mosaic of soils unlike anywhere else.

Alsace offers a vast diversity of styles that can please all tastes and complement all tables — from sparkling crémant d’Alsace and racy riesling to easy-going, medium-bodied pinot blanc. Need inspiration for a seasonal pairing? Alsace has a wine for that: pinot gris with earthy mushrooms or gewurztraminer with aromatic pumpkin dishes. No matter what you choose, you’ll find pleasure in all these wines.

A centuries-old heritage of skilled winemaking truly gives the wines of Alsace a taste of place and tradition that you can find in every glass. Every swirl releases floral and mineral aromas; every sip reveals fresh and vibrant fruit. That's the pure expression of Alsace.

Click here for more from The Daily Sip.


Alsace has always been in a bit of a pickle. Its perilous location on the border of Germany and France made the area a tug-of-war for centuries. Today if you visit Alsace, you can see how the interventions of two mega empires affected the area through its architecture and the presence of both French and German languages.

The food and the wine of Alsace is also a bit of a mish mash. For instance, Germanic grape varieties like Gewurztraminer and Riesling dominate the French départment, but in Alsace they are produced in a very different style.

For this guide we’ll discuss what the major Alsace grape varieties and styles of wine are as well as some history for relevance.

circa 1964 harvest. This is the Haut-Rhin in Guebershwihr, Alsace -vins Alsace archive


Wines from the Lidl French wine sale

My selections this week are from the Lidl French wine sale plus some new Alsace wines from Karwigs in Carrigaline, Co Cork &mdash Chateau d&rsquoOrschwihr.

The wines are not long in stock so have not yet made their way to many other outlets yet, so you may have to head out to their own (charming) shop.

Alsace has long been a favourite region of mine but I know it is difficult for many consumers to get their head around, especially anyone with memories of inexpensive German wine in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Alsace bottles look German and the grape varieties are more associated with Germany but this is very much a French wine region and the wines are usually dry.

The Vosges Mountains protect the region and create a microclimate perfect for growing grapes like Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot (blanc, gris and noir).

Alsace is not a region I recommend you buy in bulk in French supermarkets without tasting the wine as it can be rather light and dull, but from a good producer they can be taut and thrilling.

The first mention of Château d’Orschwihr is in the 16th century and relates to the sale of a barrel of wine to the Murbach Abbey but grapes have been grown on their patch of land since Roman times.

The current owners, the Hartmann family, have been running the estate since the 1950s and have around 25 hectares under vine.

I review their Riesling and Gewurz below but their Pinot Blanc and Gris are also well made.

Lidl have a French wine sale on at the moment with a selection of around 20 wines from well known regions beyond their standard range.

The sale began earlier this week and the wines will be available until stocks run out.

I recommend a few of the wines that showed best at the press tasting below.

Some wines I didn’t have room for include an intriguing demi-sec (or Moelleux) Alsace Pinot Gris which will work well with duck or goose liver paté or a ripe Milleens or Munster cheese.

Puech Morny Gigondas (€14.99) had good plum and black fruits while the Cave des Charmilles Moulin-à-Vent (€11.99) had some light cherry fruit and the Bordeaux wines from 2014 and 2015 were all eminently drinkable.

Alsace Riesling AOP 2015, France — €9.99

There are two good Alsace Rieslings in the Lidl sale including a richly- fruited Grand Cru Engelberg one from JP Muller at €15 and this lighter version for a bargain tenner. I liked the straightforward freshness of this which is packed with apple aromas and has a fine tense, clean finish.

Chéreau Carré Muscade Sévre-et-Maine Réserve Numérotee, Loire — €9.99

Muscadet is going through a bit of a revival and quality has improved across the board — the sub-region of Sévre-et-Maine being the most reliable. I liked this zingy freshness of this which even has a hint of spritz so is perfect as an aperitif. Muscadet and fresh oysters are a joyous combination but also try with Mussles or grilled prawns.

Chateau Tour Negrier Médoc AOP, Bordeaux, France — €11.99

There are a few good value Bordeaux wines in the sale including this decent Médoc from 2014 (the first good vintage since 2010). Solid ripe cedar tinged plum and blackcurrant fruit, fruity and fresh with reasonably supple tannins. Also try the Chateau Chaigneau Lalande-de-Pomerol.

