Southern Oregon Wines

Dave, one of the other regular tasters on Thursday nights at Fine Wines of Stockton, presented this wine tasting. Dave frequently visits friends in Oregon and on a recent trip collected wines from three wineries in the Southern Oregon AVA (American Viticultural Area).

There are 17 AVAs within Oregon, counting the recently designated Elkton AVA. All three wineries are within the Southern Oregon Appellation, one is within the Umpqua Valley AVA which is a sub-appellation of Southern Oregon and two are in the most recently declared Elkton AVA which is a sub-appellation of the Umpqua Valley.

Warmer and drier than the Willamette Valley AVA, the Umpqua Valley AVA consists of a collection of hillsides and river drainages of small mountain ranges with many microclimates and many soil types (150). It stretches 65 miles in length from around Elkton, south to Canyonville and is approximately 25 miles wide.

As noted, Elkton is Oregon’s newest AVA is within the Umpqua Valley AVA. It has been designated to recognize the moister and cooler growing area caused by the marine influence of the Pacific Ocean within the Umpqua Valley AVA. The Elkton AVA is approximately 79,000 acres with 96.5 acres of producing vineyards.

Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Bordeaux varietals, Rieslings and Gewürztraminer grow well in the Umpqua Valley AVA. Currently more than 30 grape varietals are grown in the AVA and over 20 wineries in the Umpqua Valley AVA.

Bradley Vineyards, located within the Elkton AVA, has ideal soil and weather conditions for Pinot Noir, Baco Noir, Gewürztraminer and Riesling which are planted over 25 acres. All wines are estate grown and vineyards were planted in 1983.

Anindor Vineyards is located within the Elkton AVA in the Misty Hills, three miles south of the town of Elkton. The established vineyard was purchased by Rod and Nina Pace in 2005. You may be curious about the name of the vineyard, as I was. Nina explained it is Rod and Nina spelled backwards. How clever! The bird pictured on their labels, a Goss Hawk, preys on robins. Nina explained, flocks of migratory robins can do serious damage to vineyards. We all love birds, but not in the vineyard, please.

They grow Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Baco Noir on 14 acres. The Gewürztraminer was grafted to #777 clone Pinot Noir in 2008 and one acre of Baco Noir was planted in 2009. They hope to have their first bottling of Baco Noir in 2013.

Fruit is hand-picked and sorted. Minimal intervention is used and the winery is LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified. LIVE is an independent non-profit organization that certifies vineyards and wineries using international sustainability standards.

Misty Oaks Vineyard is located west of Sutherlin, about 23 miles south of Elkton, and is in the Umpqua Valley AVA. The name of the winery comes from the fog that hangs on the hills of the Tyee Range where the vineyards are planted. Vineyard elevation ranges from 700 to 1000 feet with a southern exposure.

Steve and Christy Simmons tend 15 acres planted in six varietals (Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer). Vineyards have unique growing conditions and are each named for a physical attribute or relevant incident. Gobblers Knob, Stuckagain Heights and Viper Trail are my favorites. Each wine is labeled with the vineyard name. All are estate grown and bottled.

Here are the wines we tasted and what we thought:

2011 Misty Oaks Vineyard Constitution Ridge Pinot Blanc – light yellow color with orange blossom on the nose followed by citrus flavors, great acidity and a light mouth-feel. Orange peel on the finish made this a pleasant sipper. It would be great on a hot summer day.

2006 Anindor Gewürztraminer2006 Anindor Vineyards Gewürztraminer – mineral and floral nose with honey and citrus flavors. This wine had a round mouth-feel with good acidity and a slightly sweet finish. It would be great with spicy food. (Some tasters thought they detected a bit of tannin in this wine, but it does not spend any time in oak.)

2010 Bradley Vineyards Dry Riesling – characteristic riesling nose with lemony-citrus flavors and good acid. The very light mouth-feel of this wine was a great contrast to the rounder mouth-feel of the prior wine. Two different varietals with very different weight in the mouth. Both delicious.

2008 Bradley Vineyards Pinot Noir – this light ruby colored wine had a rich ripe fruit nose with a bit of barrel toast. The flavors of tart cherries were well balanced with moderate tannins and good acid. Another good food wine.

2005 Anindor Vineyards Pinot Noir – this wine is still a light ruby color in spite of its age. The nose was earthy and complex with flavors of dark berries, smoke and a bit of tobacco. Tannins are smooth and the finish is fairly long. The longer this wine sat in the glass, the more interesting it became. It is developing those really interesting older flavors. Wonder what it might do with a bit more time.

2011 Bradley Baco Noir2011 Bradley Vineyards Baco Noir – this wine was a beautiful deep ruby-violet. The nose was complex with ripe dark fruit and very evident immediately upon pouring. Flavors tasted of dark ripe fruit and a bit of spice and vanilla. This wine has a lot of acid and significant tannins. It has a heavier weight in the mouth and would be great with BBQ ribs. This was not a shy wine. I am curious to try more of this varietal as I have very little experience with it.

2009 Misty Oaks Vineyard Gobblers Knob Red Wine – this wine had a restrained nose of dark fruit with complex dark fruit flavors, leather and a bit of vegetal flavors. This wine had a very light body and was well balanced with acid and tannins. Described by some tasters as classy, this wine would pair well with roast beef or roasted quail. The blend on this elegant wine is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 6% Malbec. Dave explained the name of this vineyard comes from the wild turkeys roosting in the oak tree in this vineyard. Can’t you just picture it?2009 Misty Oaks Red Wine

This was a great introduction to the wines of an area of Oregon that I was not familiar with. There are over twenty wineries in the Umpqua Valley and Elkton AVAs, so there is a lot of wine to be explored in this area. I am particularly interested in tasting more Baco Noir.

Thank you Dave for touring this interesting wine area and bringing back some great wines for us to try. Your timing was perfect as it allowed us to taste wines from the newest Oregon AVA, Elkton, which was just established on February 5, 2013.