Stoller Family Estate

Wine Down Eugene

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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.

 

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene September 25 – October 1

A new era of architecturally stunning tasting rooms appears to be on the rise in Oregon wine country.  With recent visits to the contemporary and recently completed tasting rooms at both Stoller Family Estate and Sokol Blosser; along with, a hot-off-the-press news release on the brand new Saffron Fields Vineyards, tasting rooms with no options other than standing at the bar and tasting a few wines are a thing of the past.  These state-of-the-art tasting rooms are an absolute delight for the senses.

Stoller tasting room
Stoller Family Estate tasting room | photo: interiordesign.net

Not just visually stunning, but Stoller, Sokol Blosser and Saffron Fields tasting rooms were all built with sustainability in mind.  With a focus on having the least amount of impact on the environment, each of these new tasting rooms have special features that create environmentally sound atmospheres.  Each tasting room has art work and areas for wine enthusiasts to sit and enjoy a glass or bottle of wine while taking in the breathtaking views of Oregon’s wine country.

At Stoller Family Estate, where I had a chance to sit down with winemaker Melissa Burr for a spectacular tasting, sitting on the patio of the tasting room while looking out over the vineyards was simply magnificent. The design of the building, with large garage-style doors made entirely of glass and steel, welcome wine enthusiasts with a gorgeous view of the vineyards as blocks of vines roll up the hills beyond the tasting room.  Inside, the wood slatted ceiling rolls and tips from side to side, mimicking the rolling hills of the Stoller property.  The wood used for the remarkably striking ceiling was salvaged from the 2002 Southern Oregon Biscuit Fire, where nearly 500,000 acres were burned. A solar paneled roof was designed to handle 100 percent of the buildings power and energy, and a living roof just below the solar panels can be seen through windows inside the tasting room.

Sokol Blosser tasting room, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
The Main Room at Sokol Blosser | photo: sokolblosser.com

Sampling wine at the new Sokol-Blosser tasting room is just as magnificent as it is at Stoller. Second generation and now co-owners of Sokol Blosser, Alison and Alex Sokol Blosser, have followed in their mother’s footsteps (who built the first LEED certified winery in the U.S.) and aligned the new tasting room with Living Building Challenge – a new gold standard certification for sustainable building.  Designed to offer a dynamic visitor experience for wine lovers as well as followers of architecture and design, the new tasting room at Sokol Blosser literally pays homage to the source of its bounty, where guests can seamlessly enjoy the vineyards and landscape.

The building’s low profile lends the appearance of being a single level when in fact the structure is built both above and below ground, emulating the character of the grapevines while allowing for wine storage in a naturally cool cellar.  The exterior is united with the interior in part by the use of striated wood cladding, a motif derived from the vineyard rows and the region’s vernacular agricultural buildings.  The wood also surfaces all interior walls, floors and ceilings.

Sokol Blosser tasting room, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
The Kitchen at Sokol Blosser | photo: sokolblosser.com

A receptionist greets guests as they walk in, and there’s a special Wine Library where we were able to sit down and taste some of the outstanding Sokol Blosser wines, including their Evolution line of wines.  There’s a kitchen where cooking classes and special events can take place, and a special wine club members only area with private outdoor seating and bar to table service.  And just like Stoller, solar panels are used to power the entire facility.

Sticking to a similar theme as Stoller and Sokol Blosser, the brand new Saffron Fields Vineyards tasting room was also designed to flow with the landscape and vineyards that surround the artistically designed building.  Although I haven’i had the chance (yet) to visit Saffron Fields Vineyards, the focus of the design was to bring people and the environment together, and there’s even a restorative Japanese garden just outside the new tasting room – to inspire an atmosphere of contemplation and ease. 

Saffron Fields
Artist rendering of the new Saffron Fields Vineyard

Eugene architect, Richard Shugar of 2fORM Architecture, aimed to let the natural form and function of the site determine the structure of the finished project.  An old dairy barn that sat on the property where the tasting room is now, was logistically impossible to use as a winery, so the Douglas fir and cedar wood from the barn was salvaged and incorporated into the new facility.

