Founder Jim Bernau traveled with the Oregon Governor's Delegation to Burgundy in the 1980s to seek out French clones to improve our state's Chardonnay quality. These vines were brought back and quarantined at Oregon State University before being propagated for use in Oregon vineyards. Naturally derived Dijon Clones from France being planted in the Willamette Valley was one of the greatest tipping points in Oregon wine quality.
On the Nose: The bouquet opens with aromas of tropical fruit like pineapple and papaya, crème brûlée and honey.
On the Palate: A creamy medium-bodied sip offering flavors of lemon, lime and baking spices, with a vibrant acidity.
Food Pairings: Pair with seafood dishes like grilled halibut over peaches, seafood linguine, chicken pot pie or creamy soups, rice or potato dishes, fresh salads with vinaigrettes and hard cheeses such as aged white cheddar.
Peak Drinkability: 2021 - 2028
Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Vineyard in the Salem Hills
Willamette Valley AVA
In 1983, with the encouragement from winemakers making their move from California, Jim cleared an old pioneer plum orchard in the Salem Hills, hidden underneath scotch broom and blackberry vines to plant Pinot Noir. Unable to afford drip irrigation, he watered the vines by hand using 17 lengths of 75’ garden hose to get the grapelings through their first summer.
Eola-Amity Hills AVA
Dick and Betty O’Brien married in 1967 and began building a life together on Betty’s family’s farm. Dick served as a middle school teacher and Betty became the Executive Director of the Santiam Girl Scouts. After a trip to Germany in 1980 where they stayed with a family that grew wine grapes, they returned to Oregon inspired and eager to plant a vineyard of their own. Betty’s parents, Elton and Peggy Ingram, turned over five acres of the farm for them to plant grapevines. They planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in 1983, the same year that Jim Bernau, Betty's friend and college classmate, planted our Estate Vineyard in the Salem Hills. Their vineyard grew over the years from five acres to more than 60 acres in the east-southeast slopes of the Eola Hills and was named one of Oregon’s top ten vineyards by Wine Press Northwest. The elevation rises from 250-500 feet, and the vineyard soil is primarily Jory and Nekia. Upon the O'Briens' retirement in 2007, the vineyard was contracted under a long-term lease to Willamette Valley Vineyards. Retirement allowed Dick and Betty O'Brien to complete a beautiful 1.5-acre garden on the property.
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