Though Oregon’s wine industry is relatively young compared to regions such as Bordeaux or Burgundy, there is already an old guard of winemakers and vineyard owners that has made its mark on the state’s wine industry. Recently, a new crop of winemakers has settled into the region, and its winemakers are already earning recognition and widespread acclaim.
In the Eola-Amity Hills, Walter Scott Wines makes both pinot noir and chardonnay, but it’s the chardonnay that is earning the most recognition, tasting into the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium in 2013 and 2014. Founders Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon have been working in Oregon’s wine industry for almost two decades, but the duo didn’t start their winemaking endeavor until 2008.
“Our first priority for our chardonnay is to translate place,” said Pahlow. “We aim to achieve this by producing elegant wines that are driven by minerality and freshness.”
Pahlow said that the established wineries and vineyards were his inspiration when he decided to build his own label. “While starting a new business is always hard, we benefitted tremendously from the generations of winemakers and vineyard owners who came before us and built this industry,” he said.
Most recently, L’Angolo Estate opened in Dundee Hills. In 2012, Chase Renton and his parents purchased a nut orchard that had sat idle for twenty years, becoming wild and overgrown. The first bottles of chardonnay and pinot noir were released in 2016. In the coming year, Renton said they expect to triple their production to about 1,500 cases.
L’Angolo currently has sixteen acres of pinot noir grapes planted and four acres of chardonnay grapes. A modern tasting room with wood detailing and glass walls overlooks the estate and an outdoor fireplace. The inviting space fits with Yamhill Valley’s tradition of bringing visitors in for a chance to meet the winemakers.
Renton has also been working with established winemakers in the estate. One of those winemakers is Isabelle Meunier, known for her innovative work at Evening Land Vineyards, and who now has her own label called Lavinea. Meunier said she aims to create “timelessness in each bottle” by focusing on single-vineyard wines.
“The region in Oregon has a few years behind it, but it’s still quite young,” said Meunier.