From the moment you drive through the dramatic archway to ascend the vineyard covered hillside at Willamette Valley Vineyards you have an inkling that you are in for a treat.
A welcoming hospitality center stands ready to offer wine tasting, dining, or lingering while admiring vineyard views from inside and on the outdoor terraces. Materials such as reclaimed wood and concrete floors make it comfortable environment.
It was the vision of founder Jim Bernau to find the ideal vineyard location to plant Pinot Noir grapes in 1983. After scouring the Willamette Valley, it was his ability to imagine the 53 acres of plum orchards and blackberry brambles transformed into estate vineyards that made this possible. When deciding to purchase the land it was a comment about the low yield and small size of fruit near the top of the property that was the deciding factor. Knowing that the best wine often comes from low yields with concentrated flavors.
Stewardship runs deep. Wine is produced sustainably in accordance with Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE) standards and Salmon Safe practices. They utilize FSC certified cork, recycle bottles and cork, make use of solar energy, and offer Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, to name a few. Even their Winery Suites are LEED Gold Certified offering cozy luxurious overnight accommodations, a rarity in Oregon wine country.
Their strategic acquisitions of other vineyards allow them to produce not only Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris but also Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Blanc. It is this same vision that inspired them to purchase vineyards in the Walla Walla AVA to take advantage of the warm weather varietals that don’t do well in Oregon’s Burgundian climate. Their unique approach to the winery business has provided the opportunity for 5,000 winery enthusiasts to become shareholders in the winery and the expansion plans.
Being a good steward of the land and crafting a sustainably produced wine has proven to be not only good for the environment but for business.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Wine Picks
2014 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir ($22). This is a fruit-forward wine perfect for drinking now. It utilizes partial carbonic maceration and is aged in stainless steel, 32,000 cases produced.
2012 Bernau Block Pinot Noir ($55). Grapes are sourced from the original 15 acre plantings. 2012 was a warm vintage exhibiting luscious red and dark fruit characteristics, 1,922 cases produced.
About: Willamette Valley Vineyards offers remarkable hospitality from their Estate Tasting Room in the Willamette Valley. You can enjoy a flight, glass, or a meal in their hospitality center open daily from 11 am to 6 pm. The winery chef has an ever changing menu to highlight seasonal ingredients that pair with the wine. They are located at 8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner, Oregon. Additional information is available on their website or at 503-588-9463.
BY: KARLA EROVICK, WINE & TRAVEL WRITER
Karla Erovick is a wine and travel writer living in Oregon. She enjoys traveling to global and local wine regions. Her over 500 articles have appeared in JetsetExtra.com, Examiner.com, Tangodiva.com, Napa Valley Life Magazine, and Wild Blue Yonder Flight Magazine. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @IntnlGal.