Oregon might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of great wine, but that’s changing! Just an hour outside of Portland lies Willamette Valley and nestled in the beautiful Dundee Hills lies Sokol Blosser Winery. Last week, I enjoyed a lovely dinner at Towne in downtown Los Angeles hosted by Alison Sokol Blosser, co-president and Second Generation Wine Grower. We were given four Sokol Blosser selections and were treated to appetizers, dinner and desserts specially selected to pair with the wine assortment.
The first wine we tasted was a 2011 Rose of Pinot Noir. It was fruity with a hint of strawberries and very light and sweet. Rose of Pinot Noir is 100 percent Pinot Noir. It is treated as if it is a white grape when it comes into the winery so they intentionally make this into a Rose from the get go. It is made from 100 percent organic grapes as all of their grapes are certified organic. It is only sold through their tasting room, website and wine club.
As we drank the Rose, Alison filled us in on a little history of Sokol Blosser Winery, like the fact that her parents planted their first grapes on what was once a prune orchard in 1971.
“They were both teachers. They really liked wine. They thought, people had been making wine forever, it can’t be that hard. This will be kind of fun,” Alison said. “They were hippies. They came in their Volkswagen bus, my mom had the long braids and they wanted to grow something. They liked the idea of growing wine grapes.”
What started as five acres has expanded to 125 acres, 85 of which are fully planted. Willamette Valley now has about 180 wineries.
With dinner we were given two wines to try, a Sokol Blosser 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris and a Sokol Blosser 2010 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. The Pinot Gris had a tart citrus flavor and a steely mineral taste. Just the right option to go with a seafood or pasta dish.
The Pinot Noir was the third wine we tasted and one of the softest Pinot Noirs I’ve ever had. Alison explained: “Oregon Pinots are going to typically be much softer and delicate and elegant in style. We’re getting the ripeness but we have the acidity because it’s a cool climate so there’s a lot more structure in the wine. California pinots, because there is so much heat, get a jammy quality and so they’re much more concentrated and fruit driven.”
“My favorite way to think about Pinot Noir is this is not the kind of wine that’s going to hit you over the head. It’s not going to knock your socks off, it’s much more seductive. It’s going to sneak up and slip your socks off.”- Alison Sokol Blosser
Alison also gave us a preview into the new tasting room scheduled to open early July 2013. The design will feature a series of terraces, wood floors, walls and ceilings with large windows and skylights to allow for plenty of natural light. The wine tasting experience will be tailored to each individual person or group.
“Do they want to do a Library tasting in a vertical of five years? Do they want to do a food and wine pairing in the kitchen? Do you they want to just sit out on the patio with their friends and have a few wines brought to them, or do they want to stand at the bar and have that kind of social experience?,” Alison said. “So we’ll have a lot of different options for people. And you can come and do all of them.”
We finished the dinner with a Sokol Blosser 2011 White Riesling. It was a very sweet desert wine that went well with Towne’s tasty assortment of deserts. “The White Riesling is made in the style of an ice wine,” Alison explained. “So with typical ice wine, the grapes freeze on the vine, but it’s not quite cold enough and we’re not quite crazy enough to pick the grapes in the middle of the night when they’re frozen. So we pick the grapes at the normal time. We freeze them and after harvest is done we bring in all of our frozen grapes and we let the grapes slowly defrosts. The trick is for the water part of the grape to stay frozen and the sweet nectar to slowly drip out.” They make it every other year and only sell it from the tasting room and online.
All of the wines offered by Alison and Sokol Blosser Winery were exquisite. The standouts for me were the Pinot Noir and the Rose of Pinot Noir. They are all definitely worth taking a trip up to Oregon to try, especially in July when the new tasting room is completed. You can also order online and sign up their wine clubs at www.sokolblosser.com, or visit Towne in downtown LA to taste Sokol Blosser wines paired with some of their delicious cuisine. Happy tasting!
Liesl Jackson is a writer/actress/comedian/pet sitter living in the heart of Hollywood. She loves the arts, animals, volunteering, traveling, and attempting to learn the acoustic guitar. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @SillyLiesl and follow The Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch.