Just like the previous entry of this two-day trip, I have several comments about wineries and will have more later. I've separated what I have here with bold sub headlines. My trip to the Northwest has come to an end and I fly home Friday morning.
Jesse Lange and Lange Winery
A round-about connection between Lange Winery and Wabash College led to a morning with Jesse Lange of Lange Winery. The Lange Winery has one of the premier spots in the Dundee Hills overlooking the Willamette Valley with a terrific view of the Cascade Mountains.
Lange Winery was the subject of Brian Doyle's book "The Grail" ... essentially it was a year-in-the-life sort of thing that is a great read for any wine nut. It did well across the country.
Jesse gave me a tour of the facility while talking about the family's approach to wine, the wine industry, and reflected on the book.
Their wines are some of the best Pinot Noir you'll ever want to taste. But that's not just my opinion, Lange has gained wide praise. They are not at the top of the price scale by any means, but are clearly one of the state's leading producers.
Don and Wendy Lange, Jesse's parents, started the winery in 1987 just after pioneers like Erath, Adelsheim, and others.
The really impressive thing is how they put so much detailed effort into their wines. They work in very small batches to produce their wines. That is not the case at many wineries. But its also the advantage of buying your better wines at these smaller boutique wineries. They also pay particular attention to the 'terroir" or the land where the grapes are grown.
It really was just great to walk the grounds, then taste the wines with the man who's growing those grapes and making those wines.
I'm going to write an entire piece on Lange in the next week or so. And, I'll be writing a piece about Lange, The Grail, and how it relates to Wabash College sometime over the weekend. I'll link that here when it's live.
Now here is some really good news. Lange Wines are distributed in Indiana. I have the name of their distributor and am trying to find out where you can buy the wines in retail outlets. I did find it at Sahara Mart in Bloomington. I'll post something here when I get that information.
Now the bad news. Because of Indiana's insane shipping laws, Lange can not direct ship because they have a distributor here.
I have to note here how gracious and willing to answer questions Jesse was this morning. He was generous with his time and knowledge.
As noted, I'm going to have more on Lange. After two visits to the Valley, I think I can say its my favorite Pinot Noir.
Carlton, Oregon - It's About the Wineries
Many of the Willamette Valley's little towns are all about the wineries but perhaps none so much as Carlton with its population of about 1,500.
There are tasting rooms up and down all the streets, or so it seems. It's the home of Ken Wright wines - one of the Valleys pioneers. And this is for people of my age, it's also the home of Scott Paul wines - Scott Paul Wright! That name probably doesn't mean anything to anyone outside wine country. But, if I said "Shadow Stevens" would that ring a bell?
The famous disc jockey and Hollywood Squares celebrity is now a winery owner in Carlton. Unfortunately, they are only open on weekends and I was unable to taste their wines.
I did stop into The Tasting Room which pours Jay McDonald wines. Can you figure the logo out?
Think: "Old McDonalds Farm."
They also pour other wines there which is a great way to visit wine country in any of the major regions.
Lemelson Vineyards is a unique place in more ways than one. They have a beautiful and unique facility just northeast of Carlton. They have this incredible facility and tasting room but it is not open to the public. You have to have an appointment to taste the wines. I was hooked up Wednesday with a chance to visit by the tasting room manager at Four Graces.
The winery is owned and run by Eric Lemelson who was an environmental attorney. The winery markets itself as on the area's top tier wineries. They have a one of a kind "sorter" that can move up and down between rows of stainless steel vats that is just fascinating to see.
Eric Lemelson is the son of the late Jerome Lemelson, "one of the 20th century's most successful and prolific independent inventors. If you have a second click the link and read about him. He held patents on some of the most common items you see and use every day. As a matter of fact, only one man in U.S. history held more patents than Lemelson - a guy by the name of Thomas Edison.
But the wines are beautiful and their dedication to the environment and sustainable farming is top notch. They have a long stretch of solar panels next to the facility that provide up to 40 percent of the building's electrical needs.
It's a gravity flow winery, one of just a few in the state. That means just what it sounds like - the grapes, the juice follow gravity's course in making its way through the production cycle. It's old world style winemaking.
Penner Ash - A Well-Respected Winery
Last summer when I visited the Valley I had several winery people tell me Penner Ash was one of the spots not to miss. I didn't make it last time so I got there for my last wine stop of the trip.
They have one of the most beautiful tasting facilities I saw in Oregon. And they have an incredible location with a view rivaling that at the Lange Winery.
Their Pinot Noir was light in style but beautifully structured. They also poured for me a Dry Rose of Pinot Noir that was absolutely stunning! The most stunning thing was the fact the Rose sold for just $10.
Oregon Pinot Noir Wine Prices
A quick note about these wines, buying them, finding them, and the cost. I've tried to make sure I included a link to every winery in each entry. I'll keep reviewing this over the next couple of days. I thought it was more interesting here to share the wine country experience than alot of nuance about a lot of great wines.
Usually you can find on most websites whether they ship to Indiana direct or distribute. The price point is a particular sticking point for some people, but when you understand these are hand-crafted wines it just makes more sense. Most of the wineries I've written about the last two days have a Pinot Noir in the $25-$35 range, $35-$50; $50-$75 range.
That is a generalization, indeed, but one you'll find to be mostly true. More to come on these wineries from both day's blogs here and at least a column or two for the newspapers.
Many of these smaller, great-great wineries do not ship to Indiana because of our legislature's refusal to pass open border laws and get their hand out of lobbyist's pockets. So if you take any advice from my two days blogging form Oregon, it's try Oregon Pinot Noir!
It's late and I fly out tomorrow. Pick up a Pinot Noir for your weekend.
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