Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cold Feet and Cold Wine

Ok, I knew going into this what a huge undertaking it was. At the time I started my quest, there were 395 wineries in Oregon that I knew of and I’m sure there are more now. Yes, I did the math. That’s roughly 8 wineries a week … every week … for a whole year. That’s an awful lot of wine to drink. I’m not complaining mind you, but I’d be liar if I didn’t admit to having some doubts about whether or not I’ll be able to achieve my objective.

I had my first real bout of cold feet today when I realized I’m already short of my weekly goal … and it’s only my first week! I tried to get up early enough to visit Ponzi Vineyards on my way to work, but I just couldn’t seem to move fast enough and barely made it to work on time as it was. My first week, and I’m already behind. Thank goodness my job is pouring wine in a tasting room, my report from work today will put me almost to goal and maybe I can sleep tonight a little bit easier. Maybe.

Being Labor Day weekend, and a rainy one at that, I expected huge crowds today. People are often either making Cooper Mountain Vineyards (CMV) their first stop out or their last stop on their way home – so certain times of the day can get busy, but today was just steady traffic. CMV, one of the closest wineries to Portland is located atop an extinct volcano and offers stunning views of the Tualatin Valley and Chehalem Mountain Range with an array of tables to sit at and soak it all up. The countrified tasting room has come a long way from its original state as a horse barn. I’ve heard stories of people who remember coming in to taste when there were still dirt floors.

Cooper Mountain is definitely a unique personality in such a vast sea of Pinot producers. Being 100% organic gives their wines a definite appeal, but the biodynamic element is quirky enough to make them even more interesting. The winery has a real down-to-earth environment, with old wine barrels scattered throughout the grounds, and seems to attract like-minded guests (though it is still wine country, you might still see plenty of bling). The star of the show today was a cold glass of Tokai Fruliano—a lovely and bright little white, quite special and perfect for summer sipping but so delightful, you could drink it anytime. CMV’s the only producer of Tokai in the Willamette Valley (as far as I know and correct me if I’m wrong), so it’s not something you come across everyday in the Willamette Valley and, like most of CMV’s wines, it’s very reasonably priced. The winemaker Gilles makes a variety of Pinots from light, elegant and fruit-forward to the more complex and silky. They even produce a sulfite-free Pinot for those with sensitivities to sulfites.

A seemingly permanent fixture in the tasting room is my colleague Dave who is always armed with a really bad joke or pun. Apparently, he has quite a fan club though and guests come in on Sundays specifically to see him (if you don’t believe me, read the guest book – I’ve wondered if he bribes people with free drinks to write such good stuff about him)!

At the end of my shift, I enjoyed my glass of wine while walking the vineyard, observing the grape clusters ripening and changing color (veraison) and reflected on my day. My big take-home lesson was this: “Drink less the night before in order to get up early enough to drink more the next day.” Until we sip again…


1 comment:

Erin said...

Sad you didn't make it to Ponzi to visit us, but soon you can reschedule and sip the new reserves!

Loving your take on all this!