Chateau d’Orschwihr Gewurztraminer 2013, Alsace, France — €21.95

Stockists: Karwigs Carrigaline, karwigwines.ie, JJ O’Driscolls, Independents.

Alsace Gewurztraminer, we now know, is actually genetically the same as Savignan from the Jura but you would never believe it if you tasted the wines side by side. This is ripe and aromatic with rose petals and lychees and a mouth-filling fruity exuberance yet with a dry finish.

Chateau d’Orschwihr Riesling Bollenberg 2015, Alsace, France — €19.49

Stockists: Karwigs Carrigaline www.karwigwines.ie JJ O’Driscolls, Independents.

The estate’s Riesling vines average over 50 years old and are grown on a limestone soil. This has a bright apple and pear character with a distinct confit pear ripeness on the middle palate and a dry clean finish and not even a hint of petrol.

Chateau l’Ange de Ripeau Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2014, France — €16.99

Saint-Émilion Grand Cru is the rough equivalent of Cru Bourgeois in the Médoc across the Gironde estuary and is not to be equated with wines of Grand Cru Classé status. This has lots of soft dark fruits with hints of chocolate and plum — perhaps decant this to open it up a bit further and serve with steak.


Spotlight on Alsace Wines - Recipes

Salade Alsacienne
Alsatian specialty salad

Salade Alsacienne or Alsatian Salad

Flammekueche
Flambee tart

Flammekueche

Tarte a l'Oignon
Alsatian onion tart

Tarte à l'Onignon or Onion tart

Alsace Charcuterie
Alsatian cold cuts

Charcuterie

Foie Gras d'Oie
Goose liver paté

Foie Gras-Patés

Bretzel
Bow shaped and crispy salted biscuit Choucroute garnie a l'Alsacienne
Alsatian Sauerkraut, a dish par excellence

Alsatian Choucroute

Baeckeoffe
Also known as Baeckenoffa or Baeckeffe Chou Rouge aux Pommes et aux Marrons
Red cabbage with apples and chestnuts

Chou Rouge aux Pommes et aux Marrons

Coq au Riesling
Chicken simmered in Riesling wine

Coq au Riesling

Truite "au bleu"
Alsace specialty poached trout

Truite "au bleu"

Matelote de Poissons au Riesling
Fish stew with Riesling wine

Matelote de Poissons

Tartes aux Fruits
Fruit tarts

Tartes aux Fruits

Tarte au Fromage Blanc
An Alsatian dessert par excellence

Tarte au Fromage Blanc

Soufflé au Kirsch
Souffle flavored with kirsch liqueur

Soufflé au Kirsch

Pain d'Epices Alsacien
Alsatian gingerbread

Tarte de Samoule au Cassis

Kougelhopf
Raisin and almond yeast cake Munster
Alsace specialty cheese Munster
Alsace specialty cheese

Home-Style Alsatian Dishes

Todd Coleman

These 9 recipes from the region of Alsace, on the border of Germany and France, exemplify the rich, hearty dishes characteristic of the area’s unique cuisine.

Tarte Flambee (Alsatian Bacon and Onion Tart)

Heating a pizza stone for an hour before baking gives this savory tart a super crispy crust.

Sauerkraut with Pork and Sausages (Choucroute Garnie)

This hearty dish of wine-braised sauerkraut, cured pork, and sausages comes from Alsace, in northeastern France.

Bacheofe (Alsatian Meat and Vegetable Stew)

This wine-simmered dish of meat and vegetables cooked in a dough-sealed pot is Alsatian through and through. Traditionally, choucroute au poisson was a dish made in Alsatian riverside villages, but today restaurants throughout Alsace serve a version in which filets of flaky, white-fleshed fish such as pike perch are pan-fried or poached and served on a bed of choucroute and topped with a creamy riesling sauce. We found that trout works beautifully, too. See the recipe for Sauerkraut with Fish in Cream Sauce »

Crayfish Soup

Crayfish were once so plentiful in Alsatian waters that soups like this one, served at L’Ecrevisse in Brumath, were common. See the recipe for Crayfish Soup »

Farmhouse Chicken in Vinegar Sauce

This simple but delicious dish is an Alsatian classic. See the recipe fo Farmhouse Chicken in Vinegar Sauce »

Grape Tart

Recipes like this one hearken back to the days when farmers stored grapes in their attics. See the recipe for Grape Tart »

