Wine Down Eugene

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View of the rolling hill vineyards from the Stoller tasting room

Wine Down Eugene October 9-15

A few weeks ago, I helped harvest Pinot Gris grapes at Kramer Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon for their annual Oenocamp, and I wrote about my experience on a previous Wine Down Eugene; as well as, on my website, WineJulia.com.

During that same trip to Kramer Vineyards, which is about a two hour drive from Eugene, I was lucky enough to be able to stay two nights in one of the three gorgeous guest homes at Stoller Family Estate, located about 30 minutes from Kramer Vineyards, in Dayton.

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Our welcome gift in the guest cottage was thoroughly enjoyed on the back patio while watching a stormy sky above the Dundee Hills.

The luxury of wine country lodging in a home away from home simply can’t be beat.  Within walking distance to the winery and tasting room, the Cottage by the Pond is a cozy three bedroom house that’s welcoming and beautifully decorated.  A living room with a fireplace, a full kitchen, a dining room, a backyard brick patio and a welcome bottle of Stoller Pinot Noir are just a few of the impressive amenities.

Located on the southern slopes of the Dundee Hills, Stoller Family Estate was once the largest turkey farm in Oregon.  In 1993, the turkey industry ceased and the sloping hills, rocky terrain and low yielding soils that graced the Stoller farm looked to be an ideal location for a world-class vineyard.  In 1995, the first twenty acres of grapes were planted (ten to Pinot Noir and ten to Chardonnay), and they have expanded over the years to a total of 180 acres under vine, consisting mainly of Pinot Noir.  In 2005, Stoller became the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified winery in the United States.  Gravity flow winemaking techniques, heating and cooling efficiency and waste-water reclamation all play a part in reducing negative environmental impact.

View of the rolling hill vineyards from the Stoller tasting room
View of the rolling hill vineyards from the Stoller tasting room

An absolute gem in the Willamette Valley, the tasting room at Stoller is simply stunning.  Large garage-style doors open up to a patio and lawn with a beautiful view, giving the inside of the tasting room an outdoorsy feeling.  Adirondack chairs strewn about the lawn invite wine enthusiasts to stay a while, and disc golf is just feet away. Wavy wood ceilings that mimic the rolling hills and a sleek modern tasting bar resemble art in their form and function – it’s truly an incredible place to enjoy a glass of wine.

On the patio just off the tasting room, I was able to sit down with Stoller winemaker of ten years, Melissa Burr, for a stellar wine tasting and a tour of the gravity flow state-of-the-art winery – what Melissa likes to call, “her kitchen.”

We tasted nine wines in all: six Pinot Noirs with vintages ranging from 2008 to 2011, a 2012 Riesling and two contrasting Chardonnays. Included are notes from my absolute favorites – the 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2012 Estate Exclusive Riesling (keeping in mind that all nine were excellent).

A vertical tastin of 2008, 2009 and 2010 Stoller Pinot Noirs. Fabulous.
A vertical tasting of 2008, 2009 and 2010 Stoller Pinot Noirs. Fabulous.

Stoller Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2010: Balanced and delicate, yet big, juicy and lush – this Pinot is outstanding.  Berry, earth and violet aromas are opulent and alluring.  Seamless layers of bright red fruits, earth and fall spices flow from the front of the palate to the back, where solid acidity and spice linger on the graceful, long lasting finish.

Stoller Family Estate Exclusive Riesling 2012: I loved the tropical key lime and orange zest aromas highlighted by the sweetness of stone fruit.  On the palate, however, there is no sweetness at all – it’s crisp, clean, focused and very dry with gorgeous, zippy acidity that gives it perfect balance.  My kind of Riesling.

Follow me over to my award-winning website, WineJulia.com for notes on the other stellar wines we tasted; as well as, a photo essay of the Stoller winery tour and my wonderful stay in the Cottage by the Pond.

Visit Stoller Family Estate at 16161 NE McDougall Road, Dayton, OR 97114.  Check out Stoller’s new mobile tasting room app – simply go to tastestoller.com. Be sure to click on the 720 degree tours, it’s a great way to virtually experience the tasting room and vineyard.

 

Julia has been in the wine industry for nearly 20 years. First through creating European wine tours, then opening her own wine bar, Julia loves writing about food & wine on her website, WineJulia.com.

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