Clearly, tasting rooms in Oregon wine country are becoming destinations; once you step foot into these stunning facilities, you won’t ever want to leave – wine lovers are encouraged to swirl, sip, savor and stay.

Follow me over to my award-winning website, WineJulia.com, to read about the fabulous wines I tasted at Stoller and Sokol Blosser.

 

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene September 18 – 24

KV barrels and vines
Kramer Vineyards

I just returned from the 2nd Annual Oenocamp at Kramer Vineyards, where I became part of the harvesting crew for a day.  Oenocamp takes place each year at the gorgeous hilltop vineyards at Kramer, where wine enthusiasts are given the chance to find out what it takes to produce sparkling wine at one of Oregon’s up and coming signature sparkling wine facilities.  With 30 years of Oregon winegrowing under their belts, the Kramer’s know what they’re doing when it comes to growing and producing fine Oregon wines.

Kim’s first success at producing a sparkling wine (from excess Chardonnay grapes) was at Salem’s St. Innocent Winery in 2006, where she had been working since 2000 – beginning in the tasting room.  Her time at St. Innocent encouraged her to think about pursuing a career in winemaking.  Kim joined the winemaking team at her family’s business, Kramer Vineyards, in 2008, and in 2009 the first Brut vintage was released.  In 2010, Kim worked harvest in Burgundy, France, and she brought her knowledge back home to Oregon and Kramer Vineyards, where she continues to produce not only excellent sparkling wine but still wine, as well.

KV Pinot Gris signAlthough the plan for Oenocamp was to pick the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used for the production of their sparkling wine, last week’s spike in heat caused an earlier than planned harvest of those particular grapes, so our Oenocamp group headed out to the vineyards to pick Pinot Gris.

With buckets and sheers in hand, after enjoying coffee and delicious cinnamon rolls from Maggie’s Buns, we headed into the many rows of vines at the top of the vineyards, where valley and vineyard views were simply breathtaking.  Our group of Oenocampers picked enough grapes to fill 12 bins, equaling about 5.5 tons, which went straight to the sorting line and into the press – enough for three press loads and nine hours of pressing juice.

KV bins of Pinot Gris
The fruit of our labor at Kramer Vineyards – Oenocamp

After the first press load was done, Kim showed off her sabering skills by slicing off the top of a Kramer Vineyards 2011 Brut with a machete, and we all toasted the 2013 vintage with a glass of the Brut; dry, crisp, refreshing and down-right delicious – a stellar sparkling wine for a harvest celebration.   Ambrosial quiche, salad, fruit and bread (also from Maggie’s Buns) were served up for lunch next to the vineyards, and we were able to enjoy both the 2010 and 2011 Brut sparkling wines.

Since Oenocamp started early in the morning on a Monday, we stayed the night before and the night after the event at one of three vacation homes at the gorgeous Stoller Family Estate, located in the heart of Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills.  Staying in Stoller’s Cottage at the Pond was an incredible experience and included an amazing tasting with Stoller winemaker Melissa Burr, Marketing Communications Manager, Betsy Hannnaford, and Stoller’s brand new Business Development Manager, James Falvey.  The one year old tasting room at Stoller is simply stunning.  Salvaged wood from a fire that took place in southern Oregon graces the ceilings and mimic the rolling hills of Dundee. A terrace just outside the floor to ceiling walls of windows (that lift up like garage doors) have views of the vineyard blocks as they gracefully climb up the rolling hills – it’s absolutely gorgeous.  As guests staying in the Cottage at the Pond, which can be booked through VRBO.com, we checked into our cozy house to find a welcome bottle of the 2009 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir.  Sitting under some tumultuous looking skies on the patio of the Cottage, we enjoyed every sip of the dark cherry, earthy, mushroomy, stellar Pinot Noir.

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Enjoying a delicious Pinto Noir at Stoller’s Cottage at the Pond

Follow me over to WineJulia.com for a fantastic photo essay of Oenocamp at Kramer Vineyards.  I’ll also be writing in detail about our time at Stoller and the many incredible wines we tasted during our stay.  Cheers.