Pike Perch Braised in Pinot Noir

Light fruity pinot noir is often paired with mild-tasting fish like this European pike perch, a member of the walleye family. See the recipe for Pike Perch Braised in Pinot Noir »

Venison Stew

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Hunawihr: a nest in the vineyards

It’s fun to get lost in the vineyards around this village, one of the most typical in Alsace with its old dungeon church, fortified cemetery and vinegrowers’ houses with gables and paved courtyards. It tells the story of the holy washerwoman Huna, who poured fountain wine at a time when the grapes were failing. You can visit the informative Naturoparc where storks – emblems of Alsace and considered lucky charms for houses where they choose to nest – hold the spotlight.
Hunawihr (External link)


The Best Recipes to Pair with Riesling

Riesling&aposs crisp, palate-refreshing acidity helps explain its well-earned reputation as an exceptional food wine. Find out what to pair with one of the world&aposs great food wines.

Riesling is frequently bright with acidity and, depending on where it&aposs grown, on the low-alcohol side, with flavors of apple and citrus.

Depending on the age of the wine, Riesling offers a wide range of aromas -- fruit aromas like green apples and limes, peaches and grapefruit, floral aromas like honeysuckle earthy smells like mineral and slate as well as some unexpected aromas like diesel fuel and toast.

Despite being so food-friendly, Riesling is often overlooked when we&aposre deciding on a dinner wine. Why all this neglect? Some of it could be the baffling wine labels on German Rieslings: So many long German words, so little sense to make of them. Or it could be that sometimes Rieslings are somewhat sweet, though they can also be quite dry ("dry" simply means "not sweet")-- Rieslings really run the full gamut.

But don&apost be turned off by a little sweetness. It&aposs a trademark of Riesling that even the sweet versions will offer enough palate-refreshing acidity to keep things balanced, so they&aposre still crisp rather than cloying. If you&aposre not sure if it&aposs dry or sweet, just ask the wine merchant.


Taste and Flavor Profile

The classic, tell-tale aroma of lychee is Gewürztraminer's trademark and a dead giveaway in a blind tasting. The fruity scent is sweet and lightly tropical. Smokey notes, rose petals, grapefruit, and the richer character of pineapple may all make their way into the well-woven aromatics of a great bottle of Gewürztraminer.

Gewürztraminer tends to have medium to low acidity, and while it is often made in a dry style, the dynamic aromatics and fuller mouthfeel can give a palate impression of sweetness. The exact level of sweetness will depend on the bottle, as it can be made in dry, off-dry, and sweet styles. On the palette, Gewürztraminer can exhibit flavors of ripe peach, orange, and honey, as well as the telltale lychee. Since it is a white wine made from pink grapes, it is low in tannins.

How to Taste Wine

Follow a few steps when tasting wine to ensure you have the best experience:

  1. Look: Take a good look at the wine, examining the color and opacity through the glass.
  2. Smell: Swirl your glass for 10 seconds and take a quick whiff. Then stick your nose into the wine glass for a deep inhale, taking in your first impressions of the wine.
  3. Taste: Take a small sip and let it roll around your mouth. Note the acidity, sugar, tannins, and alcohol content when first tasting, then move on to tasting notes (berries, spice, wood) and finally the finish.

Food and wine pairings | What to eat with an Alsace cuvée

Usually associated with its fine, white wines, Alsace is a goldmine for any wine lover with a taste for real flavour. Its strength? The noble nature of its varietals. Its biggest asset? These cuvées can be enjoyed from aperitif all the way to dessert. Dominant on this terroir with its rich geological history, Alsace’s white wine is also great for serving with fine food. Here’s a meal idea from start to finish to get your mouth watering…

Awaken your tastebuds

Vinified using almost all of the region’s varietals, crémant blanc has aromatic finesse and liveliness enough to really excite your palate! While your guests are settling in, serve some refined cheese cubes or seafood rillettes for the perfect accompaniment. These will bring out the floral and fruity character of the crémant without altering it.

Gentil and Edelzwicker for starters

Whilst Alsace is well-known for the spotlight it puts on its individual varietals, there are also some blends crafted here, and these are Gentil and Edelzwicker. The latter is simply a contraction of the words ‘edel’, which means noble, and ‘zwicker’, which means blend. This means that at least half of the blend must be a noble, regional grape, such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris or Muscat. You can serve this kind of wine with little vegetable tarts or a generous salad to let the freshness and vivacity of the wine come through. You’ll be able to make a lovely transition to more complex pairings just afterwards.

