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Oregon Wine Investment Maintains Growth & Profit

Decanting with Delkin

By Fred Delkin

We’re old enough to remember when wine production was more dream than reality on the Oregon agricultural scene. No more! The state’s wine industry has more than doubled its economic impact since 2005, boasts more than 450 wineries and is attracting major vineyard creation by outside financial interests…quite a contrast to the vino situation here when we formed the Oregon Wine Board’s initial marketing effort with a small cadre of pioneers some 40 years ago. Now Oregon ranks third in both wine volume and dollar value among our fifty states and vineyards are sited virtually the width and length of our fair state. And just to think that the University of California Davis faculty advised graduate David Lett that Oregon was not a prime place to plant premium grape varietals! The man now titled “Papa Pinot” ignored that counsel, planted a site near McMinnville, and created the Eyrie label which startled the global wine world when it earned top honors in a tasting conducted by the French Burgundy export house of Joseph Drouhin. This triumph was certified when Drouhin purchased and developed a Dundee hills site for Pinot Noir production.

Today, the pioneering Blosser family is supervising construction of a new tasting facility on their Dundee property, with an eco-friendly design by Portland architectural firm Allied Works, helmed by Brad Cloepfil. The Sokol Blosser label is now guided by Bill & Susan’s Blosser offspring, Allison and Alex. This is yet another facility-funding leap forward in an Oregon wine industry that is developing as an international tourism destination. That cachet was earned by the opening of the Allison Inn & Spa near Newberg, a luxury resort opened a year ago with amenities to suit the most discerning traveler. The Allison’s Jory wining & dining facility boasting wine and food offerings that the aforementioned pioneers can take a bow for inspiring.

A potpourri of pours

Another reminder of Oregon’s growing stature as a vinous paradise was a wine tasting and gourmet food feast staged recently at Portland’s Paley’s Place restaurant by California’s Newton Vineyards, now owned by the French champagne house Moet Hennessy. The unfiltered California bottlings were superb matches for a multi-course victuals array created by Vitaly Paley, maestro of local food resources. We noted that the Napa winery does not produce Oregon’s signature varietal Pinot Noir, but offers truly world-class Chardonnay, Merlot and a wonderful Bordeaux blend from grapes grown on a Spring Mountain site abutting Napa’s St. Helena. Foie Gras, Oysters, Veal, Lamb, wild Mushrooms, Truffles, wild Huckleberries and more offered proof that food and wine can, indeed, be a match made in heaven. Newton, founded by an Englishman in 1977 and now owned by a French firm, is a proper sponsor of an event worthy of any nationality’s applause.

Oregonians can now enjoy another British-inspired beverage with the OLCC’s stocking of Miller’s Gin. This rendition of what Brits in the past dubbed “Mothers’ Ruin”, is a very smooth concoction created by English entrepreneur Martin Miller, whose publicist describes as “a gypsy who never settled and a devotee of leggy women, cigarettes and gin, with his own distilling of the latter born of love, obsession and some degree of madness.” Reasons enough, we presume, to imbibe this premium-priced elixir.

This scribe’s palate has never before considered Greek wines as a worthwhile vinous offering, though its ancestry harks back well before Plato’s time. We ascribe this attitude to the common Greek reference to wines as “retsina”…a term earned many centuries ago by the method of sealing filled wine amphorae containers for shipping with resin that inoculated the liquid with a foreign flavor. Now, with an international market beckoning, the Greek wine producers are concentrating upon bottlings sans any resin flavoring. Portland distributor Cavatappi is introducing a line of this lineage labeled “Sonata”and we find it well worth sipping (with or without your next dish of Calamari or Dolmas).

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