In Part One of this series, we reported on some of the wineries in and about the Chehalem Mountains AVA in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In Part Two, we covered some of the best the Dundee Hill’s AVA has to offer. In this third and final part, we highlight two great wineries that don’t fall within the same AVA.
Penner–Ash Wine Cellars, along Highway 240 on the eastern edge of the Yamhill–Carlton District AVA (between the towns of Yamhill and Newberg), is one of our favorite Oregon wineries. At UC Davis, Lynn Penner–Ash shifted from Botany to Viticulture and finally Enology and worked at Domaine Chandon and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. She eventually found her way to Oregon’s Rex Hill (mentioned in Part One of this series), where she served as winemaker and, eventually, President. In 1998, Lynn co–founded Penner–Ash with her husband, Ron (who retired from teaching to work in the business), producing great Oregon wines (particularly Pinot Noirs) ever since. The winery’s beautiful grounds and relaxing tasting room are reason enough to visit, but we also enjoyed their 2007 Dry Riesling ($18), 2008 Viognier ($28), 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($45), 2007 Carabella Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55), 2007 Dussin Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir ($60) and 2006 Oregon Syrah ($32) the day we visited. We’ve written about this winery previously, but it keeps drawing us back for more.
We also revisited Bethel Heights Vineyard, located in the heart of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA near Salem. This winery has it all—picturesque grounds, an enticing tasting room, fantastic wines, accommodating staff and a very cute winery dog named Mitzi. Leah really appreciated their Unoaked 2010 Chardonnay ($18), 2009 Riesling ($12) and 2010 Grüner Veltliner ($18) and then got completely engrossed in a “throw the ball” session with Mitzi. Leah’s brother and I went on to enjoy their 2009 Pinot Noir Southeast Block ($50), 2009 Pinot Noir West Block ($50), 2009 Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard ($50) and 2009 Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve ($60), all tremendous Pinots. Founded in 1977 by Ted Casteel and Pat Dudley, Terry Casteel and Marilyn Webb and Pat’s sister Barbara, the winery and vineyard are still owned and operated by these two families on what was originally a walnut tree grove. They are committed to responsible, sustainable vineyard and winery practices and, of course, producing fantastic wines.
In our three part series, we’ve only touched the surface of the great wineries of Oregon. You really can’t go wrong touring Oregon wineries, even if you select them at random. We plan to return to Oregon soon, so we’ll make an effort to stop at some wineries we’ve never visited to see what new gems we can unearth.