Red or white?

Let’s take a moment to rediscover the regional crus that are the pride and joy of Alsace. The diversity of its varietals and its terroirs promises as many different kinds of expression as there are cuvées, bringing the possibility for truly rare, even unique, dish pairings. Here is a run-through, grape by grape:

With its minerality, delicacy, and a certain amount of oomph, Riesling cuvées linger on floral and citrus notes with a certain salinity. This kind of profile leas naturally to pairings with seafood dishes. Lobster, scallops and salmon all respond well to this call.

Extremely rich, exuberant even, Gewurztraminer expresses its strength through well-defined appearance and explosive bouquet. Notes of rose, exotic fruit, lychee, citrus and gentle spices evolve wonderfully over time, inviting such interesting plates to the table as a regional sauerkraut, Chinese or Indian dishes.

Less intense but no less complex, Pinot Gris makes itself known with smoky, fruity and honeyed notes. Fans of foie gras might want to mix up their usual dessert wine pairing by trying a well-evolved Pinot Gris. Others might want to bring the opulence and tautness of this wine in line with a Thai dish cooked in coconut milk, fleshy fish or roasted poultry.

Muscat is another aromatic varietal, even more so than the other perhaps. Its aroma and taste of grape, its dry character and its sweetness will be at their best when served with dishes that other crus would struggle with. Asparagus risotto, herring fillets, roasted garlic and potato gratin have finally found a friend in Alsace’s Muscat.

Since Alsace’s Pinot Noir has nothing to envy of its Burgundian cousin, fans of flavourful and fruity reds will want to pair this wine with delicate meat like poultry and small game, root vegetables and other autumnal dishes. Mushrooms and butternut squash are other ideas you might want to explore!

Bring out the cheese board

Putting sweet and salty together is a classic combination and always tempting! Why not try some more audacious pairings? Blue cheese or nutty goats’ cheese with a vendanges tardives wine is really good! Our favourite? A regional alliance of course: a gewurztraminer vendanges tardives paired with cumin-seasoned munster.

Something sweet to round it all off

Since a dessert will often have the corpulence and sweetness of a wine, you should indeed pair it with a sweet cuvée that complements it. With a sélection de grains nobles wine, consider a dessert with yellow, candied or exotic fruits that will respond well to what’s in your glass.

As you can see, the richness of Alsace’s varietals and the complexity of its terroirs produce white wines that make for wonderful, gastronomic pairings. A final tip? Push things a little further with the works of wine makers like Jean-Michel Deiss who practice complantation for quite striking results!


Oregon Wine Story

Oregon Wine HistoryEditors Note: The history of the Oregon wine industry is made available to the Oregon Wine Board for use on its website with the permission of its author, Katherine Cole, wine columnist, The Oregonian, and may not be reused for any other purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Oregonians were growing and fermenting grapes before we achieved statehood. But our current reputation as one of the world’s top producers of high-quality wine has been built over only the past five decades:

The Early Years1933: John Wood and Ron Honeyman of Salem were among a group of early Oregon entrepreneurs who received bonded winery status shortly after the repeal of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which established Prohibition in 1920. Honeywood Winery is Oregon’s oldest continuously operating winery and holds bonded winery number 26. Hillcrest Vineyard later ushered in the modern era of Oregon winemaking, planting the first viniferous grapes near Roseburg as Oregon’s first estate winery. Hillcrest, which holds bonded winery certificate number 42, is Oregon’s oldest estate winery.

1961: After a long dry spell following Prohibition, Richard Sommer launches Oregon’s modern era of winegrowing when he plants Riesling, gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir and Zinfandel at his HillCrest Vineyard in the Umpqua Valley.Oregon’s oldest estate winery.

1964: Food writer and Portland native James Beard places Oregon on the culinary map with the publication of his memoir, Delights & Prejudices: A Memoir with Recipes.

