New York (Finger Lakes)
Riesling, more than any white varietal, speaks to place. Oregon’s uniquely cool climate, naturally low yields, and ancient volcanic and marine sedimentary soils give unique character to the wines crafted by its small, family winemakers.
Riesling has been an integral part of the modern Oregon wine industry from the beginning in the early 1960s when the UC-Davis grad Richard Sommer moved north from California and planted in the Oregon’s cool Umpqua Valley.
Much of the Riesling industry is now based in the Willamette Valley, a cooler valley still. Thirty years ago as much as 23% of Oregon’s production was Riesling. Although Riesling is a much lower percentage than that today due to the explosion of Pinot Noir in the state, there is even more passion and focus on Riesling, plus huge growth over the last decade—admittedly from a small base.
More than 40 producers take advantage of the naturally late-ripening, low alcohol, white fruit and flower-accented, firm-but-not-screeching acidic character of the fruit from the region’s cool climate.
Riesling grape growing mirrors Oregon’s conservative precision used on Pinot Noir, while relatively high tech winemaking is protective of fruit finesse while being transparent to terroir. This is especially true as mature plantings from the prior halcyon days of Riesling are rediscovered and as the ageability of early bottlings is appreciated.
The finished style is mainly on the dry side of the IRF scale, with 60+% dry or medium dry, but with a full range through to botrytised dessert stylings.
Cool climate, acid, ripe-but-not-overripe fruit, low alcohol, and passionate, small-scale winemakers characterize Oregon’s Riesling. Oregonians subscribe to the view that Riesling is where many consumers begin to learn the magic of wine, and where sophisticated wine drinkers return to complete their journey.
A to Z – A to Z Wineworks was started in 2002 by four friends, Oregon wine industry veterans, Deb Hatcher (Eyrie), Bill Hatcher (Domaine Drouhin Oregon), Sam Tannahill (Archery Summit) and Cheryl Francis (Chehalem). A to Z remains true to the dual mission of offering Aristocratic Wines at Democratic Prices. A commitment to excellence is matched by a belief in fair value and sustainability in business as well as farming and a drive to offer the highest quality for the best value. ATOZWINEWORKS.COM
BRANDBORG – Voted 2015 Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest, Brandborg Wines is one of just six wineries in the town of Elkton in Southern Oregon. Through the years, Brandborg wines have gained a following, thanks to winemaker Terry Brandborg’s dedication to cool-climate varieties such as Riesling. Brandborg 2011 Riesling was one of the top wines in the Judgment of Geyserville tasting that compared Rieslings from six different North American regions. BRANDBORGWINE.COM
BROOKS – Brooks Wines is the living legacy of Jimi Brooks, a visionary Portland native who came to wine through his passion for history and philosophy. After traveling the world and experiencing the hard work of winemaking in Burgundy, Jimi returned to Oregon and found a burgeoning wine world. He devoted the rest of his life to holistic farming and winemaking in the Willamette Valley, showcasing the region’s potential for expressive, complex and balanced Riesling and Pinot Noir. Nestled high in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills, Brooks Wines has been crafting pure and elegant riesling and pinot noir since 1998. Family owned and operated, Brooks is committed to organic and biodynamic farming in vineyards, respecting vineyard individuality, a gentle approach to winemaking, and endlessly promoting how beautiful riesling and pinot noir can be grown and produced in Oregon. BROOKSWINE.COM
ELK COVE – Elk Cove Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon, was founded in 1974 by Pat and Joe Campbell in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Winemaker Adam Campbell joined forces with his parents in 1995 and Elk Cove remains proudly family owned. Adam oversees six vineyard sites with 350 planted acres. The Campbell’s goal has always been hand-crafted, estate-grown cool-climate wines that rival the best in the world. As a second-generation winemaker and a 4th generation Oregon farmer, Adam Campbell is proud to continue that tradition. ELKCOVE.COM
WILLAMETTE VALLEY – A combination of determination and extraordinary people has brought Willamette Valley Vineyards from an idea to one of the region’s leading wineries. Founder Jim Bernau purchased the estate site in 1983. Their approach is to grow, by hand, the highest quality fruit using careful canopy management and yield balance, and to achieve wines that are truly expressive of the varietal and the place where they are grown. They practice environmentally sustainable farming and were part of the founding of the Low Input Viticulture and Enology Program (LIVE). They ferment and barrel each vineyard lot separately and display the best of these in their single vineyard designate bottlings. Their stylistic emphasis is on pure varietal fruit characters, with attention to depth, richness of mouthfeel, and balance. The wines are truly a collaborative effort of the entire vineyard and winemaking staff. WVV.COM