2022 Patricia Green Cellars Russ Rainey Cuvée, Hope Well Vineyard Pinot Noir

I hope folks don’t see this as gratuitous. I posted this on Instagram but was limited to 2,200 characters and wanted to get the whole thing up somewhere. So here it is.

July 9, 2024 (today) marks the 2-year anniversary of the passing of Russ Rainey.

As promised, we made a barrel of wine literally dedicated to his memory from our only source of Eola-Amity AVA Pinot Noir in 2022. We stated at the time that we would bottle this and donate 100% of the proceeds to the Association for FrontoTemporal Degeneration (AFTD), per the request of his wife, Mary Raney.

Today is that day.

As anyone reading this assuredly knows, Russ was a brilliant winemaker and he, along with a host of other winemakers, ushered in a second wave era in the 1980s that had the transformative effect on the Oregon wine industry that we still experience to this day. Russ and Mary created a benchmark winery that produced not only some of the valley’s most memorable bottlings, specifically represented by their Cuvée J Pinot Noir, but also some of the state’s most reasonably priced excellent wines. I know that for myself and Patty, toiling away at Torii Mor back in the 90s, the Evesham Wood Pinots were a source of inspiration and a level to strive toward both in our production and as the type of winery we wanted to be.

More importantly though, Russ Rainey was a good person. There are few people that have his level of importance in the industry as a producer and as a representative of the Oregon wine industry that have a deservedly universal approval rating from their peers and colleagues. Other than Veronique Drouhin I cannot think of a single other person in my 30+ years here that could claim that. Not that he would. He most certainly would not have. Even after Russ and Mary had sold Evesham Wood to Eric Nuccio and had plans and adventures that took them across the world, Russ continued to work and even lead the most Willamette Valley of all Willamette Valley organizations, the Deep Roots Coalition (drc). He was a person of terrific humor and great integrity and his far-too-early passing at the hands of horrific disease for which there is no cure was and remains a tragic loss.

In 2022 we had a sale on our Tempranillo Rosé (we make this wine literally because Russ made a brilliant version of it back in the day and therefore I knew it could be done) and raised over $3,700 for the Dementia Society of America. As karma would have it a long-time cooperage rep, Ryan Renders, dropped by the winery on one of the days we were doing this. Despite having moved to a new cooperage, Tonnellerie O, from which we had never purchased a barrel he offered up a free barrel to do something that further paid homage to Russ. Having picked up fruit from the vineyard that once was Mimi Casteel’s Hope Well Vineyard earlier that spring it seemed that we had the ability to do something that would keep Russ in peoples’ minds and hearts for a longer period of time while providing a meaningful donation to an organization that Mary feels like does good work for people with AFTD.

So, the wine is labeled as 2022 Hope Well Vineyard, Russ Rainey Cuvée Pinot Noir. It is sourced entirely from a steep, south facing block of Wadensvil. The wine was made with 100% whole clusters. This was managed very, very lightly with a combination of pumpovers and pigeages. During it’s 18 day fermentation half of the days no intervention at all was conducted in an attempt to balance fruit with what were sure to be relatively thick tannins borne from the AVA, the site, the whole cluster make-up and the barrel. I think we have managed to do that. As I stated at the time, this is not an attempt to make a Russ Rainey Evesham Wood style wine. I told Mary that this wine was still structured and awkward at present which it is. However, I think it is very good and has the characteristics of Wadensvil fruit that we covet here at Patricia Green Cellars while displaying the positive side of the dusty tannins that the Eola Hills can create. The new Tonnellerie O barrel influence is noticeable but not overt even while being the sole vessel of this wine.

If there has been anything I have struggled with in any aspect of this project it has been how to price this wine. There is the desire to obviously do as much possible with this one opportunity to make some sort of good out of a life ended too short. On the other hand, there is the nature of everything that this winery seemed to stand for under the care of Russ and Mary. I also think that the people that are going to purchase the 24 cases of this wine that exist are largely going to be people in the Oregon wine industry or somehow adjacent that knew and cared about Russ. My inclination is to trust the audience.

Therefore, we are not pricing this wine. It’s up to you. We are giving all the money we receive for this bottling away so it doesn’t matter to Patricia Green Cellars and we are not benefitting in any financial way from this. This isn’t, of course, the be all and end all of any relationship you had with Russ Rainey or emotions you might have about this entire situation. In the end, this is a communal endeavor from beginning to the release and sale of this wine. Russ came up in a simpler and less crowded time in our state’s wine business and, to me, the tightness of the community back then was one of the defining features of how we got from where we were to where we were going. I am willing to lean into that sense of community and trust. I hope people think about Russ and anything he may have done, even without him knowing, to touch your life and help do whatever it is you do better or easier or more fun or more meaningful. Based on that buy the wine. I trust that whatever it is each of you feels is appropriate will be great.

AFTD is a 501C-3 non-profit (you can check them out at theaftd.org) and we will issue proper documentation for all wines purchased.

If you have questions about the wine or the project please feel to contact me directly atjim@patriciagreencellars.com.

To purchase the wine please contact katherine@patriciagreencellars.com. She will handle all of the purchase details and set up either shipping (this will have to wait for obvious reasons) or pick up.