1965: The Pinot noir era dates from February 1965. David Lett first rooted Pinot Noir cuttings near Corvallis, while researching a permanent vineyard site , the first plantings in the Willamette Valley. Charles and Shirley Coury, fresh from UC Davis and a year in Alsace, arrived in March and planted his first vines in the nursery established by Lett and then returned to California, leaving the vines in the care of Lett. The Courys returned later in the year and eventually purchased a Forest Grove property that had operated a vineyard and winery from the mid-1800s through Prohibition and began to replant it with Pinot noir and Riesling. (The property is now known by its historic name, David Hill.)

1966: Lett and his wife, Diana, spend their honeymoon planting young vines at The Eyrie Vineyards in the Dundee Hills, now the epicenter of the Oregon wine industry. He was convinced the Burgundian varieties could be grown better in Oregon than in California. (Two years later, they will acquire some cheap labor in the form of an energetic 10-year-old named Joel Myers, who will go on to become one of the Willamette Valley’s leading vineyard managers.

1967: Richard Sommer harvests his “first crop of any consequence,” resulting in 6,000 gallons of juice. Sommer decides to quit his day job as an appraiser to make wine full-time and bottles Oregon’s first ever vintage of Pinot noir.

1968: Another Davis grad, Dick Erath, arrives in the Willamette Valley and prints up business cards in anticipation of planting his first wine grapes in 1969.

1969: Dick and Nancy Ponzi arrive in Oregon and begin planting their first 20-acre vineyard. (Later, Nancy will cofound ¡Salud! and other organizations, and the couple will launch BridgePort Brewery Company and the Dundee Bistro). The same year, Jim and Loie Maresh begin planting grapevines on their now-famous Maresh Vineyard.

1970: Susan Sokol Blosser and Bill Blosser buy an abandoned prune orchard in Dundee, two weeks before their first child is born, and begin clearing the land so they can plant grapevines.

1971: David Adelsheim and Ginny Adelsheim purchase their original property at Quarter Mile Lane in Newberg and prepare to plant Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pinot gris and Riesling. Cal and Julia Lee Knudsen purchase 200 acres in the Dundee Hills and commence clearing to plant Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. The same year, an innovative and formal Italian restaurant, Genoa, opens in Portland and Philippe and Bonnie Girardet begin planting their Umpqua Valley estate.

1972: The Wisnovsky family decides to revive pioneer Peter Britt’s 1850s-era winery and vineyard, Valley View, in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. Sons Mark and Michael are conscripted as vineyard crew. The same year, Dick Troon plants his vineyard nearby, on the Applegate Valley’s Kubli Bench.

1973: With the establishment of the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, a group led by David Adelsheim and David Lett creates maps designating the prime vineyard zones of the northern Willamette Valley, then lobbies to protect this land. Until now, farmers have fought land developers (as Jim and Loie Maresh did in the mid-1960s) on a case-by-case basis.

1974: David Adelsheim travels to Burgundy to work harvest and realizes that the clones (or specific strains of grapevines) there perform better in the cool Burgundian climate than the “Davis” clones from California perform here in Oregon. It will take him a decade, but with the help of David Heatherbell, Professor of Enology at Oregon State University, Adelsheim is able to import “Dijon clones” from Burgundy beginning in 1984.

1975: The Eyrie Vineyards makes a Pinot noir that will become the “South Block Reserve.” Four years later, this wine will trump the French competition at a now-famous Paris wine tasting sponsored by the Gault & Millau restaurant guide. The same year, Cal Knudsen and Dick Erath form Knudsen-Erath Winery and operate Bonded Winery No. 52, the first commercial winery in the Dundee Hills.

1976: Myron Redford builds his winery at Amity Vineyards and makes his first wine, a “Pinot noir Nouveau.”

1977: The Campbell family ferments the first vintage of grapes from their Elk Cove Vineyards, planted three years prior, in Gaston and the Casteel family begins to plant Bethel Heights Vineyard in Salem. Meanwhile, in McMinnville, Nick’s Italian Café opens.

1978: In Grants Pass, Ted and Mary Warrick plant grapevines on their property overlooking the Applegate River, establishing Wooldridge Creek Vineyard.

1979: The Enological Society (now the Seattle Wine Society) meets to taste through Oregon, Washington and Idaho wines. Someone has the idea of printing the menu in French, as if that will make the potato salad and deviled eggs sound more sophisticated.The 1980s1980: David Adelsheim, Dick Erath and David Lett petition the state department of agriculture to establish a wine commission.

