Oregon Trip- A Review

We had a blast on our first trip to Willamette Valley and I want to thank all those who reached out and provided input on the trip in a prior thread I posted. The depth of knowledge and insight from the Berserker community was tremendous and you guys made our first trip very special. Here is a rundown of our trip with what limited notes I was able to take. I will try and post day 2 tomorrow, day 3 Wednesday and day 4-5 Thursday but forgive me if I fall behind. Thanks again for all the help and hope this helps those of you planning your next trip!

Day 1

We arrived late morning and decided to grab a bite before the tastings started. We stopped in at Red Hills Market for a quick sandwich and it was delicious. The fried chicken sandwich and open face ham w/ gruyere was a hit.

Brick House
We started off our day with a visit to Brick House where we toured the facilities and tasted with Steven Guy. Steven was great, very knowledgeable and just a terrific host. I had never had any of the Brick House wines before but, from all the great Berserker praise, I had high expectations. The wines did not disappoint! First out of the gate was the 2014 Ribbon Ridge Chardonnay- light yellow color, very crisp with a wonderful steeliness and notes of green apples, lemon and good acidity. Light on its feet and just a wonderful start to the tasting. Next up was the 2014 Cascadia Chardonnay-this was more rounded than the Ribbon Ridge with a wonderful smokiness to it, lots of citrus, good minerality and a touch tart on the back end. Then onto the reds. First up was the 2015 Ribbon Ridge Gamay Noir-this was really beautiful with loads of cherry, red fruits and seemed very food friendly. Kept thinking about this with turkey at Thanksgiving. We then worked our way into the pinots and started with the 2014 Cuvee du Tonnelier Pinot Noir-beautiful color, dark fruited, a touch of spice but a bit candied for my tastes. Probably my least favorite wine of the tasting. After being slightly disappointed with the first pinot the next 3 were on a whole different level. The 2014 Les Dijonnais Pinot Noir-was full of beautiful cherries, strawberries, spice and nice earthy notes. This needs more time to evolve but was really delicious right now with some air. Looking forward to trying this again in 3-5 yrs. The 2015 Les Dijonnais Pinot Noir was everything the 2014 was but with what seemed like a deeper, darker core. Not quite as pretty to me but really well built. More tannic than the 15 and a touch of cola. The last wine was the 2014 Evelyn’s Pinot Noir- and this was just striking. Showing both red and dark fruits it had an incredible nose filled with spice and some floral notes. Intense wine that demands time but was the star of the show for me. A real elegant power here that has the potential to be very special. Not a bad way to kick off our first trip to Oregon!
Patricia Green Cellars

Our second stop was to Patricia Green where we tasted with Caroline who did an outstanding job. She walked us through the different sites and really tailored our tasting after getting a feel for what we liked. We started with the 2015 Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc- very floral, with loads of melon and green apple. A very nice wine and great introduction into WV Sav Blanc. Next was the 2015 Durant Vineyard Chardonnay- well rounded chard with floral notes, citrus and the oak was well done here. Coated my mouth and left quite a nice finish. From there we moved onto the reds and got things rolling with the 2015 Volcanic Pinot Noir-a blend of 3 sites and showed bright red fruits and just extremely easy to drink. As with most of the pinots here I found the oak to be noticeable but well integrated and not overdone at all. This was just a very pleasing wine that while maybe a touch simple was also simply delicious. We then went to the 2015 Marine Sedimentary Pinot Noir- full of black cherry, earth, cedar, pepper and tea. Was great to do this side by side with the Volcanic and we all preferred the more earthy tones of this wine. Just a delicious wine that is a great QPR! This is going to be a wonderful weekday wine at our house for quite some time. Next up was the 2015 Freedom Hills Vineyard Dijon 115 Clone- was peppery with lots of cherry, red fruits, earthy with a slight spice. This was also very good but fell behind a few others in the tasting to me. Then we move to the 2015 Estate Vineyard Old Vine Pinot Noir- we absolutely loved this. This bottle had been open for several hours and it was obvious. Loads of dark cherries, spices, plums, floral notes and earthiness. Full, silky tannins with a lasting finish that made a big impression. At this price I am a big believer in this wine. One of the top wines of the tasting and a favorite amongst our group. We then went to some of the higher end stuff and first up was the 2015 Notorious Pinot Noir- made using 100% new oak this was much more of a full bodied wine well integrated toasted oak, dark fruits, cola and spice. It was more Californian than the others but even though there was noticeable oak it didn’t take away from the wine at all. This was super sexy, opulent and slutty (in a good way). I can see why people love this wine, it’s an easy one to enjoy if you are in the mood for this style. Then, to finish, we ended with the 15th Anniversary Cuvee Pinot Noir- a cuvee of the best barrels from the best vineyards Patricia Green has to offer. Red cherries, cola, blackberries and a gorgeous floral component. Very long, rich, sexy and will improve greatly with a few years. I don’t think it will go forever but this should be killer in a few years. A great wine to end a fantastic tasting! While the Patricia Green wines were a touch oakier than most of the places we tasted I cannot say enough good things about their wines and the entire experience there. Sure they use oak but it so beautifully integrated and their wines are delicious right out of the gate. I found this to be a nice change of pace and really enjoyed the stop. We will definitely be back!

