Full disclosure here, I have been a fan of Left Coast since tasting their wines last year. My interest in Left Coast was first peaked by a bottle of their White Pinot Noir. At the time I had to ask myself, why would someone take perfectly good Pinot Noir grapes and make a white wine from them? The answer was easy to understand after enjoying a bottle of this white wine for the first time. I had the opportunity to visit Left Coast Estate during the Wine Writers Educational Tour (WWET) of Willamette Valley when the winery hosted our group for dinner and wine tasting of other Oregon wine varietals.
As you drive up the long and meandering road to the Left Coast tasting room you get a sense of just how expansive the estate really is. Left Coast is more than just an estate winery, it is also a fully functioning farm with 150 acres of vineyards spread out over the 356 acre farm. The vineyards are mingled among Oregon oaks, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, fields of beautiful wild flowers, and helping to pollinate it all are the estate bees. Roaming the land you will see ducks and other wild fowl along with chickens doing their part to help the biodiversity of this land.
This location was discovered in 2003 by Left Coast founders Suzanne Larson and Robert Pfaff who laid out a plan to turn the property into more than just a family farm and winery, but a place that would endure for generations to come. At Left Coast they are “Working to fulfill our commitments to the strengths and benefits of biodiversity, we strive to be the best possible stewards of the land.” Left Coast Estate is LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture and Ecology) and Salmon Safe certified, and participates in the groundbreaking program “Salud” that guarantees basic healthcare to seasonal field workers. The winery and vineyard are 90% solar powered, constituting the 2nd largest agricultural solar grant in Oregon.
Situated on the 45th parallel, Left Coast Estate vineyards are planted on varying slopes, elevations and soils which brings distinction and complexity to each of their wines. The Estate is home to approximately 150 acres under vine including; Pinot Noir (61%), Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, Syrah, and Viognier.
“The vineyard is divided into eight unique microclimates, each with its own set of characteristics based on soil type, exposure and elevation ranging from 225 ft to 510 ft above sea level. There is not one terroir at Left Coast but many, allowing our wines to showcase multiple personalities of Willamette Valley wines, bound together through the thoughtful work of Luke McCollum in the vineyard and Joe Wright in the cellar.” Quote from Left Coast’s Website.
Left Coast Estate is home to 11 vineyards including ‘Field of Dreams’ which is the largest at 22 acres.
During the WWET in Willamette Valley we tasted a large variety of Oregon Pinot Noir. The dinner, hosted by Left Coast, was a welcome opportunity to taste some of the other varietals that the Willamette Valley offers.
Dinner included many items from the Left Coast Estate and gardens as well as other local ingredients.
‘Other Varietals’ enjoyed in order of Wine Service:
Writing about each of these wonderful Willamette Valley wines will be saved for another post. However, I would like to thank the winemakers for sharing these other varietal selections with us.
Left Coast Estate’s Winemaker (who was not able to attend) Joe Wright joined the team in 2011. “He was drawn to the diversity of Left Coast Cellar’s 356 acre estate and is now devoted to carefully producing exclusively estate-grown wines that reflect the special characters of their sites.”
Visiting the Pfaff family and beautiful Estate of Left Coast was definitely a highlight of my WWET Willamette Valley trip. I truly can’t wait to return and spend more time exploring the vineyards, gardens and grounds, as well as try more of their remarkable Oregon Wines.
Left Coast Estate is located at 4225 N Pacific Hwy W, Rickreall, OR and the tasting room is open daily from 12-5 and Friday form 12-8. You can learn more about Left Coast on their website.
Prior to my visit to Left Coast Estate I spent the summer enjoying some of their wines.
Sample wines reviewed in this blog post were supplied by Left Coast but the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Have you visited Left Coast Estate in the Willamette Valley or had the opportunity to taste their wines? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
Last month I attended the WWET in the Willamette Valley and during this tour we had the memorable opportunity to be audience to 6 of the winemaking pioneers of the Willamette Valley.
