Willamette Valley, Oregon Trip Report (Short and Boring)

My wife and I went on our first adventure to Oregon wine country a few weeks ago and had an amazing time. The scenery, food, wine and hospitality were just top notch all the way around. We arrived late Thursday night on Southwest Airlines from San Jose, Ca with 2 wine checks in hand. My goal was carry everything I bought home, but failed miserably and shipped more than few cases home. Wine checks are a great invention and so far I have done 4 trips with ours since Berserker day with 0 issues. Picked up the rental car and spent the night at a motel near the Portland Airport. Got up in the morning and hit the local New Seasons market for breakfast and snacks for weekend. Of course, while I was there had to check out the local wine selection and they certainly had that well covered. They had a full selection of Cameron and many other local favorites. Luckily, their wine buyer was there and I picked up a few bottles he recommended after our chat.

2016 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Villages Cuvée - $25

2016 Purple Hands Pinot Noir Lone Oak Ranch - $26

We haven’t had a chance to try either of these but he claimed these much like the Cameron WV Pinot’s don’t last long and sell out soon. Only time will tell. After getting some Tamales in the parking lot we were off to Cristom Vineyards for our first tasting of the day.

Cristom Vineyards

The Winery and Tasting Room

My wife Kitty and the tasting menu of the Day

I had called Cristom ahead of time and they had a few tasting options including a normal tasting, a private seated tasting and winery tour and picnic lunch. Since we had to private tasting booked later in the day we choose the most basic $15 tasting option and were not disapointed. We sat around a table and chatted with some ladies from San Diego who were also visiting. The two folks at the tasting room were super friendly and helpful. Clearly wine geeks themselves and they knew their wines and all the technical details of the wine making process. We felt at home and since it was early and not crowded we were not rushed and they really were comfortable getting into some of the finer details.

2016 Estate Pinot Gris - Good acidity and balance. I’m just not a big fan of Pinot Gris. Hard to pick on the wine but I can’t ever remember being excited about Pinot Gris.

2017 Estate Pinot Noir Rose - Nose of Pomm and sea shells. Hits the palate with good tart pomm and strawberry followed by great acidity and minerality. Fully dry, The kind of rose I really enjoy.

2015 Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir - Something like a cuvee from 13 vineyards. 3/4 Estate Fruit. 50% stems as is the normal for all the Cristom Pinots. Fruit, pepper, earth. This one is spicy and a bold on the bolder side without being over extracted. Long spicy finish. This wine will benefit from 5-10 years of bottle age, IMO. Fantastic QPR if you can find any, good luck on that. This is the wine that first introduced me to Cristom and it didn’t dissapoint.

2014 Estate Pinot Noir - This is a blend of the 4 estate vineyards. Bright ripe cherry on the nose and palate. Softer and Rounder than the Mt. Jeff. A more elegant and delicate style and drinking well now. Stems and tannins are less pronounced

2015 Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir - Yum!, More acidic and tannic than the estate pinot noir. Not as much tannin as the Mt Jeff but more acidic for sure. In between the two in Style. My favorite. For a ripe year the acid and the stems really came though to balance the fruit.
Chilling and chatting with some new frends

I think we tasted one other of the estate vineyard pinots and it was similar and different as expected. Overall, I enjoyed the tasting and the experience. Although each of the pinots receives the same oak program and stem content (50% they claim), the vintage and the terroir shined through. All had unique characteristics that spoke to us. They were offering a great horizontal of 2013’s splits. 1 375ml of each of the 4 estate vineyards for $99. Sold! Snacked on some lunch while we were there, picked up more than few bottles and then headed off to our next appointment at Walter Scott. I will chronicle each of our visits in a seperate post and it may take me a few weeks to get them all posted but in true Berseker style will give them all the love they deserve. Great first stop!

Great first Oregon recap. Reminds me I need to get around to visiting Cristom on one of my future trips.

