Pacific Northwest Wine of the Week Newsletter

This week: Willamette Valley Vineyards Elton Pinot Noir. Forrest Klaffke. Tamarack Cellars. Washington wine worth $8 billion. Spring Barrel Tasting. Bainbridge Island wine tour. Chad Johnson of Dusted Valley Vintners.

April 25, 2012
Vol. 13, No. 18

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2009 Elton Pinot Noir

Appellation: Willamette Valley

Planted in 1983, Elton Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills has been considered one of the prized sources of Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley. The vineyard is now 60 acres in size, with 42 acres dedicated to Pinot Noir. In 2007, Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards leased the vineyard and now has greater access to its fruit. The result of the first three years resulted in this superior Pinot Noir, which opens with aromas of raspberries, Rainier cherries, pineapples, violets and strawberries. On the palate, this is a gentle and elegant wine with flavors of white strawberries, raspberries and cherries. It's tempting to drink this wine now, but as delicious as it is, it's likely to develop into something even greater. Rated "Outstanding" by Wine Press Northwest magazine. (496 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Price: $45

Food matches: Pair this suave Pinot Noir with prime rib, sirloin or a mushroom-based dish.

Willamette Valley Vineyards, 8800 Enchanted Way S.E., Turner, OR 97392, 503-588-9463,

Recent Wines of the Week

-- Willow Crest Winery 2010 Estate Riesling, Yakima Valley

-- Kiona Vineyards Winery 2009 Lemberger, Red Mountain

Best Buys

-- Waterbrook Winery 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $1511 -- Desert Wind Winery 2010 Desert Wind Vineyard Estate Bare Naked Viognier, Wahluke Slope, $15

More about Willamette Valley Vineyards

Jim Bernau founded Willamette Valley Vineyards in the early 1980s and brought in 5,000 stockholders to help him start his dream. Today, his winery portfolio also includes Tualatin Estate in the north Willamette Valley and Griffin Creek, which focuses on Rogue Valley fruit.

Jim's longtime winemaker, Forrest Klaffke, died Dec. 26 after a lengthy and difficult battle with cancer. Klaffke was tireless in his final harvest, often eschewing treatment when he knew his beloved Pinot Noir grapes were going to arrive. This beautiful Wine of the Week is a fitting tribute to Klaffke and his devotion to Oregon wine.

This week's Fresh Press

In this week in Fresh Press, we spotlight wines from Tamarack Cellars in Walla Walla, Wash.

We also review new wines from Bateaux Cellars, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Convergence Zone Cellars, Davenport Cellars, Gamache Vintners, Heymann Whinery, Hyatt Vineyards, Maryhill Winery, Michael Florentino , Pamplin Family Winery, Pepper Bridge Winery, Scatter Creek Winery, Silvan Ridge Winery, The Magnificent Wine Co. and Waterbrook Winery.

Get the freshest reviews of recently released Northwest wines with Fresh Press.

Fresh Press publishes every week and is an easy-to-download PDF that is perfect for viewing digitally and is formatted to be easily printed.

Download this week's edition of Fresh Press.

Washington wine industry worth $8.6 billion

A study released Tuesday by the Washington Wine Commission shows the state wine industry is worth a robust $8.6 billion to the state's bottom line -- and nearly $15 billion nationwide. Just six years ago, those numbers were $3 billion and $4.7 billion.

Statewide, the Washington wine industry accounts for 27,000 jobs and $1.2 billion in wages.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates CEO Ted Baseler was surprised and pleased by the new numbers but said more grapes are needed -- and soon. He said the United States will begin to see a shortage in premium wine grapes in about five years, based on per capita wine consumption in this country. If U.S. wineries do not fill the need, consumers will turn to imports instead.

Baseler suggested that another 10,000 acres of vineyards on top of the state's 43,000 current acres would be a good start toward filling the growing need.

Read more about the new economic impact report.

Planning for barrel tasting weekends

Spring wine events are coming up fast, so now is the time to make your plans.

Spring Barrel Tasting in the Yakima Valley is this weekend, with at least 40 wineries participating.

Spring Release Weekend in Walla Walla, also known as Leonetti Weekend, is May 4-6. More than 50 wineries are expected to participate.

Memorial Weekend in Wine Country is a bit farther out, but start planning now to head to Oregon's Willamette Valley, where 150 wineries will welcome visitors May 26-28.

Upcoming wine events

Each week, we highlight an upcoming wine event in the Pacific Northwest.

If you aren't planning to come over the mountains to the Yakima Valley's Spring Barrel Tasting weekend, jump on a ferry and head to Bainbridge Island for a winery tour. Cost is $5.

To see more events (or submit yours at no cost), go to our calendar. We currently have 118 upcoming events on our calendar.

Chad Johnson of Dusted Valley Vintners

Chad Johnson, co-owner/winemaker at Dusted Valley Vintners in Walla Walla and Woodinville, Wash., talks to us this week about what Washington wines go with cheese, Ichiro, Carhartts vs. Levis and transgender wine judges.

You can watch the Northwest Winecast two ways (both free):

On our Web site:

On YouTube:

Find Northwest wine events

Looking for a wine-related event? Click here for our Northwest wine events calendar.

Wine Press Northwest e-edition

We have loaded up the past 15 issues of Wine Press Northwest in a freely available e-edition format, with a goal of eventually posting a complete archive of the magazine, going back to 1998.

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