1981: After a year of driving a tractor around the decade-old Knudsen Vineyard, Allen Holstein realizes he can’t go back to his PhD program at OSU. Three decades later, Holstein is still farming Knudsen Vineyard, as vineyard manager at Argyle.

1982: Alarmed by the rapidly declining quality of the fruit at his decade-old Henry Estate Vineyard, Umpqua Valley vintner H. Scott Henry designs a unique four-pronged trellising system that exposes the grape bunches to maximum sunlight. The “Scott Henry Trellis System” is soon adopted by vineyards all over the world.

1983: Nine vintners get together, form the Yamhill County Wineries Association, and decide to throw open their winery doors for the first “Thanksgiving Weekend in Wine Country.”

1984: Relentlessly wet, cold, muddy and late, this is, by all accounts, the worst harvest season in Oregon wine history. On a more positive note, Cameron Winery is established this year and the Oregon Wine Advisory Board, now Oregon Wine Board, begins funding enology research through Oregon State University.

1985: At a tasting at the International Wine Center in New York, a group of oeno-experts cannot distinguish Oregon Pinot noirs from Burgundies costing more than twice as much. They choose Oregon wines as their top three favorites.

1986: A winemaker named Ken Wright starts up a boutique winery in McMinnville that specializes in vineyard-designate bottlings. He calls it Panther Creek Cellars. Later, Wright will sell Panther Creek to found Ken Wright Cellars and Tyrus Evan> in Carlton.

1987: The first International Pinot Noir Celebration takes place in McMinnville, gathering Pinot noir producers and lovers from all over the world. Image provided by Oregon Wine History Archive.

1988: Burgundy-born and -educated Véronique Drouhin makes her first vintage of Willamette Valley wine for the newly minted Domaine Drouhin Oregon label. The investment by Véronique’s family company, Maison Joseph Drouhin, in Dayton vineyard land and a world-class new winery, places an international spotlight on Oregon. Meanwhile, an Oregon wine cellar is installed in the governor’s mansion.

1989: The state’s only shareholder-owned and publicly traded winery, Willamette Valley Vineyards, opens in Turner.1990s – Today1990: The dreaded vine-root louse, phylloxera, appears in the Willamette Valley, forcing vineyard owners to rip out vines and replant on grafted phylloxera-resistant rootstock. The process is expensive, labor-intensive and heartbreaking.

1991: Eighteen Oregon wineries join forces to plan a charity auction modeled on the Hospices de Beaune, the annual barrel sale in Burgundy that is said to be the oldest charity auction in the world. ¡Salud! raises funds to provide free, in-the-vineyard healthcare to migrant laborers, the only program in the nation of this kind. The same year, a 50-seat restaurant called Tina’s opens in a little red cottage in Dundee.

1992: Construction of King Estate winery is underway. A decade later, in 2002, the vast property will achieve organic certification. Only in Oregon would the state’s largest winery farm all of its vineyards organically.

1993: Renovations of the former Multnomah County Poor Farm are complete and McMenamins Edgefield opens its 100 guest rooms to overnight guests. Visitors to the sprawling Troutdale resort can watch winemaking, brewing and–soon–distillation happening on site while enjoying house-made wines, beers and spirits.

1994: Harry Peterson-Nedry, Judy Nedry and Bill and Cathy Stoller open Chehalem winery in Newberg. In a then-unusual move, the partners bring in a consulting winemaker from Burgundy, Patrice Rion, to assist with the startup. Their original fruit source is Ridgecrest Vineyard, planted by Peterson-Nedry in 1982.

1995: Earl and Hilda Jones plant the first Tempranillo vines in the Pacific Northwest at Abacela winery in Roseburg. Their Iberian varietals go on to win international acclaim.

1996: Sokol Blosser is the first winery to achieve the Salmon-Safe sustainable farming designation.


1997
: Ted Casteel of Bethel Heights leads a group of vineyards to form LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), a wine-grape specific eco-designation.

1998: As “celebrity chefs” begin to spend more time in front of the camera than the stove, Oregonians begin to take a keen interest in their own top toques. At events like the IPNC, chefs like Philippe Boulot and Pascal Sauton enjoy top billing.

1999: Bill Holloran more or less launches the “garagiste” movement in Oregon when he converts his West Linn horse barn into a winery, blurring the lines between suburban and rural he hires Jay Somers (today of J. Christopher) as winemaker. The same year, another suburban winery–Cooper Mountain Vineyards in Beaverton–is the first in the state to achieve Demeter-Certified Biodynamic status.

