We were invited to visit L’Ecole No. 41 as media guests, as we have been working with them this year tasting and pairing with their portfolio of wines.
Utopia Vineyard, Lenne Estate & Bells Up Sponsored our visit as media guests, also. Our tastings were free and they provided us accommodations at the Utopia Cabin. No other compensation was received and all opinions remain our own.
On Day 10 we were up early having breakfast in Walla Walla and then headed out to spend the morning with Constance at L’Ecole No. 41. She took us out to their Seven Hills and Ferguson’s vineyards and then back to the School house to taste through some of their wines! You can read more about their vineyards and wines here.
The next morning we were up and out early to visit Lenne Estate and meet with owner and Winemaker Steve Lutz. We trudged up the hill to the Kill Hill Block of the vineyard. Man is it steep! Steve filled us in on the history of the estate and the poor pea vine soils, before leading us downhill to their stunning tasting room. The tasting room looks like a French cottage, it is enormously charming and quite honestly my favorite tasting room I have ever been in. Lavender grows on the side as well as trees and gardens…you really are transported. We sat out on the front deck to take in the vineyard views and enjoy a stunning charcuterie board while Steve talked us through the wines.
Our next stop was Bells Up, in the Chehalem Mountains. Dave & Sara Specter welcomed us and we headed out to the patio to take in the vineyard view. Michael was able to get the drone in the air and capture some vineyard shots.
They had prepared a delicious lunch for us to accompany our pairing. It felt like you were being welcomed into their home.
As we got into talking about the wines, Dave brought up musical analogies. You’ll remember our previous tastings of wines from Bells Up earlier this year.
Back to Utopia – I mean, who wouldn’t?
While our companions headed off, we headed back to the Utopia Tasting room to meet and Interview Dan. He showed us a bit out in the vineyard, but quite honestly, this was August and the heat in the Willamette was excessive. We quickly headed back into the cool tasting room and found a quiet spot for our interview.
Dan is the President of the Ribbon Ridge Winegrowers Association. The AVA was founded in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the growers came together to form an Association. Dan joined the bunch in the 90s. Most of these pioneers held similar beliefs in farming, but they were each headstrong and independent and it wasn’t until 2015 that they came together to put together their Statement of Principles, setting forth the path for water conservation, sustainability and philanthropy.
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