Driving southward towards the Mid Willamette Valley I spent a couple of days touring wineries in the Eola-Amity AVA (about an hour south of Portland). The AVA is anchored in the Southeast by the state capital of Salem and contains over 33 wineries.
A distinguishing characteristic of this AVA is the Van Duzer Corridor. The corridor is a gap in the Western coastal mountain range of the Willamette valley which lets the cool Pacific Ocean maritime air flow into the AVA. Besides making for many breezy days, the winds help dry out the vineyards which controls mildew and rot. It also drops the nighttime temperatures about 28° F. which helps the grapes to retain acidity.
Cristom Vineyards 6905 Spring Valley Rd
Family run winery with the estate wines named after the family matriarchs, Dustin in the tasting room provided an excellent tasting experience the day we visited.
2014 Pinot Noir “Mt Jefferson”: A blend of grapes from each estate, medium purple, barnyard on the nose, silky black fruit with mint notes, a good grip and silky tannins on the finish.
2013 Pinot Noir “Estate”: Combines barrels from all four of their estate Pinot Noir vineyards, Medium red, sour cherry, dark chocolate and menthol on the nose, moderate fruit, dusty tannins and good balance.
2014 Pinot Noir “Eileen Vineyard”: Medium purple, pretty nose of barnyard and dark chocolate, silky pretty fruit of red licorice and dark chocolate, great balance, long finish.
2014 Syrah: Dark red to black with a purple rim, black leather on the nose, big mouthful of roast meat, slate on the dark fruit, great balance.
Van Duzer Vineyards 11975 Smithfield Rd
2015 Pinot Gris: Medium gold, tropical fruits on the nose, crisp with big lime notes on the finish.
2013 Pinot Noir “Dijon Blocks”: A blend of six Pinot noir clones, medium to light purple, barnyard and menthol notes on the nose, chewy black licorice, tight red cherry fruit.
2012 Pinot Noir “Bieze Vineyards”: Medium purple, sweet red licorice on the nose, red licorice fruit followed by crisp red fruit on the finish.
Saint Innocent Winery 5657 Zena Rd
Winery had a “sip and savor” wine tasting option where 3 very tasty appetizers are served with wine pairings.
2015 Pinot Noir “Villages Cuvée”: A blend from five vineyards, medium purple, cherry jam on the nose, red cherry fruit, moderate tannins and acids.
2013 Pinot Noir “Zenith Vineyard”: Light brick, perfume of sour fruit, bright red cherry fruit, moderate acids.
2013 Pinot Noir “Freedom Hill”: Medium purple, walnuts on the nose, bright dusty fruit, crisp finish.
Bethel Heights Vineyards 6060 Bethel Heights Rd
Winery established in 1977, all wines produced from estate owned vineyards.
2014 Chardonnay “Justice Vineyard”: Medium gold, big nose of tropical fruits, pineapple and oak with creamy lemon custard on the fruit and roasted nuts on the firm finish.
2013 Pinot Noir “Justice Vineyard”: Medium to dark brick with stewed plums and crushed black fruit on the nose, tight black cherry fruit followed by firm tannins.
2014 Pinot Noir “Flat Block”: Medium purple, pencil shavings on the nose, juicy plums on the fruit, minerals and red licorice on the finish, balanced.
Willamette Valley Vineyards 8800 Enchanted Way SE
The vineyard is a few minutes south of the city of Salem, just outside the AVA boundary, huge building on top of a hill with many tasting rooms, a restaurant and nice views.
2013 Pinot Noir “Dundee Hills”: Brick in color, barnyard and sour cherry notes on the nose, black licorice on the fruit, moderate acids and a long finish.
2013 Pinot Noir “Chelahem Mts”: Brick in color, pretty perfume of tree bark and black licorice, silky fruit with earth notes, chewy red leather and a bright finish.
2015 Pinot Noir “Founders Reserve”: Medium red, plum and menthol on the nose, silky, chewy black cherry and leather fruit, bright acids at the end.