My hope is to share the story and wines from each of these original founding families of the Willamette Valley and the wines that they shared during the tasting part of the seminar. Each of their personal stories is filled with inspiration, struggles and strong determination to succeed in a business that most of them really knew nothing about, winemaking in the Willamette Valley. Each of these pioneer’s history and story is equally educational and fascinating, so let’s begin with David Adelsheim.
David Adelsheim’s story and winemaking journey began in the Willamette Valley in 1971.
(All quotes from David are from the seminar on August 13, 2019)
David began his story with a little background of how he ended up in the Willamette Valley.
“To give you an idea of our entry into the wine industry, my first wife and I wanted to move from Portland out to the suburbs. But, we didn’t want to go to far away from Portland because of the fact that we never lived outside of the city.”
“So we drew a circle around Portland and kind of went in several directions, but when we came southwest we ended up in this area and ran into a realtor and he told us he had heard that some people had planted wine grapes, which was extremely exciting to me, so we spend the rest of the afternoon looking for wine grapes, and actually never found any.”
Intrigued by the story of wine grapes being grown in the area, David and his first wife continued there search.
“Toward the end of the day we drove up Kings Grey Road, which is over in the Chehalem Mountains, and stopped a guy who was outside his house and asked him if he had ever heard of anybody who had planted wine grapes. And, as it turned out he and that man was Dickey Erath, and he pointed out back a couple of miles away to what was back then the first vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains.”
Dick “Dickey” Erath of Erath Winery purchased his first vineyard site on Chehalem Mountain in 1968. In 1969 Dick planted four acres of the property with 23 wine varieties, including Pinot Noir.
“We didn’t actually see those grapes back then either, but as it turned out we had a friend in common, a student who was taking a class, with Bill Blosser. We conceived a plan to get to Bill Blosser and we got in his office and that is where we meet Bill and his wife Susan. Susan invited us to a May Day party, this was 1971, at their rental home which was in the Dundee Hills and they invited some other people. In my mind it was, the Ponzi’s, Harry (Peterson-Nedry) and the Courys (Charles and Shirley Coury). At that point we knew about half of the wine industry.”
Charles and Shirley Coury arrived in the Willamette Valley in March of 1965 and planted their first vines in a nursery which was established by cared for by David Lett. The Coury’s then returned a year later from California and purchased land in Forest Grove that had formally been operated as a vineyard and winery. On the property historically named David Hill, the Coury’s replanted Pinot Noir and Riesling.
David continued to share bits of history from the those years in the 70’s and into the early 80’s, with one bit of important information.
“Nobody ever sold wine, nobody had ever run a business or had a great deal of experience in winemaking.”
David went on to share some of his personal insight into winemaking in the Willamette Valley and tried to answer the question of ‘Why are you here’.
“Why is the Willamette Valley here today with that kind of beginning? I think the answer is ‘Collaborative Peace’, which Susan (Sokol-Blosser) mentioned. The second extremely important piece is we wanted to make great wine.”
Many at the table agreed during the seminar that what was a critical factor in the success of the Willamette Valley wine industry was that they did not set out to make money. David commented, “we just didn’t know how you did that in this business and I think it didn’t matter that much.”
David then moved on to discuss the two wines that he had brought for the tasting that day; first a 1986 Adelsheim Vineyard Pinot Noir ‘Elizabeth’s Reserve’ Willamette Valley and then a 2007 Adelsheim Vineyard Pinot Noir ‘Bryan Creek Vineyard’ Chehalem Mountains.
“The wine that I actually want you to try is the kind of thing that we did back then, this is a ’86 Reserve, that is in fact a blend of two different vineyards, one from the Chehalem Mountains and one from the Dundee Hills. This wine came about because we wanted to make a small wine of what we thought would be an even better wine. By selecting the best barrels from these two sites which made this wine.“
I thoroughly enjoyed the story behind this 1986 vintage that David told in visually expressive way, with comments and laughter added by everyone at the table.
