Adelsheim Vineyard is one of nearly 100 global wineries featured in this year’s International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon.
MORE THAN 45 years ago, David Adelsheim arrived in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and began planting wine grapes.
He started with a 19-acre piece of land near the town of Newberg, in what is now the Chehalem Mountains American Viticultural Area. He didn’t choose this spot for any particular reason. And like many Oregon wine pioneers, he planted and sourced fruit from throughout the large valley that stretches from the Columbia River in the north clear down to Eugene.
Since launching his eponymous winery in 1978 (there were just 10 wineries in Oregon then), the focus has been on crafting wines from the broader Willamette Valley. In the past three years, Adelsheim has begun to reshape his focus, returning to his roots in a way by sharpening his efforts on fruit solely from the Chehalem Mountains.
Three Adelsheim wines to try
Here are three Adelsheim Vineyard wines, all using grapes from the Chehalem Mountains. Adelsheim wines have good distribution, so ask for them at your favorite wine shop, or order directly from the winery.
Adelsheim Vineyard 2015 Staking Claim Chardonnay, Chehalem Mountains, $40: Aromas of kiwi, pineapple, star fruit and Golden Delicious apple, followed by flavors of firm orchard fruit and ripe pear, crisp acidity, savory mouth feel, mild smoky oak.
Adelsheim Vineyard 2016 Bryan Creek Pinot Blanc, Chehalem Mountains, $25: Bright, crisp aromas of Granny Smith apples, Asian pear and honeydew melon, followed by racy flavors of ripe pear, pineapple, kiwi and crisp apple. Bright and focused through the finish.
Adelsheim Vineyard 2015 Breaking Ground Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, $45: Gorgeous blueberry and purple fruit, hint of sage, smoky oak, cocoa powder, smooth entry with notes of plum, blueberry, dark chocolate and smoked meat.
Sometimes, being a pioneer means returning to where it all began, and that is kind of what Adelsheim is doing, seeing it as his duty to help define the wines coming from the Chehalem Mountains. Of the six small appellations that subdivide the northern Willamette Valley, the Chehalem Mountains is the largest, at more than 100 square miles, with about 1,100 acres of vineyards and 80 wineries and vineyards. It’s also home to the Ribbon Ridge AVA, which features highly sought-after pinot noir grapes. The federal government recognized the Chehalem Mountains as a grape-growing region in 2006. There are three soil types and different elevations mixed into this region.
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Pinot noir, more than any grape variety, is transparent, revealing its greatness based on the location of where it is grown. This model works in its ancestral home in France’s Burgundy, and it works in Oregon, where the industry’s pioneers continue to refine its style.
In the case of the Chehalem Mountains, the emerging profile would seem to be purity of fruit that results in seductive wines.