Unraveling the Meaning of Sustainability in Oregon, by Penny Sadler

Guest Article by Penny Sadler, Adventures of a Carry-On

Oregon is synonymous with sustainability. Over 100 years ago, the Oregon state legislature enacted the first environmental protection law prohibiting pollution of waters used for domestic or livestock purposes. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the state of Oregon passed bill after bill, designed to protect the land and environment now, and for future generations.

In this culture of sustainability the Oregon wine business was born and Oregon winemakers have embraced a commitment to stewardship of the land from the beginning.

Oregon’s perfect combination of climate and soil types makes it easy to grow grapes without pesticides or, with minimal intervention. Combine that with the fact that 70% of the wine produced in Oregon is made by small, family-owned wineries producing 5000 cases or less per year, and you have the ideal situation for community collaboration and commitment to environmentally friendly farming practices. It’s no surprise that Oregon leads with the highest number of sustainable, organic, and biodynamic certified wineries in the US.

Sustainability doesn’t stop in the vineyards. It’s also about making good business decisions for the right reasons; once again, Oregon leads the way with eight B-Corp wineries, more than any other state in the US. In fact, there are twelve B Corp wineries in the US and 2/3 of them are in Oregon.

You can read more about sustainable wine production, including the various certifications currently recognized in Oregon, in this article written by Penny Sadler for The Vintner Project.

White Wines are Red Hot!

Special Guest Article by Lisa Shara Hall

Oregon is known for its Pinot Noir. Okay, that’s fair as seventy percent of its plantings are Pinot Noir.

But that’s not the whole story about Oregon. Not by a long shot. So why are so many of it’s white wines overlooked?

The 2014 Oregon Chardonnay Symposium sought to give some spotlight to Chardonnay. And you betcha, there are some mighty fine chardonnays in this state. Bergstrom’s Sigrid, Domaine Drouhin Oregon’s Arthur, Chehalem’s Inox, Brittan Vineyards, Kramer Vineyards, Stoller Family Estate, and Soter Vineyards just to name a few.

Riesling is another up-and-coming variety with fine examples from Brooks, Trisaetum, Argyle, Chehalem, J. Christopher, Anam Cara and Teutonic Wines, just to rattle off a few of many. They do an amazing tasting at the end of the International Pinot Noir Celebration that is remarkable for its range of wines.

Melon de Bourgogne (the grape of Muscadet) is grown by, among others, Panther Creek, Ken Wright, de Ponte, Cameron, and Grochau Cellars.

Pinot Blanc is also made in Oregon. Chehalem, Adelsheim, Willakenzie Estate, Ayers, The Eyrie, and St Innocent make noteworthy Pinot blanc.

And Pinot Gris. An Oregon work-horse. There can be wonderful wines such as Chehalem’s two cuvees, The Eyrie, WillaKenzie Estate and Bethel Heights to name a very few.

And of course there are some wonderful stand-alone wines. Troon’s delightful Vermentino. Ponzi’s Arneis. Abacela’s Albarino. Chehalem’s Gruner Veltliner. Cowhorn’s Viognier (other people do make Viognier but Cowhorn’s is outstanding).

So you see that Oregon is not necessarily all about Pinot Noir. Take a chance. Try a white wine. You might be surprised.