Vista Hills Vineyard and the Uncommon Wine Festival 2018

Sunset over the vines at Vista Hills Vineyard in the Dundee Hills

Vista Hills was the setting for the “Uncommon Wine Festival” that we’ve been talking about so much. This years was the 9th annual and before heading down there we had a chance to speak with Dave Petterson, Vista Hills Winemaker about the festival and how it got started.

The Uncommon Wine Festival at Vista Hills Vineyard – The Mega Mix

The day itself was spectacular, not too hot, not too cold. The vineyards were beautiful, the wines were flowing, there was even a group on horseback that stopped by the festival, before continuing their ride through the vineyards.  And of course there were makers of “uncommon” wine there to talk and taste with.  Enjoy our Mega Mix of the day!

While we couldn’t catch Dave during the festival, we did have a chance to taste a few of his “Uncommon Wines”

2017 Fool’s Gold Blanc de Noir

100% Pinot Noir, this blanc de Noir gets pressed and gets no time on the skin, which allows for this lovely light coppery color. They fement it with a champagne yeast. They only made 121 cases of this wine.

The grapes come from their newest vineyard block that was planted just 10 years ago in 2008. Block L sits are around 720 feet. This is all Dijon clone 115.

2016 Rumble Seat Pinot Gris Rose

Rumble Seat 2016 Pinot Gris Rosé from Vista Hills

Rumble Seat 2016 Pinot Gris Rosé from Vista Hills

They call it a Pinot Gris Rosé, but it is really made in the style of an Orange Wine. You can’t find this on their site anymore. It is incredibly popular with their wine club and disappears quickly. Luckily, we snagged a bottle at the festival. As with all their bottles, it comes with a story.

Rumble Seat 2016 Pinot Gris Rosé from Vista Hills

Rumble Seat 2016 Pinot Gris Rosé from Vista Hills label detail and story

2017 Duchess Pinot Noir Rose

Duchess 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé from Vista Hills

Duchess 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé from Vista Hills

This wine is truly “Uncommon” the nose is cotton candy. Not what I normally look for in a wine, but…it was weird and fascinating. So, yeah, we left with a bottle of that too. Here’s it’s story.

Duchess 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé from Vista Hills label and story

Duchess 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé from Vista Hills label and story

The day was truly spectacular and the opportunity to meet and speak with all of these winemakers was once in a lifetime, well, until next year and the 10th annual “Uncommon Wine Festival”.

Take a visit to our page filled with all the fabulous winemakers that we met at the Uncommon Wine Festival filled with photos and interviews.

And for more information on Vista Hills Vineyard visit their website at http://vistahillsvineyard.com/

Update:  As we were finishing up this post yesterday in preparation to release this morning, the news broke that the Coppola Family was buying Vista Hills.  You can read about the acquisition here  https://www.kgw.com/article/money/francis-ford-coppola-buys-vista-hills-vineyard-in-dayton/283-607159415

We wish everyone at Vista Hills all the best and thank them for creating an Amazing Event with the Uncommon Wine Festival, as well as for creating beautiful wines and a magical place in the “Treehouse” to taste them.

read all about the Winemakers

Don’t forget to check back with us here at Crushed Grape Chronicles as we continue to explore Oregon Wine Country. And don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Esther Glen Farm and Winery with Ryan Pickens

Vista Hills Uncommon Wine Festival Ryan Pickens

We met Ryan Pickens of Esther Glen Farm and Winery at the Uncommon Wine Festival at Vista Hills Vineyard, and had a chance to taste his wines.  The Uncommon Wine Festival gave us an “uncommon” occasion to meet and speak with several newer winemakers, who have smaller labels.  It was an opportunity to taste many interesting wines and hear the stories first hand of how they were conceived and made.  This was the 9th Annual event, but it was Ryan’s first time at the festival.