Native Flora
To end the day I scheduled an appointment with Scott Flora at Native Flora. I was introduced to his wines about a year ago through some friends who visited a couple years back when their driver recommended Native Flora on a whim. From the first time I tried Scott’s wines I have been amazed that there isn’t any buzz about this place. His 2010 First Time Pinot Noir remains one of the greatest wines I’ve had from Oregon and was the bottle that first introduced me to Native Flora. Scott is a really interesting guy and even by his own words has some “crazy” ideas on how to grow grapes and make wine in the valley. One of his most prized sections is a North facing slope used for his old world styled Heretic Pinot, he makes crazy blends like his PMS (Pinot, Malbec & Syrah), collects rain water for drip line irrigation if needed and to serve as the drinking water for the facility, has massive amounts of solar panels to power his winery and has no interest in making wines for scores. His main focus is to make world class wines the way he wants, to service those who visit and to take care of the those on his mailing list. He is very passionate about what he does, extremely intelligent and just a really cool guy to visit with. His entire lineup is fantastic but there is no question the pinots are the star. We had a wonderful visit with Scott as he walked us through many of his wines from several vintages. His wines are made in a very Old World style and show incredible balance, depth and focus. I highly encourage people to go see what Scott is doing and try some of his wines. We tasted at some incredible places but the Native Flora wines stood side-by-side with the very best we tasted.

We started off with our favorite Rose of the trip, the 2015 Strawberry Blonde Rose- This was simply delicious and appropriately named. Loads of creamy strawberry, crisp acidity and flavor packed but light on its feet. We then moved to Scott’s 2014 Solstice Skies Riesling- Petrol nose and reminded me of Trimbach a bit with notes of apple, pear, good acidity and a clean finish. Super fun stuff. We then moved to a trio of 2014 Pinots and the first up was his 2014 Next Time Pinot Noir- loads of cherry, red fruits, touch of pepper and vanilla. Very feminine wine for 2014 and was incredibly light on its feet. This had been open since early morning and was really showing well. I have found that Scott’s pinots need several hours to really open if they are on the younger side. An incredible start to the pinots! Next was the 2014 Heretic Pinot Noir- this is made from a steep North facing block shown on the left side of the above picture. His most Old World styled wine and reminiscent of Nuits St George with loads of floral notes, cherry, spice and maybe a hint of smoke. Light and elegant but much more acidic than his other offerings. We absolutely loved this wine and was right in my wheelhouse. The last of the trio was his 2014 Jaguar Pinot Noir- this is a selection of the best barrels from all the sites. More structured than the First Time and wonderful notes of cherries, cola, red fruits, wood, cinnamon, spices and earth. An incredibly special wine that I am going to lay down for at east 5 yrs before I revisit. His wines age so gracefully and I feel patience will be rewarded here. Next stop was the 2011 First Time Pinot Noir- I have had this wine many times and it was showing very well this day. It always needs several hours to open up and Scott popping in early in the morning had it really showing well. More of a tart red fruit profile with loads of pepper, earth and spice. Perfect acidity and elegant tannins, this is going to go a long time. Next was the wild child, his 2015 PMS Blend- made with pinot noir, malbec and syrah I really didn’t want to like this but I actually did. Weird, I must admit, but tasty. Light in color and the nose and front end showed mostly pinot but the back end was all syrah. Hard to wrap my head around but really fun to taste, even if my purist side felt ashamed. Last up was his 2015 Cuvee Lussier Sparkling- This might be the finest domestic sparkler I have tasted. Fine bubbles, dry, yeasty with notes of exotic fruits and apples. This was a real eye opener.

Glad you had a great time. I’m definitely checking out Native Flora based on your experience. Until now I was completely oblivious to this producer. We should get together for an Oregon bottle share at Pignetti’s sometime.

Out of curiosity, what was the fee, if anything, to taste all of those great wines at Brick House and Patricia Green. I’ve never been to either spot.
Again, strictly curious—I’d gladly pay for the experience and inevitably pick up some bottles whether it was $0 or $25.

I’m honestly not sure what they charge as a tasting fee Dave. I ended up buying a pretty good amount from both places so they waived the fee. You typically won’t see more than about $25 or so.

Thanks for the reviews. Yes my wife and I really enjoyed our tasting at Brick House a few years ago. Looks like we should go back. Their Cascadia Chards were top notch. We just visited our daughter at Linfield last weekend. We loved our stops at Evesham Wood, Seven of Hearts, and Gran Moraine.