“Now ’86 was not a particularly great vintage and we added a dimension to this wine, which comes out as a minty quality, that would be what became known as the ‘Zambelli Effect. Before this we were doing things smaller, by hand, sometimes in buckets. But then this ‘music man’ came around and he had a piece of equipment that was glowing stainless steel and promised a lot of labor saving advantages. It would de-stem, it would crush and as a result our wines changed. And, we all recognized this.”
When it came time to introduce his second wine you could tell that David was extremely proud of this vintage, and rightfully so, it was in a word Amazing! Here is what Mr. Adelsheim had to say about this 2007 Pinot Noir:
“I wanted to bring this (2007) because it is illustrative of what has happened since around 2000. The 2017 Bryon Creek is a single vineyard, we had made single vineyards before but this was the first time we didn’t call it Chehalem Mountains. Chehalem Mountains which I had petitioned for was finally approved in 2006 and so this was the first thing we bottled that we could put that AVA on.“
David Adelsheim is a strong supporter of single vineyard and this wine marked the next step in really giving his wines a sense of place.
“Willamette Valley is not just about large scale place, its about small scale place. It is my belief that the future of the Willamette Valley and Pinot Noir is about single vineyards, single block vineyards, because they are so distinct.”
“When you can produce a single vineyard, that changes everything about a wine. Because you are no longer talking about how to make the wine better. All you can do is leave things out. Because you got what you got and if you screwed it up in fermentation or screwed up a barrel, all you can do is leave that out. So it takes winemaking to the next level, it requires a higher level of focus. But, the pleasures that you retrieve from a single place, single variety of a wine are hugely different from what you get by pushing things together to off set this little problem by putting this wine into that over here. When you do this it no longer tastes of that singular place. So, to me this was the first (2007) vintage we got to actually say where that place was.”
For me this 2007 Bryon Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir was a perfect Willamette Valley Pinot and I felt incredibly lucky to be able to taste this vintage. On the nose and on the palate my first thought was brandy soaked cherries with a familiar mineral scent that I had discovered in many of the areas wines. I think many at my table agreed this was an exceptional wine.
It is not often that you get the good fortune to be among such an important group of individuals who with determination, hard work and yes luck, built a wine region literally from the ground up. I can’t say whether or not I will ever have an opportunity like this seminar again, but I know that it will be one that I remember for years to come.
Thank you Richard and Nancy Ponzi, Harry Peterson-Nedry, David Adelsheim, Jason Lett, and Susan Sokol-Blosser for taking the time to share your incredible stories with us.
I hope that you enjoyed David Adelsheim’s story as much as I did, I will be sharing more from this seminar and the stories from the other Willamette Valley pioneers very soon.
ALL images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
For those who get excited when they hear the cork being popped on a bottle of Sparkling wine, the amount of time and labor that goes into producing this treasure is often not the first thought on their wine drinking radar. It’s the seduction of the sound, the shimmery bubbles, and the perfect flavors that keep Sparkling wine sales rising here in the United States. With ten consecutive years of sales growth in the U.S., sparkling wine sales is a good indicator that people are not just buying more wine, they are buying more expensive wine and enjoying every sip. In Oregon, there is a continuing devotion and an uptick in Sparkling Wine production which is gracefully elbowing its way into a place among the worlds top-quality bubbles.
While Oregon may well be known for its versatile and award-winning Pinot Noir, yet its accomplishments with sparkling wines change the dialogue when it comes to discussions about Oregon wines. With a suitable climate for the production of traditional Champagne varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Oregon’s sun soaked and wind swept hillside vineyards are yielding an array of sparkling wines exhibiting Oregon’s pioneer determination as well as elegance and complexity.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit Argyle Winery in Willamette Valley as part of the Wine Writers Educational Tour (WWET). Our stop at Argyle was both a lunch, beautifully hosted by Argyle and an Oregon sparkling wine educational seminar with four Willamette Valley Sparkling Winemakers.