Heater Allen Brewery

Not to get too far ahead of myself but I managed to make a trip to Heater Allen Brewery before dinner while my wife was getting some beauty rest. The place was hopping and they were chefs outside making some great looking food. Got to meet Rick Allen and the rest of the crew. Can’t believe I lost my snap of Rick. The variety in the lagers was impressive but all were hitting the spot. I didn’t get around to tasting the Goodfellow Chardonnay on tap, but how could you go wrong there. Rick busted out something extra special. A Christmas ale from 2016. Wow!, Huge floral bouquet, Amazing before I even tasted it. Was not a fruit bomb like it smelled. Great complexity and finish. Amazing texture. Honestly best beer I have had in a while. Thankfully Rick was willing to part with a few and they made it back to California along with some schrwarz and pils (which seemed to be the house favorite). I think Rick mentioned there was a connection with you one of the fellas.

Sean, Heater Allen is always a must visit when in the WV. Great beers and people and nice change of pace from wine tastings. Glad you were able to visit.

As for connection, as you can see in my avatar, my beloved deceased dog, Peloton, was on the label of the 2014 Sandy Paws. Having bought many, many bottles of that beer, I can attest that it ages very well (2-2.5 years easily). I know the recipe has changed over the years, but I always keep one or two of each vintage and open them 1-2 years later.

My current dog, Noci, does somewhat resemble Rick’s dog, who is one of the two dogs on the 2016 bottles you tried.

Interesting so the Christmas Ales are always Dog themed. I doubt mine bottles will make it to two years but its good to know they can hang. The Pils is already gone. Should get notes and pics from Walter Scott and Goodfellow up this weekend.

Thanks for the kind words Sean! We are starting the raffle for the 2018 Sandy Paws dog, so if anyone is interested, send me a PM.

[cheers.gif] After a nice car picnic lunch at Cristom with some great food from New Seasons market we headed over to our next stop

Walter Scott Wines

Erica greeted us out front when we arrived and welcomed into the barrel room for tasting. It was a beautiful site on Temperance Hill but the Oregon mist that day was not cooperating with outdoor site seeing.

Erica goofing off

We met another two couples of wine geeks who were tasting with us visiting from Memphis, TN. I enjoyed the small group tasting format. Small enough to get more than enough personal questions but big enough to hear other points of view questions and sharing experiences from their previous visits to the area.

We tasted first through 4 SVD Pinots.

All 4 pinots were singing out of the gates and seemed to have structure for at least 5-10 years. Love the balancing acids in all the wines and they all showed their own unique character. I jotted some notes after the tasting before dinner.

2016 Pinot Noir Sojourner Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills

Powerful and Spicy but in an elegant restrained way. Interesting paradigm

2016 Pinot Noir Clos des Oiseaux, Eola-Amity Hills

The most round and lush (of their wines, This is not RR Pinot). A bit more fruit, med tannins. Some great spice characteristic in the wine as well.

2016 Seven Springs Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills
Amazing wine, Fruit, Earth, leather and delicate flowers on the nose. Elegant palate with great finish. My favorite of the Pinots… IMO the most AFWE of the bunch.

2016 Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Concentrated dark fruit with smoky, meaty aromas. Med tannins with an long finish.

2016 Chardonnay, X Novo Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills
Bright Citrus and Sea shells on the nose., some reduction Crisp and acidic, with strong grapefruit and some orange at the front of the palate. Moving to some richness and oak on the mid palate with a long crisp finish. Its changing around in my mouth and I keep wanting more. All this going on but in a elegant refined way. Could drink this all day. WOTT!!! [cheers.gif]

The Cuvee Ann chardonnay I enjoyed previously at home was excellent but it was not up the level excitement and finesse of the X-Novo or the Freedom Hill I had once I returned home. I Picked up some more wine of what they had left and then scoured the net to find a retailer who had some 15 and 16 Chardonnays to round out the offering. Next offer I will buy on release day as these tend to go pretty fast. Erica was an amazing host with a lot of passion and knowledge about wine and some pretty good stories. She took us through all the different soils and we spent a lot of time looking at a giant map of the valley as we tasted through the wines and gave us an education on the variety of soils in the Willamette Valley. Ken was busy working in another room topping off barrels but made an appearance later in the tasting as Erica was sharing some juicy story of their love life.

