The Future of Oregon Wine: It Ain’t Pinot

Stop drinking the “top” wines. Of course those wines are boring and indistinguishable. They’re made to be “great” and “top”, and that generally means less finesse, less elegance, less letting the site be the site.
They’re also made to taste good to whomever, whenever the bottle is opened…which is exactly the opposite of how unique and interesting Pinot Noir is going to be.
If you don’t like the “sheep” mentality, then stop drinking wines made for sheep.

Btw-this means you are going to have to drink some shitty wine, figuring out which wines are interesting. But you post here plenty, so I am sure this isn’t news.

Primarily because Pinot Noir is quite successfully grown in the Willamette Valley and the plethora of people making good, great, unique, homogenous, AFWE, hedonistic, boring, electric Pinot Noirs has made establishing oneself with Pinot Noir extremely hard.

These days, Oregon Pinot Noir is being grown so successfully that it’s attracting the likes of Dominque Lafon, Jacque Lardiere, Jean-Nicolas Meo, Judy Jordan, Craig Williams(Shafer), and a host of other wine luminaries to come and and learn how to make Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley.

That means a small unheralded winemaking project probably needs to either make some extremely good wines, or find another niche.

If our industry was like basketball, for a while Oregon was kind of like the Big Sky conference, then we were like the ACC, and now it’s becoming an NBA franchise. No surprise that there’s some athletes deciding that handball and Lacrosse are Oregon’s real sports, but that doesn’t mean that basketball is suddenly not our sport.

Except that you would be one of the 100 lemmin…er…producers planting Chardonnay right now.

I love Oregon Chardonnay and have done pretty well with it, but the enthusiasm is outstripping the current market. While we’re extremely fortunate to have some well connected and well known people, like Larry Stone and Dominique Lafon adding their shoulders to the Oregon Chardonnay cart…we are 3 years away from having 50% of Oregon Chardonnay produced from vines less than 8 years or less(if my math is correct).

Ahh the Willamette Week, I remember that, what a trashy rag.

What clones/selections of Chard are typically being planted in Oregon these days? Or is there such a thing as typical?

I award this thread the “First World Non-Problem” of the year award.

Trousseau Noir, Savignin, and Cabernet Franc, Zweigelt, St. Laurent, and Grüner Veltliner!!!

Those are the wines of a MW candidate, not mainstream wine buyers. I’m all for variety, but why not try some classic varieties, like Syrah and Riesling, too?

He points to the fact that Oregon had a burgeoning wine industry in the late 18th and early 19th century…

I didn’t realize Europeans had actually settled in Oregon in the late 18th century, let alone that they had established a burgeoning wine industry.

Wow. That’s about the most condescending response I could have (n)ever expected.

Let’s not forget why merlot was popular before its bubble burst. Merlot sales (particularly the mass market CA versions meant for the general public - the likes of which “Miles” threw a fit over) were driven by hype that exploited a similar fad that chard had enjoyed until the ABC movement (which also contributed to some of Merlot’s popularity in the 90’s and early 2000’s). It was inevitable that the general public would turn as this market was due for a correction.

The fact remains that merlot hasn’t gone anywhere, CA still plants merlot at a massive pace and high quality merlot is still relatively strong. The market correction that popped the merlot bubble didn’t kill merlot off altogether but it did transform it. Low quality bandwagon producers suffered and only higher quality merlot remained even if they suffered in the interim.

If the same happens to Pinot Noir, it won’t be going away for good but it might suffer for a bit while bandwagon producers may have to re-evaluate their business decisions.

On point as always. Well said.

No, Marcus is on point.

You are complete tosser, so there you have it.

Sorry David, the response to your posts was intended as a serious response and not condescending in intention.

You seem to have a chip on your shoulder towards Pinot Noir and you’re welcome to your opinions, but Oregon doesn’t have a singular set of top producers(IMO). And particularly if you follow mainstream media recommendations, you are going to get a very standardized version of PN. Not my personal favorite at all, so I am definitively biased.

If you’re looking to actually try some Pinot Noirs that are not homogenous here are some ideas:
Evesham Wood Temperance Hill
J. Christopher Dundee Hills
Walter Scott Sojourner Vineyard
Cristom Jessie Vineyard
Love and Squalor WV

Marcus I would plant Chardonnay in any state because people buy it. That is why there is PN in Oregon. They did well with it. People only buy a few grapes and that is now one of them, good or bad.

Were I independently wealthy and able to plant what I liked, it would be neither of those.

There’s a fair amount of diversity in the clonal selections being planted. John Paul has been making some incredible Chardonnay for years from the Clos Electrique vineyard, a multi-clonal planting, and Craig Williams planted 10 different clones at Ex Novo. It feels like there is a move towards this type of planting right now.

Remember Bob Wood’s comment on a Willamette Valley Vinyards PN tasting at Safeway or some such vender. He tried his best to be gracious. [snort.gif]

Greg, you’re a knowledgeable poster and what you say is right in theory. But timing is everything, and in the past few years I have seen a grower have to require the wineries wanting to buy Melon de Bourgogne from him to buy Pinot Noir as well(and this is a good site). Over the past few years I have picked up extra Pinot Noir fruit to support farmers that matter to me far more than I have been shorted on fruit. Fortunately, enthusiasm for Oregon Pinot Noir is on the rise and sales have been able to support our growth, but Pinot Noir being a great grape in the Willamette Valley is pretty well established. Oregon Chardonnay is just getting going, and people should buy it because the wines are remarkable-which is the only reason to plant it in the Valley. That said, this isn’t an industry that handles rapid growth well, and doubling our planted acreage is going to create problems over the next decade.


I drink widely (though I do not post on everything, as I don’t like bashing wineries on line too much) and am not a current subscriber to any mainstream publications, so that’s part of the reason I took offense.

I do not have a chip on my shoulder at all. I desperately want to find new world Pinot Noir that excites me. I just rarely find it. One Oregon producer that has caught my attention lately is Division. A newer California Pinot that has really resonated for me is the one from Enfield.

I bought some Paetra Riesling that is terrific. Vincent Chard and Gamay, Bow and Arrow Melon, Sauv Blanc, Gamay and Rhinestones (PN/Gamay) are going to be regular buys in addition to the usual suspects PNs that hang around here. [wink.gif]

[rofl.gif] That article is hilarious. Oh wait, it was serious. Okay, that article is ignorant. Maybe they should have someone who knows something about wine before they post write ups.