More reasons to revisit our Rieslings and Pinots

In the September 2017 edition of Sip Northwest, our regional go to wine magazine, readers will find that our 2015 Matthew's Reserve Riesling and 2014 Ava's Gaze Pinot Noir have both been selected as Judge's Picks in their annual Best of the Northwest wine competition. As our winemaker I'm super excited about these two new awards. These two wines have been staff favorites for quite some time. Both of these wines have stories behind them that are unique and special so I wanted to share them with you here.

2014 Ava's Gaze Pinot Noir

First we can discuss the name. My Dad named this wine after his youngest granddaughter Ava
Elizabeth LaVelle. He tells the story on the back label:
Our family has come to appreciate a look that comes over her face when she was two years old. It's that look of when you see something new for the first time in your life. We hope you will have that same look on your face when you first taste this wine.
This wine was made from grapes grown in Cheshire, Oregon at Bennett Vineyards & Wine Company. I have a ton (pun intended) of  respect for Gene and Lisa and what love they pour into taking care of their 21 acre vineyard outside of Junction City, Oregon. They also have a tasting room off Hwy. 36 and are available most of they summer for tastings of their own wines. If you haven't been there I would highly recommend the experience.

They grow three of the big time clones of Pinot Noir that I have used since Gene first harvested his grapes back in 2011. Two are Dijon (French) clones called 777 and 115. The third was isolated and propagated in Northern California and is called UCD4, UCD5, or more commonly referred to as Pommard. I enjoy making these grapes into wine every year!

2015 Matthew's Reserve Riesling

As for the 2015 Matthew's Reserve Riesling that wine tells a very specific story of Elmira, Oregon and my Dad's 16 acre estate vineyard. LaVelle Vineyard has been known all the way back to the Forgeron Vineyard days to produce a premium Riesling crop. I have used it to make every type of Riesling imaginable from bone dry to our 10% residual sugar Autumn Nectar dessert wine. What's different about this wine is that I used a native yeast isolated from the grapes on the vineyard to inoculate a yeast colony over about a month's time. We went up in the vineyard and collected a few pounds of fruit every week for four weeks. I crushed the grapes by hand and then let them start fermenting in the buckets. As long as an acceptable strain took over the ferment I decided to keep the bucket. At harvest time our team strained the juice from the acceptable buckets and pitched the yeast into the freshly pressed Riesling juice. The attempt was to create a Riesling that was from start to finish a total "taste of our land" in Elmira, Oregon. Besides the native yeast strain the grapes also had the perfect long warm growing season Riesling enjoys. We had an early bud break that year and a late finish so the grapes got to hang for over 8 months that year. This is a very special off dry Riesling and the judges from Sip Northwest agreed.

So, if you haven't had a chance to check in on our Rieslings and Pinots there are now a couple more reasons to take a bottle home and enjoy!


  1. Your Riesling is my absolute favorite! I had the pleasure of visiting the winery several years ago on my first trip to Oregon. I fell in love with the Riesling and I've yet to find a wine that comes close. I had the opportunity to visit Oregon again and was able to stop by the tasting room. I've ordered a case ...or 2 of the Riesling since and cannot wait to order more!


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