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Willamette Valley Vineyards Gewurztraminer 1997
A combination of determination and extraordinary people has brought Willamette Valley Vineyards from a bold idea to one of the region's leading wineries, earning the title "One of America's Great Pinot Noir Producers," from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
The “budwood” of Willamette Valley Vineyards began long before its founding in 1983 by vintner Jim Bernau. His Dad was hired by a California winemaker to secure the first winery license in Oregon since Prohibition. Jim’s Dad allowed him small tastes of Richard Sommer’s wine, lighting a path that led Jim from home winemaking to studies at UC Davis and eventually Beaune, France.
In 1983, Jim cleared away an old pioneer plum orchard in the Salem Hills and hand-watered his first plantings using 17 lengths of 75’ garden hose.
Jim's vision of organizing the support of wine enthusiasts to build a winery that would produce world-class wines through shared ownership has resulted in more than 16,000 owners. The winery's Common (WVVI) and Preferred (WVVIP) are traded on the NASDAQ.
The winery sources all of its barrel-aged Pinot Noir from its estate vineyards and practices environmentally sustainable farming. All of the vineyards have been certified sustainable through LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture and Enology) and Salmon-Safe programs since 1997.
One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a Mediterranean climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and winter.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. Silty, loess soils are found in the Chehalem Mountains.
Gewürztraminer is an expressive and aromatically distinctive white grape variety. It is considered a noble variety in the Alsace region of France, and can produce beautiful wines in the mountainous Alto Adige region of north-eastern Italy. With the notable exception of the Anderson Valley, most regions of California are too warm for Gewürztraminer’s low potential acidity, but it has done particularly well in more northerly, cooler regions of North America such as British Columbia, Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, and New York's Finger Lakes.
In the Glass
Gewürztraminer is bold and highly aromatic, with intense flavors of lychee, rose petal, ginger, musk, exotic spice, smoke, pineapple, apricot kernel and peach. Wines range from bone dry to quite sweet and its naturally low acidity is offset by high levels of skin-derived phenolics, which in addition to aromatics, provide weight and a good structural grip.
Gewürztraminer’s natural spiciness makes it a great ally for flavorful cuisine, such as Indian, Middle Eastern, or Moroccan fare. It is also excellent with dense, oily fish like salmon, swordfish and mahi-mahi, and works well with a wide range of meats and charcuterie. Gewürztraminer truly shines with classic Alsatian dishes like choucroute, Quiche Lorraine and anything egg-based.
Because of its floral perfume and tendency towards slight sweetness, Gewürztraminer makes for an excellent gateway wine. For those who have been introduced to wine through Moscato or other sweet wines, Gewürztraminer can serve as the perfect bridge towards an appreciation for dry whites.