When we were up in Willamette Valley, Oregon. we attended the Uncommon Wine Festival at Vista Hills Vineyard. Vista Hills Winemaker and GM, Dave Petterson took a little time out of a busy day in the cellar to talk with me about the origins of the event before we traveled up to the festival.

John and Nancy McClintock, the owners of Vista Hills started planting grapes in 1997. They started as many vineyard owners do, simply as growers. Around 2006 they started thinking about making wine and building their own label and tasting room. They brought on Dave Petterson as their GM and Winemaker to do just that in 2007.

Dave has been part of the Oregon Wine community for 20 years and he has always seen it as a supportive community. As a small winery, they were constantly looking at ways to get their wines out there and with the tight wine community that the Willamette Valley was at the time (and still is),they knew lots of people who were looking for the same thing.

In 2000 there were 139 Wineries in Oregon, in 2007 about 350 and today 725.

(Information from Oregon Wine Industry Statistics from the Oregon Wine Board)

In 2010 Vista Hills started the “Uncommon Wine Festival” to give themselves and other small producers they knew, a venue to get their wines tasted and seen.

This is a supportive wine community. Producers are generally smaller, in fact 70% of all Oregon Wineries produce 5,000 cases or less annually.

(A little perspective…there are producers in California who make more wine annually than the entire state of Oregon)

Quality has always been really important here. You will notice this in the labeling. Federal Regulations through the TTB allow for a bottle to be labeled from a place if 75% comes from that place. In Oregon, if it says Oregon on the label 100% of those grapes must be from Oregon. With specific AVA listing on a label, the Federal Government says 85% while Oregon says 95%. Same with Varietal labeling. Over most of the world the standard is 75% of a variety in a wine and you can call it by that name. In Oregon, they upped that to 90%. In Oregon, quality matters.

(Information from Oregon Wine Industry Statistics from the Oregon Wine Board)

The winemakers who participate in the event come from all over the Willamette Valley. Most, but not all, are sourcing fruit. I have to admit that I love this. This gives you the opportunity to try different wines that may come from the same vineyard and see a different interpretation of that fruit by another winemaker.

Dave will be pouring what he calls his “backwards” wines at the event, his orange wine and his white pinot noir. His orange wine he has a love/hate relationship with (orange wines can be notoriously difficult). It is a white wine made in a red style, while the white pinot noir is a red wine made in a white style. He didn’t think he would continue making the orange wine after the first year, but the response from their club to both of these wines has been terrific. I love hearing that there is an interest in these more adventurous wines.

The festival last year was so large and busy, that they expanded it to 2 days this year, running Saturday July 7th and Sunday July 8th.

A Cheerful Note Cellars, Fossil & Fawn, Leah Jorgensen Cellars, Esther Glen Farm & Winery, Joyful Noise, Maloof, and Libertine!

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Here’s a little from their press release:

“UWF has become a Treehouse Tasting Room tradition and one of the most anticipated events we host all year,” said Dave Petterson, winemaker and general manager at Vista Hills Vineyard. “As a small producer in a big industry, we understand the importance of deserved exposure and creating wines that truly stand out. The UWF excels on both accounts.”

While Pinot Noir will make a prominent showing at the UWF, other varietals like Gamay Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Gewürztraminer will make appearances, often crafted in experimental fashions. Guests can sample wines and purchase bottles to take home. Accompanying the wine will be bento from Phat Cart PDX. Vista Hills will be pouring some of its own micro-production offerings as well, including two vintages of its signature Pinot Gris Rosé Orange wine and the Fool’s Gold Blanc de Pinot Noir.

The Uncommon Wine Festival is a launch pad of sorts, having featured many labels on the cusp of success and expansion. Past featured labels include Teutonic Wine Company, Fausse Piste, Love & Squalor, Jackalope Wine Cellars, Guillen Family Wines, Johan Vineyards and many more.

You can visit the Vista Hills site for information on this and all of their events. But for the quick details the event runs from 11-4 both days and the $35 tasting fee covers samples sips from several wines from each of the producers. Come early, cause wines may run out! Also Phat Cart Asian Fusion will have short ribs and bento bowls for sale when you get hungry!

Sunday July 8th will also be the Wine Country ½ Marathon starting and ending at Stoller in the Dundee Hills. They will be pouring at that event also and look to see many of the participants at the Uncommon Wine Event later that day! So it will be a full day of great events in Oregon Wine Country!

We look forward to bringing you interviews and discussions with some of the winemakers from this event. So check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles . You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Video’s from the Festival