Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What is Pinot Camp?

Greetings and Salutations,

Having just returned from Oregon Pinot Camp, I’m filled with excitement and enthusiasm for the wines of the Willamette Valley, both red and white, and a greater understanding of the people who make such great wine.

It began on Saturday evening with a reception at the Dundee Bistro (The owner and chef, Mr. Stoller-Smith, worked hard to make amazing nibbles)borrowed from the Dundee Bistro website

Unfortunately, the heat (over 90 degrees), made the tasting a rather grueling event.

After that, my husband, my baby and I headed to Tony Soter’s Mineral Springs Ranch for a home-cooked dinner.

The views were breathtaking. Turkey vultures actually circled below us, and the elevation insured that we were much cooler than down on the valley floor.

Tony Soter and his wife Michelle provided beautiful sparkling rose and a selection of their wines (Cab Franc? Sure!) some of which are no longer available. They farm completely biodynamically, and the the lamb that was grilled for us that evening was the estate’s own. An amazing evening!

The next day, we rose early, and were on the bus by 7:30 am every day. We were bribed with killer mimosas (the Elk Cove 1999 Sparkling was to pretty to mar with OJ. I bit the bullet and had it alone on the second day), and then hit all day seminars, some in the vineyards, and some indoors.

A quick break for lunch (and an Oregon microbrew…to clear the palate), and then back on the bus for afternoon seminars. Both Sunday and Monday my vineyard seminars were in the heat of the day. We tromped around in 90+degree afternoons, learning about viticulture and soil types. This was my favorite part of OPC, by far, giving me insight into the most important part of winemaking. It was a fantastic learning experience.

Then, back onto the bus, back to our rooms, and a quick shower (and in my case, a quick baby fix) and 30 minutes later, back onto the bus! Every evening dinner was preceded by a tasting. We spent two hours sampling the offerings from the participation wineries’ current vintages of both red and whites from the Willamette, and then dinner.

Winemakers and proprietors shared our tables, and moved from table to table offering older and rare wines during dinner. Sunday’s dinner was at Domaine Serene, a beautiful, manicured, Tuscan-style winery.

The dogs of Domaine Serene live in much natural beauty.
from the Domaine Serene website

The highlight of that evening was the chance to taste two older vintages: a 1981 Pinot Noir and a 1994 Chardonnay. On Monday evening, we were at Stoller Vineyards, for a traditional Salmon bake and S’mores. Stoller is the family turkey farm that is now one of the largest vineyard and winery operations in the valley.

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Again fantastic wines made the rounds, and, again, The chance to taste older vintages was irresistible to me.

Camp ended on Tuesday, when I made my way up to AnnAmie Vineyards
for a little reggae, barbecue, massage and a couple of glasses of icy cold pink wine to ward off the heat.

A couple of more days in Portland (I highly recommend the Ace Hotel), a few farmer’s markets, a visit to a local cheese shop, and a fantastic dinner at Departure downtown, rounded out our trip.

Over and Out.

-Jan Henrichsen.

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