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 Soter Vineyards: A Great Notion

 Soter Vineyards: A Great Notion


Posted on Jun 7, 2017

Soter Vineyards Oregon

The driveway at Mineral Springs Ranch.

Perched on top of a vineyard-lined hill sits a converted barn that is now the beautiful tasting room of Soter Vineyards, one of the very top wineries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Surrounding the tasting room is a grove of old oak trees that provide shade and frame the view of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA in the valley below. As we approach, out from the tasting room comes a smiling Hallie Whyte, Director of Sales and Operations, with two glasses of Rosé to greet us. It is the perfect way to begin a fantastic tasting of some of Oregon’s very best Pinot Noir.

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Eugene Oregon

King Estate Winery

To say we were surprised by what we found when we visited King Estate Winery at the southern end of the Willamette Valley would be a massive understatement. We suppose the name itself should have been a dead giveaway but as we drove from downtown Eugene via roads that took us through largely rural farmland, we were almost stopped in our tracks when we turned the last corner to see an enormous chateau sitting atop a hill surrounded by hundreds of acres of vines.

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Rex PickettIn 2004, Rex Pickett wrote Sideways, a novel telling the tale of two friends, Miles and Jack, that go on a road trip together through Santa Barbara’s wine country prior to Jack’s pending marriage. Six years later, the hotly anticipated sequel “Vertical: Passion & the Pinot” was released. Just last year it was re-edited, illustrations were added, and the book re-released by Loose Gravel Press.

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Willamette Valley Oregon

The DDO vineyards on a cool March day.

History is, of course, an important subject and shapes much of the present in so many endeavours. But in the wine world, we have learned, history plays an even more important role than in most fields. Perhaps that is because making fine wine is more art than science. The art of making wine has history very much at its foundations: it is passed down from generation to generation, very often within the same family. Such is the case of Burgundy’s Drouhin family, who first began in the wine business 137 years ago in Beaune when Maison Joseph Drouhin was founded. It did not take long for this domaine to prosper and successive generations of Drouhins took it from strength to strength. Today Maison Joseph Drouhin is a Burgundy powerhouse; a domaine that it has grown to become a significant business in the area and one that also holds some of the best vineyard lands and produces some of Burgundy’s top wines.

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Big Table Farm: Down to Earth

Big Table Farm: Down to Earth


Posted on May 17, 2017

Willamette Valley oregon

Brian, Clare & Levi.

One of our favourite things about wine is that it brings people together. Big Table Farm has built their winery and farm on this concept as winemaker Brian Marcy and partner Clare Carver combine their passion for wine, food and art into a place that is one part winery, one part working farm and all parts impressive.

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FranceThe name Chapoutier is nearly synonymous with the Rhone Valley. Headquartered in Tain in the Northern Rhone’s Hermitage A.O.C., Maison M. Chapoutier produces a great number of wines from both the Northern Rhone and from the Southern Rhone. From the value-end to the very top wines in the region, Chapoutier is able to do both because it owns its own vineyards as well as having a large “negociant” business where they buy grapes and wine made by other and distribute under their name and auspices. Originally founded in 1808 by the Calvet family, the Chapoutier family acquired it in 1855 and it has remained in family hands ever since.

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Brewer-Clifton Winery Santa Barbara

Winemaker Greg Brewer

We pulled up to Brewer-Clifton on a sunny but cool day in January. Outside of the winery stood Greg Brewer, co-founder and winemaker, looking up into the sky, his hand shielding his eyes, as he squinted into the sun. “That is the new Space-X rocket” he said, pointing. “Cool…. I’m Greg” he says as he stretches out his hand in greeting, a broad smile beneath dancing eyes. It turns out that initial moment captured a lot of the personality of the man we were about to spend the next 90 minutes with. Brewer is intellectual, curious about all sorts of things, warm, unusual and one seriously good winemaker.

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It’s rare to see a successful winemaker succeeding in the Napa Valley give up a sure thing to move to Oregon and start a new winery working with a completely different grape and climate. That’s exactly what Steve Girard did and the Willamette Valley is that much better for it.

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