The Prince of Pinot

August 27, 2017


I spent ten days on the Pinot Trail in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in late July and there were three words on everyone’s mind: heat, Chardonnay, and (the) French. There were a number of other trends noted as well including,

(1) the proliferation of Oregon wineries (now at 702, a 45% increase in the last seven years);

(2) the decreasing labor pool (Oregon winegrowers must compete with hazelnuts, blueberries, Christmas trees, and many other crops) creating more interest in mechanical viticulture including harvesting;

(3) the increasing popularity of wine tourism in the Willamette Valley has led to a blitz of wine touring companies plying the Hwy 99 corridor and construction of a new 36-room boutique hotel in McMinnville, the Atticus Hotel, scheduled to open in 2018, that will have Portland-based Toro Bravo Inc’s “Third n Tasty” restaurant by restaurateurs John and Renee Gorham;

(4) the upsurge in investment in Oregon vineyards and wineries by large corporations such as Jackson Family Wines (see photo below of the old and new – in the foreground an old grain silo in a field adjacent the new Jackson Family Wines soon to open 68,245 square-foot winery on the Evergreen International Aviation’s corporate headquarters’ campus near the McMinnville Municipal Airport;

(6) and finally, the solar eclipse for which many wineries in the Willamette Valley were perfectly positioned for viewing of this rare event.