After his ears perked up and he appeared to defend his honor,Ken then let us taste some barrel samples of some new projects (some were not Pinot Noir or Chard either!). I wont divulge more. I will say they were outstanding and I know I won’t hesitate in the least to pull the trigger on these when they are released.

Ken topping off some barrels

Overall, A great tasting experience. Kitty liked a few of the Pinot Noirs more than others and absolutely enjoyed the Chardonnay the most. Surprising coming from a lady who prefers red wines… Still raining outside so we were off to check into 3rd st flats in McMinville and then on to the final tasting of the afternoon at Goodfellow Family Cellars.

champagne.gif champagne.gif champagne.gif

Reading with great interest for future trip. Thanks!

Glad its not short and boring. I need to accelerate my posting. Have 6 more stops to cover…

Great thread Sean. I have to get back up there.

Yes, please accelerate, Sean!

My wife and I and a friend will be in McMinnville at the tail end of June and early July, so this is all quite helpful (along with some of the other Mac posts). Haven’t been there for a few years, so feeling overdue.

Bergstrom is a good spot

Small world! When discussing Walter Scott Wines with our neighbor couple, found out they went to school with Erica. Just had to suggest that Wine is Serious Business video. [cheers.gif]

Welcome to Mac:
3rd St Flats

So before Goodfellow we had a few minutes to check in to 3rd St flats. Check in was across the Street at R Stuart Wine tasting room/bar. Check in was easy and painless and they offered free wine. We just wanted to get the keys etc and they through us some tickets for free tastings. Location was awesome once you were there. Free parking is at the parking garage 2 blocks away. There were some homeless folks living in the garage and were all missing a few screws. Everyone was polite and had no issues. Downtown is small enough to easily walk by foot. We walked in the rain and the sun over the weekend and loved the mellow urban wine thing. The 3rd st flats is an old building decorated in a combination of modern and the old charm of the place, We both loved enjoyed the decorating and the vibe. 2 Bedroom, big kitchen, living room. It was large for 2 of us.

There was only one problem and it was a evident the moment we walked in, The place stank When we first walked in I got strong musty, sour, odor. Not cat urine but faint urine. Look down and there what looks like 10+ year old carpet on the stairs (Bingo!) It was permeating the place. We got in the room and opened all the windows and it started to clear but it needed to breath all weekend and still had residual odor on Sunday when we left. Wife let several employees know. One tried to blame it the vegan restaurant downstairs (Sorry not buying it). I think the same employee indicated that they just had the carpet steam cleaned a few days ago. (Bingo again). Must of unlocked the nasty old stench. Our flat had hard woods the area rugs were new and clean. The carpet in the halls on the stairs needs to be ripped out. We were not spending much time with at the flats though so it was tolerable. The place was solid A except for that. Expected at the Motel 6, not here IMO.
Gets a C. Marcus’ Wife Gairon poole has a rental house in town we checked out but it was booked the weekend we were there.

The lone picture I took of the room.
McMenamins Hotel Roof Top bar at Sunset on Saturday
Never heard of this place before but I guess Oregonians must like these boutique hotels because they have a bunch of them. Kitty absolutely loved the funky style and extensive artwork. She liked it so much we visited another in downtown Portland sunday afternoon before flying home. It seems like a shared bathroom situation in the two we visited. Both had cool bars and the 3 level roof top bar and deck on top of the hotel in Mac had amazing views. If you make it to Mac it worth a detour to check out the view.

Its late. I’ll add notes and commentary in the morning.

Goodfellow Family Cellars

Wide view from Alpine avenue of the grain district

This was taken Friday late afternoon and it was dead. Saturday and Sunday the place was hopping and lots of familys out having fun.

View of Goodfellow from the back side on the newly completed Alpine st Zone

Marcus and some All Stars!

