It’s harvest time all around the land (well, the northern land), and Stoller Wines in Dundee Hills, Oregon, was busy picking their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay when I was there last weekend. It’s an amazing time to visit a winery, and here are just a few reasons why:
1 They play Eminem in the tank room. And old school Slim Shady, not the new stuff. Winemaker Melissa Burr (love her, so cool) gave us tour of the winery and said she likes the music because it keeps everyone’s energy up when they’re working long, labor-intense days during harvest. She doesn’t, however, think the beat of the music affects the grapes as they ferment (some people do, and will play classical or rock depending on what they think it does to the grapes!).
2 Even though they’re busy picking grapes for the new vintage, you get to try a lot of their older wines. We did a vertical of the past ten years in their amazing tasting room which gives you a sick view of the vineyard. (And besides being gorgeous, Stoller was the first winery in North America to be LEED certified.)
When you do a vertical tasting, you try a wine from each vintage to see how the weather and winemaking affected each year’s wine. Stoller’s Pinots have lots of black cherry and often a good dose of mushroom. I love Oregon Pinot because the good ones have a balance of fruit and earth, as opposed to California ones that let the fruit go big and the Burgundy ones that tend to be much earthier (I love those too, they’re usually just wayyy more expensive).
3 Vineyard manager Rob drives you around the vines in his pickup truck, depsite the fact that he’s probably slept a total of three hours in the past week. He also introduces you to his dog Jory (named after the soil, since it and the dog are the same light brown color). Jory gets Rob walking through the vines a lot more than if he were just by himself. If that isn’t cute enough, Rob also tells you how he moved to Dundee Hills, OR – the “middle of nowhere” and basically knowing no one – and wound up moving into a house next door to a pastry chef who he’s now married to and has a baby with. Love it.
4 You get to try one of the best tamales you’ve ever had.
Taco Chon (Rob said it means something dirty in Spanish) arrived in the vineyard at lunchtime and started doling out tacos and tamales to all the pickers from the back of the van. Spicy and damn awesome.
5 You realize Pinot goes amazing with anything pig: pork, bacon, full-on pig roast like this one:
They served it up with this sick, sick mole sauce (siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick). The recipe’s from the mom of one of the harvest pickers.
6 It’s just really freaking pretty at harvest time.