During lunch we had the pleasure of tasting Sparkling wines from Argyle Winery, ROCO, Willamette Valley Vineyards, and Bryn Mawr. The winemakers from each of these prestigious wineries shared with us the story of their sparkling production journey while we sampled each of their unique Oregon sparkling wines. The Oregon Sparkling Seminar, with an emphasis on the Willamette Valley, was a great way to dive deeper into the history of Sparkling production in the Valley as well as get a better perspective of how the winemakers see this style of wine evolving in the future for Oregon and the Willamette Valley.
More than three decades ago the journey to produce Oregon Sparkling wine on a large scale was pioneered by Argyle and Rollin Soles of ROCO, then the head winemaker and co-founder (along with Brian Croser) of Argyle Winery. Rollin will tell you that the Willamette Valley “is really a fantastic place to grow sparkling wine grapes, but you don’t turn the sparkling winemaking process on (in a snap of the fingers) and you don’t learn the craft in that way either.”
“If you want to become a red winemaker in the Willamette Valley, and make Pinot Noir in the Valley, it’s like Bingo Bango Bongo and you look like a champion. But, with sparkling wine, that is not the case. It is hard for folks to wrap their heads around the proper long term process and aging methods of sparkling wines.”
Although most Oregon wineries age their sparkling wines for two to three years before releasing the vintage, it’s becoming common to hold back a portion of the production for extended 5 to 10 year tirages.
For more information on the Sparkling Wine process visit Wine Folly’s informative Website: https://winefolly.com/review/how-sparkling-wine-is-made/
Individual winery production of sparkling wine in the state is still small, with Argyle leading the way with the largest production of five different sparkling wines. Many other Oregon wineries are only releasing fewer than a hundred cases, making their sparkling wines hard to find, even locally, outside the winery tasting rooms. Sparkling wine is undoubtedly more challenging than a still wine like Pinot Noir, and the processing time is not the only hurdle that wineries have to overcome when producing sparkling wines. Growing or sourcing the right fruit, in the right condition, can be a limiting factor for some wineries. Luckily the climate of the Willamette Valley is ideal for producing exclusive fruits and thus exclusive wines with flavor characteristics different for anywhere else in the United States.
The fact is that some wine regions lend themselves to sparkling wine production better than others and Oregon is continuing to, like bubbles in a glass, rise to the top in the world of sparkling, one vintage at a time. Below are just a few examples of the Sparkling wines tasted on the Wine Writes Educational Tour that are available from Willamette Valley wineries.
Sometimes words just can’t do a wine justice and this is the case with this Arygle Sparkling Wine. With layers of fruit flavor and crisp acidity this 2008 Entended Tirage Brut was aged upon the lees for 10 years giving it a deep and creamy character. Orange zest springs forward with each sip, followed by honey buttered toast flavors. A beautiful Sparkling that sings a beautiful song of elegance with each bubble released.
If you haven’t tried a ROCO RMS Sparkling wine yet, spoiler alert…they are fantastic! The 2015 Sparkling Brut from ROCO is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, and made in the traditional méthode Champenoise. Alluring is a word that comes to mind when sipping this sparkling, the color, the shimmer and the aroma vie for your attention, distracting you from taking that first sip. Then when you pull your attention back to the task at hand and indulge in the first sip you get flavors of a fresh morning breakfast of fruit cocktail and freshly toasted bread mingled with a saline wish. In a word, Sparktacular!
The Willamette Valley Vineyard Brut 2015 may have held the most surprises for me in the way of flavor. More citrusy than the other sparkling wines tasted, this Brut washed over my tongue in waves of citrus and zest with hints of apple and that all familiar burnt toast note. Lovely with a silky and smooth texture I couldn’t imagine a better wine to have with a cheese platter on a lazy summer afternoon sitting under a shade tree. Delightful!
Bryn Mawr describes their Innovation Series as an introduction to “unbridled winemaking curiosity and technical exploration to our lineup. Different varietals, different techniques, and anything but predictable, these small batch experiments are made with no guarantees of a repeat next vintage. ” This completely sums up what you will experience in a bottle of their 2018 Pétillant Naturel (natural sparkling) a uniquely unpredictable sparkling experience. I loved the use of 10% Maréchal Foch (read more about my infatuation with this grape https://drinkinlife.blog/a-grape-odyssey-marechel-foch/ ) in this sparkling along with 84 % Pinot Gris and 6% Pinot Noir. Winemaker, Rachel Rose, has created a creamy, dreamy, sweet and spirited sparkling with this wine. A must try!
I had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner at Left Coast Cellars in Rickreall, OR with Beth James during the WWET WV tour. As their 2017 Chris James Cellars ‘Prost!'(meaning “cheers” in German) Willamette Valley Sparkling Wine was being poured Beth, with a contagious amount of enthusiasm, told us a little about their journey into the world of winemaking and the conception of this delicious Oregon Sparkling wine. What made this sparkling so appealing is that it is a white blend of 60% Cider and 40% Gewürztraminer. An absolutely amazing flavor combination with sweet green apple taking center stage in both aroma and flavor. Mingled with flavors of a fresh batch of spiced applesauce you get whispers of floral notes and a refreshing dry finish. A sparkling so lovely that I could not bring myself to pour it out when the next wine needed space in my glass. So, I eagerly finished it, problem solved!
On the last day of the WWET WV tour we were hosted at the stunning tasting room of Native Flora for lunch and a wine tasting. While enjoying views of the Willamette Valley that stretched on for miles we tasted our way through some of Native Flora’s best wines and enjoyed the story behind each bottle from Scott Flora. Saving the best for last Scott brought out a bottle of his limited production 2015 Cuvée Libertus! and he completely wowed us with this sparkling pour. This Extra Brut Sparkling is made by hand, a true Methode Champenoise, and was so refreshing and unique in flavor that when lunch was over may of us (including myself) lined up to purchase a bottle of this sparkling gem. No tasting notes here on this wine as I was so wrapped up in enjoying the glass that I did not take time to do anything else but enjoy the view, the company and the shimmering wine in my glass. If given the opportunity I would say snag a bottle of this sparkling as quick as you can.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
This post is sponsored by Cascade Ice and all products were provided. Photographs, thoughts and opinions are my own.
I first discovered Cascade Ice products when I moved to Washington State over 12 years ago. It started with their Zero Calorie Naturally Flavored Sparkling Water and then when their Organic Sparkling Water came on the market I knew I had found a new favorite beverage. Recently I became curious when I heard about Cascade Ice’s new product, a Flavored Caffeinated Sparkling Water. To be honest I gave up soda and other sugary drinks last year and I have to admit that sometimes I miss that caffeine boost in the afternoon. With my busy photography and freelance writing business I need all of the energy that I can get.
When most of my day is spent outdoors in nature, I really appreciate the Organic Flavor and Organic Caffeine in this new Sparkling Water.
Unique Beverage Company was established in 2001 by local life-time Washingtonians Mike Broadwell and Mark Christensen. Family owned and operated with more than 85 years combined experience in the bottling and beverage business, they developed Cascade Ice Sparkling Water. Many of the employees today have been with them from the beginning. From still water, to sparkling water, to sparkling water with caffeine, and a few things in the middle, they are always thinking about new and innovative products.
Recently I took a road trip up to the North Cascade National Park and drove the Cascade Loop Highway with my family. I thought it would be a great opportunity to try all four flavors, Grapefruit, Citrus Twist, Black Raspberry, and Pomegranate Mango while enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Turns out it was a great alternative to an afternoon cup of coffee since the weather was in the 90-degree range.
These new drinks consist of only three ingredients: Carbonated Water, Natural Organic Flavor, and Organic Caffeine (derived from Organic Green Coffee Beans) giving you the #powerof3.
It is always important for me to make my go-to source of hydration throughout the day water, but sometimes you just want to enjoy something with a bit of fizz and flavor. This is when I enjoy a chilled can of Cascade Ice’s Caffeinated Sparkling Water the most, and although all the flavors are refreshing, I really love the flavor of the Organic Black Raspberry.