  • 2015 Goodfellow Family Cellars Chardonnay Richard’s Cuvee - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge (4/28/2018)
    Racy minerality and zesty lemon on the nose and the front of the palate. Amazing balance of the fruit and the minerality playing with the oak on the mid palate and finish. The oak well integrated into this wine and seems to bring everything together. Its amazingly elegant and restrained with a long finish. I can’t wait to taste how these evolve over the next 5 to 10 years. Exceptional QPR! (95 pts.)

  • 2015 Goodfellow Family Cellars Pinot Noir Heritage No. 5 - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (4/28/2018)
    Beautiful lush cherry on the nose and front of the palate. Followed up with great balancing acidity and hint of vanilla. The finish is long as the firm gripping tannins come into play. This wine gets better in the glass as it opens and needs some years before it reaches its true potential but its drinking well for an infant. Paired well with classic Steak Tartar. This is a big wine that will only get better with age. (94 pts.)

Heritage No. 5 that we enjoyed with dinner

Goodfellow bottling and a brewery I didn’t manage to visit

Nice! Were you able to go to Brittan next door to Goodfellows?

Haha small world, when i was working harvest there i rented a room from Lisa, Heather Allen’s brewer (and Rick’s daughter). Ignatius or Iggy as we called him is a very yappy animal but sweet when he gets used to you.

Did not make it to Brittan. Saturday was Eyrie and Vincent and an impromptu before dinner tasting at R Stuart. Will cover those soon…

Thanks for the additional posts, Sean. Marcus’ wines, as you noted, are very good!

We did not taste this 16 WV Chard when I visited Marcus. But certainly worth a cross post. Easy case buy… Even though its more ABV than the Twill its more subtle and I think will drink better for 5 years. The Twill could turn into something quite interesting with age. I look forward to watching both of these progress over the next decade. Both are Tier 1 QPR buys for me.

  • 2016 Goodfellow Family Cellars Chardonnay - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (6/9/2018)
    Med Pale in color, med in body. Got some reduction when first opened, and then sea shells, light citrus, and fresh air. On the palate I get Med+ acidity and fruit (citrus) up front, then some richness on the mid palate from the malo and barrel. Its got a long lingering finish. Tart citrus bouncing back and forth with the oak and the richness. The acid on this wine is on the palate front to back. Somehow its not overpowering yet omnipresent. Ridiculously good QPR for a very tasty chardonnay. (Tasted side by side with a Twill 2016 WV Chardonnay, also amazing!) POBEGA’D from the Fed-Ex guy, sampled over 2 days. How is this wines $20?

13.2 ABV, Only 226 cases. Blend of Durant and Whistling Ridge Vineyards. DIAM 3 cork. (A++ for putting DIAM on every wine in the lineup from the Whistling Ridge white to the SVD Heritage reserves). (93 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Pobega’d with this and taste side bu side over two days

  • 2016 Twill Cellars Chardonnay - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (6/9/2018)
    Med Pale, perfectly clear and shimmering in the light. Hint of sea shells and then a nice light waft of caramel make an inviting nose. There is richness even on the tip of the palate, with pear, citrus and caramel bouncing off the persistant acidity. The finish is long and dominated by the acidity with the butterscotch lingering to compliment. To me, this is Oregon in style even though it offers elements of California in its profile. Tasted side by side with 16 Goodfellow WV chardonnay, The Twill tasted more acidic yet bigger on the richness and the caramel but in a subtle Oregon kinda way. Excellent wine. POBEGA’D from the Fed-Ex guy, sampled over 2 days. Great QPR for $20

12.6% ABV, Johan, Molly’s, and Stormy Morning Vineyards. DIAM 10 Cork
(A++ for the super high quality cork on a budget friendly wine) (91 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Oregon Trip trivia fact
BTW: 9/9 producers we tasted with over the 3 days poured into these exquisite Riedle Vinum XL Oregon Pinot Glasses
I carried 4 home on the plane and have bee enjoying them since. They bring out the aromatics and drench the tip of the tongue with flavor. A bit Cali/Texas at 28.5 Oz Capacity…

Love em!