In a relatively short span, Willamette Valley wineries have made good on the tempting recipe of rich soils, mild climate and an extended growing season to produce world-class wines while leading the industry in sustainable practices.
Like the wines they produce, Willamette Valley vintners are bursting with character. Visit the valley’s cellars and tasting rooms in these insightful portraits of eighteen local winemakers who have helped shape the most recent chapters of Oregon’s wine story.
In a manner similar to others throughout Oregon, these winemakers blend passion with knowledge, intuition with experience and business acumen with a relentless pursuit of quality.
Overflowing with illustrations and color photographs, this book is a must for the resident, the traveler or the connoisseur.
I co-authored this collection of winemaker profiles with another Portland writer, Vivian Perry. And Viv’s cousin, Brooklyn artist Sarah Schlesinger, contributed an illustration of each winemaker. Plus, my wife, Lisa D. Holmes, provided many of the photographs. It was a challenging and interesting project.
I didn’t know much about wine when I got started, other than the fact that I preferred pinot noir (a good thing if you live in Oregon), but most of the wine I regularly drink is a bit too low on the price point to be made by the winemakers I interviewed. All of them make very high quality pinots, which means it has to be a pretty special occasion for me to get to drink any of them. But the winemakers were very approachable nonetheless.
I discovered that they come from everywhere — my group of winemakers hailed from Europe, New Zealand, and all over the U.S. — and almost everyone seemed happy to tell their stories about how their lives evolved to put them in a position to make wine, why they made that choice, and what it means to them today.