2001: Portland Wine Storage opens in Portland’s Central Eastside, introducing Oregonians to a new concept: temperature-controlled, secure storage for their ever-growing wine collections.

2002: The winemaking business reinvents itself, twice. When the eco-built Carlton Winemakers Studio debuts, it’s the first multiple-winery facility in the state. And the arrival of A to Z Wineworks takes the negociant model–purchasing finished wine in bulk and creating value-oriented blends–all the way to the bank, quickly growing to be Oregon’s largest winery.

2003: Another new business model: Laurent Montalieu and his partners take the “custom crush” business from vineyard to bottle with the new NW Wine Company in McMinnville, which will source, farm, crush and vinify fruit for you, then bottle and label it, too.

2004: The release of the film “Sideways” sparks Pinot mania. Also: The Willamette Valley begins to subdivide. By 2006, the large AVA has six additional sub-appellations: Chehalem Mountains, Eola-Amity Hills, Dundee Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton.

2005: The Portland Indie Wine and Food Festival arrives, offering a showcase for the best of Oregon’s many pint-sized wineries.

2006: The Wine and Spirit Archive opens its doors, offering WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) accreditation and joining the International Sommelier Guild in establishing Portland as a center of wine education on the west coast.

2007: Celebrity chefs are so yesterday. A series of “Dueling Sommelier” dinners held in Portland this year calls attention to the rising prominence of sommes. Also: Riedel rolls out its first region-specific design ever: the “Oregon Pinot Noir Glass.” Local tasting rooms begin to sell the glass version, stamped with their winery logos, for $15 the crystal version sells for $30 per stem.

2009: The Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine (OCSW) certification debuts, simplifying the state’s many eco-certification options by offering a single umbrella designation. Fourteen wineries–representing approximately 20 percent of Oregon wine production–join forces with the Oregon Environmental Council to kick off the Carbon Neutral Challenge, the first wine-industry carbon-reduction program in the United States. Solar panels begin to pop up all over wine country. And Willamette Valley Vineyards cofounds what is said to be the world’s first cork recycling program, entitled Cork ReHarvest. Also, The Allison Inn and Spa opens in Newberg, nudging the Willamette Valley a centimeter closer to the impossibly high bar of “Napa Valley luxury.” Also, the British wine magazine Decanter names Southern Oregon University geologist Greg Jones, an international expert in vineyard climatology, to its “Power List” of the 50 most influential people in the world of wine.

2010: Who said wine had to come in a bottle? Oregon restaurants start serving wines by the glass that are fresher than ever thanks to packaging in boxes and kegs. The new wines on tap are lighter on the wallet and the environment, as well. Also, wineries like Boedecker Cellars, Chehalem and Troon roll out refillable bottle programs for regular customers.

2011: Oregon is now home to more than 400 wineries and a $2.7 billion industry, bringing tourist dollars and jobs to the region. Wineries remain focused on quality, with the average winery’s production at a mere 5,000 cases annually–tiny by national standards. In Portland, a new group, PDX Urban Wineries, forms it’s an indicator of the fast growth of the boutique urban winemaking trend. And in McMinnville, Linfield College publishes the Oregon Wine History Project, a collection of interviews, documents, exhibits and photographs archived online for the public to browse and for scholars and reporters to refer to.

2012: The new year kicked off with the USGA’s annual vineyard survey, reavling that the 2011 harvest was the largest in Oregon history at 41,500 tons. In January, Gov. John Kitzhaber proclaimed May Oregon Wine Month, reviving a tradition that had been dormant for more than two decades. In February, the Oregon Wine Industry Symposium was held in Portland for the first time and attracted a record attendance of 1,300 industry registrants. OWB hosted the state’s largest tasting of Oregon wine under one roof in April to kick off Oregon Wine Month. In May, the first-in-the-nation Oregon Wine Country license plate was made available by the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. More than 800 consumers and 91 wineries attended. In August, Oregon hosted the fifth Wine Bloggers Conference, attracting bloggers from all over the world. In November, Wine Spectator devoted its cover to Oregon, proclaiming Oregon the home of American Pinot noir and marking Oregon’s first cover story.


Watch the video: Rosheim (November 2022).