One of the things we love doing here at Texas Wine Lover is visiting wineries. There are a lot of wineries in the world, and we cannot always visit that region in the world to visit those wineries in person, but when you can bring the wines, owners, and winemakers to you virtually, that is the next best thing!
I attended a media virtual tasting with six wineries from the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s leading wine region. Most people know Oregon for making fabulous Pinot Noir, but as we learned during the tasting, they make much more.
The Willamette Valley AVA started to divide into different sub-regions in 2002 and more division continued throughout the years. The most recent three sub-regions are Tualatin Hills AVA, Laurelwood District AVA, and Lower Long Tom AVA. These regions were introduced to us with two wineries from each AVA. Since we had wines from each winery (count them), I didn’t want to waste any, so it was time to finally buy a Coravin. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime and I had it the next day 15 minutes before the tasting began.
The virtual tasting was moderated by Emily Petterson and Julia Burke from Willamette Valley Wineries Association. The first wines we tasted were from the Laurelwood District AVA. This sub-AVA was created in June 2020 and is in the northeast of Willamette Valley. The name refers to the prevalent soil type that defines the wines from the area. These were the wineries and wines tasted:
- Ponzi Vineyards presented by Luisa Ponzi, winemaker
- 2017 Ponzi Chardonnay Reserve
- 2017 Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve
- Raptor Ridge Winery presented by Scott Shull, owner/winemaker
- 2021 Raptor Ridge Tuscowallame Estate Grüner Veltliner
- 2019 Raptor Ridge Tuscowallame Estate Pinot Noir
The Raptor Ridge 2019 Pinot Noir was one of the first to have the Laurelwood District on the label. There were some Pinot Noirs in this group, but you can see the Chardonnay and Grüner Veltliner also stood out. Next up was the Tualatin Hills AVA which was also established in June 2020, and is the northernmost AVA in the Willamette Valley. These were the wineries represented:
- Apolloni Vineyards presented by Alfredo Apolloni, owner/winemaker
- 2021 Apolloni Estate Chardonnay
- 2019 Apolloni Estate Pinot Noir
- Elk Cove Vineyards presented by Adam Campbell, owner/winemaker, and Anna Campbell, creative director
- 2021 Elk Cove Pinot Gris
- 2020 Elk Cove Estate Pinot Noir
Other grapes grown in this area are Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. The last new appellation was Lower Long Tom which is the newest sub-AVA granted approval on November 10, 2021. Lower Long Tom became the 22nd federally recognized winegrowing region in Oregon and the tenth nested AVA within the Willamette Valley. These were the wineries and wines we tasted:
- Brigadoon Winery presented by Matt Shown, winemaker
- 2021 Brigadoon Pinot Blanc
- 2019 Brigadoon Lylee Pinot Noir
- Benton-Lane Winery presented by Vince Vidrine, winemaker
- 2018 Benton-Lane First Class Pinot Noir
- 2019 Estate Pinot Noir
It was interesting learning about the three new sub-AVAs, but we also learned that if the sub-AVA is listed on the label, they also want to list the major AVA of Willamette Valley. This helps consumers associate the sub-AVAs with those who know Willamette Valley AVA as a major wine producer.
As I mentioned at the beginning, we love to visit wineries, and I know the first time I get a chance to visit Oregon, I will be heading to the Willamette Valley!