A little bit on Esther Glen

The name comes from Esther and Glen who came to the Dundee Hills in the 1960’s to start their holistic farm and be self-sustaining.  In 1970 Craig Rathkey came to Esther Glen. He was farming with a 1950 Vintage Formal Cub tractor and a 1948 John Deer “M” tractor.  He restores old tractors, as well as antique clocks.  In 2015 Ryan Pickens met Craig Rathkey and now Ryan makes wine with the sustainably farmed grapes grown on the vineyard.  The Estate is 15 acres located on the Willamette Valley Floor across the street from Sokol Blosser.

Ryan Pickens, the winemaker

Esther Glenn Winemaker, Ryan Pickens

Esther Glenn Winemaker, Ryan Pickens

Ryan put his Marketing degree to use working for the Benzinger Family in Sonoma, CA selling wine.  It was there that he learned about sustainable and biodynamic farming.  Talking with the Benzingers, he got the itch to work on the other side of wine, in production. He started with a harvest internship and was hooked.

“That was in 2012 and I haven’t looked back since.  I went to New Zealand, Germany, Australia, during that time also, trying to find which wine I wanted to make for the rest of my life, and Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are those three and Oregon is that place, that I’ve really found my heart, so I moved here in 2015.”

He does still work full time making wine for somebody else, so this is a side project.

“Yeah so this is just so fun, and I feel so blessed to be able to do this. I never thought that I would actually be able to start my own label.”

We tasted the two wines that Ryan was pouring, the 2017 Pinot Gris and the 2016 Pinot Noir.  Both are own rooted.

Esther Glen_Wine Bottles

Esther Glen_Wine Bottles

2017 Esther Glen Pinot Gris

This is the 2nd vintage of Pinot Gris for them, they are just getting started.  The 2016 is sold out, so not so bad for their first vintage.

The nose is bright with meyer lemon and the then a little softer on the palate. This wine retails for $18.00

2016 Esther Glen Pinot Noir

This is the first vintage of Pinot Noir for them.  It is a mix of Pommard, 777, 115 and 667.  It is aged in 20% new oak.

 “(I was).. Trying to capture, so when I moved here this forest floor, this mushroom characteristic, that everyone was talking about, and happy to see that this is starting to blossom out like that .”

There was definitely forest floor on this wine as well as leather and cola on the palate.  This wine retails for $28.00

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On Sustainability and holistic farming

Coming from Benzinger where they farm biodynamically and then at Esther Glen where that was the original idea of Esther and Glen, the grapes here are farmed sustainably.  Certification will come eventually, but it is a process and a cost and the vineyard and winery are young.  Regardless the idea of holistic farming is important to Ryan.

“Yeah, so you want to give back to the land you know, who knows if we are going to be there for 10 or 20 years, but we want to make sure that that land is ready for the next person coming around.  So really you’re just taking care of it for the next generation.

Esther Glen does tastings by appointment only and you can reach them by phone at (503)583-0970 or email them at [email protected]

You can also find them online at EstherGlen.com

And on social media on Facebook  and Instagram

You can also read our piece on the Uncommon Wine Festival, with our interview with Dave Pettersen the Winemaker and CEO of Vista Hills who founded the event. We look forward to bringing you interviews and discussions with all of the winemakers from this event, as well as details and visits with wineries in each of the Willamette Valley AVAs.  So check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles  and don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And if you want to dive into details on the Willamette Valley, you can read our recent post Oregon’s Willamette Valley AVAs – a Primer

The 9th Annual Uncommon Wine Festival at Vista Hills

Willamette Valley Wine Country panorama

While we are visiting the Willamette Valley we will be attending 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.

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.

 

**Just released!  The list of Winemakers for the event include:

A Cheerful Note Cellars, Fossil & Fawn, Leah Jorgensen Cellars, Esther Glen Farm & Winery, Joyful Noise, Maloof, and Libertine!  (Expect to hear all about all of these winemakers when we return!  I’m off now to visit their sites and learn all I can about them!)

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!

 

***So we attended the event and it was spectacular!  Watch for a post detailing the event and for some in depth interviews with the amazing winemakers who where there!

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