I’m often asked what my favorite wine is. That is kind of like asking a mother who her favorite child is. Wrong, on so many levels. In all honestly, I probably haven’t even tasted it yet. But I do have some wines that I go back to over and over again. Each vintage is a bit different due to climate variation, but delicious nonetheless.
Back in 2010, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend Oregon Pinot Camp. This three-day event takes place every June in the Willamette Valley about 40 miles due south of Portland, Oregon. Oregon Pinot Camp, or OPC as it is referred to, is restricted to wine industry folks who are nominated by one of 50 wineries that participate in the event each year. One purpose of OPC is to educate wine industry professionals about the incredibly collaborative and supportive community of wine makers and winery owners in the Willamette Valley. The other purpose is to learn about Oregon’s wonderful wines and the terroir that make them so unique, with the hope that the participants will spread the word back home to their clients. What a great marketing strategy, huh? I think so! It was at OPC that I discovered two of my now favorite wines.
One morning at Pinot Camp, a school bus full of “campers,” including myself, were hauled over to Soter Vineyards for an early morning blind tasting. Mind you, we had already been drinking mimosas well before and during our bus ride there. We arrived in rare form at 9am in our highly decorated, green “Bail Out Money Bus.” One must explain that campers are broken down into groups based on their hotel, and each group is assigned a bus with a theme and two camp counselors. The buses are decorated and each bus creates its own slogan and theme song. Bus #6-the Green bus’s slogan was, “Mind on my money and money on my mind!”
We were greeted by the proprietor and noted head winemaker, Tony Soter (former winemaker at Etude, Araujo, Shafer, Spottswoode, Dalle Valle). Soter Vineyards is located in the Yamhill-Carlton District of the Willamette Valley at Mineral Springs Ranch. The tasting room sits on top of a hill overlooking the vineyards. The view is breathtaking. The tasting room was set up with many tables and chairs and tons of wine glasses carefully positioned around each place setting. After an educational discussion with Tony and a number of other notable winemakers such as Lynn Penner-Ash from Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, we were let loose to blind taste approximately 6 different Pinot Noirs. Two wines really stood out to me from all of the others. There was something unique about them that the others lacked. Quite frankly, I can’t remember all of the other wines, but I do remember the 2007 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir and the 2008 Mineral Springs Pinot Noir from Soter Vineyards. I just recall smelling the 2008 and then tasting it and saying “WOW!” I was mesmerized. It was like liquid crack. I couldn’t get enough. It was so good, the day after Pinot Camp, I scheduled a private tasting at Soter and signed up for the Soter Wine Club. Now I get the Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noirs shipped to me on a regular basis. Lucky me.
To learn more about Soter Vineyards and Mineral Springs Ranch wines, visit: www.sotervinyards.com.