OREGON WINE COUNTRY
Living in Oregon Wine Country is nothing short of remarkable. I try my best not to take it for granted, but when you see a snow-capped Mt. Hood, there are days when its splendor falls into the background of everyday life. Today, I want to share some 2022 Oregon highlights starting with how the 2022 vintage is shaping up, the International Pinot Noir Celebration being back in person after three years, and a winery you should put on your radar.
2022 VINTAGE AT A GLANCE
There is a saying amongst Oregonians, “Summer doesn’t start until July 5th.” 2022 is holding steadfast to this anecdote. Cool temperatures and 19.1 inches of rain during March, April, and May brought about a very late start to summer. Currently, 2022 is being compared to 2010 in terms and temperature and 18.9 inches of rain during the same period.
Low temperatures and rain aren’t the only curveballs Mother Nature is throwing at farmers this year. April saw snow and frost thrown into the mix. As a result, some vineyards lost as much as 90% of their young buds. Others lost 50%, while others in the higher elevations were fortunate to have no loss.
Bill Sanchez of Vino Vasai showing damage of the frost.
Here we are in August, and everything in the vineyards are finally taking shape! There have been some incredibly warm days for the vines to soak up the sun along with some cooler evenings, allowing the acidity in the grape to take form.
With such a late start to summer, tensions are a bit high looking forward to Harvest. The Willamette Valley is looking to start picking grapes around the second or third week in October. Unfortunately, it is around this time when the rain season starts to kick into high gear.
With 2022 following in the footsteps of the 2010 vintage, we should also remember how it that vintage was negatively viewed by many at the time. However, it is far from a bad year if you have tasted any wines from the 2010 vintage lately. These highly structured wines are stunning and are pretty impressive right now. So remember these little perils of wisdom in a couple of years when the 2022 vintage is released. Fingers crossed that Mother Nature doesn't throw any additional curveballs in August, September, and October.
INTERNATIONAL PINOT NOIR CELEBRATION
The last couple of years has been tough on social outings for everyone. As a result, 2022 has seen a substantial influx of in-person events. Returning to a sense of normalcy is welcomed on every level possible with winemaker dinners and wine festivals. This year was also the first time IPNC was in person since 2019.
If you are unaware of IPNC, it is the International Pinot Noir Celebration that started in 1985. Every year in July, wineries, and chefs throughout the globe converse in McMinnville, Oregon, for a three-day event exploring the depths of food and wine and, especially this year, making long-lasting friendships.
This year’s theme was “Through Rosé Colored Glasses,” focusing on Sparkling / Champagne. The Master of Ceremony, Philippe Andre, brought done with the house pouring Charles Heidsieck Champagne throughout the weekend. However, the three-day event wasn’t all about Philippe Andre. Attendees had the opportunity to explore wineries with an out-of-this-world lunch either Friday or Saturday. On the other day, it was all about wine education and tasting through 12 different Sparklings worldwide, from Oregon, Champagne, Australia, and Germany, to name a few.
IPNC 2022 Grand Dinner Friday Night
IPNC isn’t all about wine. Friday night was a grand dinner of four courses. Saturday night was Salmon Bake with more of a family-style dinner. It was incredible the amount of food and wine flowing those two nights.
Tickets for 2023 are on sale now! Please get your tickets before they run out at https://ipnc.org.
A WINERY TO PUT ON YOUR RADAR
It feels like wineries pop up all the time in Oregon. Trying to track where to go is a bit of a whirlwind. I enjoy going out into Wine Country as much as possible to explore new and unknown wineries.
One winery, in particular, to remember is Bledsoe McDaniels. It is a joint venture between former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe and winemaker Josh McDaniels. Before I go much further, this label does not fall within the celebrity wine category of producing wine just for the sake of it. Instead, Drew and Josh are all about creating the highest quality wines possible. Their philosophy is stellar wine starts in the vineyard.
Josh and Drew have been working together for several years producing exceptional Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon with Doubleback and another label called Bledsoe Family Winery, focusing on different grape varieties in Walla Walla. Bledsoe McDaniels extends their focus to include the Willamette Valley.
Last year they purchased a vineyard from long-time Viticulturist Mimi Casteel, known for her dedication to the land she farms. She believes the soil needs to be alive for wine to show a place of terroir in your glass. I was sad when I heard about Mimi selling her vineyard, but I have gotten to know Drew and Josh over the last year. They are committed to the land, the wine, and, more importantly, the people working for them to make all of this happen.
At an event earlier this summer, I tasted their 2021 Willamette Valley Chardonnay, 2019 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and the 2019 Lafore Syrah. All of them were delicious, with an excellent backbone for aging. You won't be disappointed if you can get your hands on some Lafore Syrah.
Coulee Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills
To learn more about Bledsoe McDaniels, visit their website https://bledsoemcdaniels.com and get on the waiting list for allocation.
Thank you for taking the time to read a small glimpse into what is happening in Oregon Wine Country. I hope the next time you see Mt. Hood in person or in a photo, it sparks a memory of Oregon summers starting in July, IPNC, and Bledsoe McDaniels.
International Wine Report
(aka @Weinnotes on the socials)