On a recent photo shoot, I brought some Cascade Ice Caffeinated Sparkling water with me to photograph and enjoy on a hot summer day. While setting up a shot a woman and her dog walked by and comment on the beautiful day, I replied that it was just a perfect PNW day and we struck up a conversation. Soon she asked what I was doing and I told her about my photography business and showed her the products that I was shooting that day. Well as often happens I asked if I could photograph her dog and her by the lake and she agreed, then I paid her in kind with a can of the new Sparkling Water. Needless to say she was thrilled and so was I.
The nice thing about this new sparkling water is that it is perfect if you are trying to cut out sugar and artificial ingredients from your daily diets. Plus, they’re great for a hike, outdoor picnic or just to add some flavor and sparkle to your day. The Cascade Ice Caffeinated Sparkling Water has been great during the hotter Pacific Northwest summer days, especially after a long day of work outside. Really Refreshing and did I mention Zero Calories!
You can find the new Cascade Ice Caffeinated Sparkling Water in local stores in the PNW, such as Albertson’s, Bartell’s, QFC and Safeway as well as in selected stores in several other states. This is a new product so if you don’t see it in a store near you, Ask your favorite store to stock Cascade Ice with Caffeine.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
Walla Walla Valley Wine Country in Washington state draws thousands of wine loving tourists each year with its 140 wineries, nationally recognized Pacific Northwest cuisine, and a wine country charm that is unlike anywhere else in the United States. Walla Walla offers access to an abundance of outdoor recreation, and an impressive local arts & entertainment scene. I have shared other Walla Walla wineries and wine experiences in the past, and since we are still celebrating Washington Wine Month I wanted to give a quick shout out to one more Walla Walla winery that warrants a visit when in the WW Valley.
As a teenager in the early 1980’s founding Winemaker Eric Dunham discovered his love for wine as he helped himself and enjoyed his parent’s international wine collection. Even a change of wine cellar locks could not stop Eric from finding new ways to sample the cellar’s offerings much to his parents dismay. This self introduced wine loving journey continued as Eric enjoyed numerous trips to Napa Valley over the years with a final declaration that what he wanted to do most with his life was to make wine. With a plan in place Eric worked at Hogue Cellars in Prosser, WA on a 6 month internship and soon after he was hired at L’Ecole No. 41 as their assistant winemaker. Eric began making small lots of Dunham wine at L’Ecole with winemaker Marty Clubb’s blessing and 1995 marked the first bottling of Dunham Cabernet Sauvignon. The rest, as they say, is history after Eric was introduced to David and Cheryll Blair who shared Eric’s passionate pursuit of great wines.
Today Dunham Cellars invites people to their welcoming tasting room just outside of Walla Walla to try their current releases and share more about the winery’s history. During my visit I not only got to taste some of their wines but I was given a behind the scenes tour of the winery including a peak into their impressive Wine Library.
Who wouldn’t want to take home some of these library collections!
I am a big fan of Dunham Cellars red wines, especially Three Legged Red which is currently in my cellar. However, it was their selection of whites which completely WOWed me. I am continuing to find myself stepping into the role of a Washington State White Wine advocate.
I was instantly charmed by Dunham Cellars beautiful 2016 Late Harvest Riesling.
This stunning 2016 vintage Late Harvest Riesling grabs you attention instantly with its soft amber color even before you take a sip. For me this wine felt like Fall in a glass with spectacular notes of honey dipped pears and sweet spices. I imagined enjoying this wine with a slice of whip cream topped pumpkin pie and I am sure that is exactly what I will pair it with something this coming holiday season. The rich flavor of this wine was so beautifully rounded and delivered a lovely long finish that as I write this and remember the flavor I wish I had purchased more than one bottle. This 100% Riesling was made from grapes grown in Lewis Estate Vineyard in the Columbia Valley and is 100% stainless.
Walla Walla Wine Country never fails to amaze me with its sprawling landscape and unique Washington Wineries. I hope your travels through this wine region, you stop in at Dunham Cellars and get a taste of some true Walla Walla wine making history.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.