Fans of velvety Pinot Noir can find some of the best our country has to offer from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Bold Zinfandel your thing? Lodi, California, is your place. These two areas are synonymous with these delicious varietals, but they also produce a selection of other reds, whites, and rosé wines you will want to try at the 26th annual Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Experience March 7 and 8 at Target Field. Enjoy delicious tastings and perhaps discover a new favorite.
Modern day trailblazers continue a tradition of hand-tended vines, small scale production, and dedication to their craft in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Much of the state’s best wines come from this appellation in the northwestern corner of the state. It became an official AVA in 1983, and today it is recognized as one of the premier wine-producing regions in the world.
When mentioning Willamette Valley, of course you must mention the state’s celebrated Pinot Noir. Even though the grape can be difficult to grow, the wet, cool winters and warm, dry summers make this stretch of land an ideal climate for Pinot Noir and other cool-climate grapes including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling.
Enjoy tastings from these Willamette Valley Wineries Association members:
- Coeur de Terre Vineyard: Coeur de Terre or “Heart of the Earth” is located in the West Hills of McMinnville, known for its geologic diversity and beauty which translates into unique Pinot Noir. They are committed to organic farming practices and focus on small production, handcrafted Pinot Noir, cool climate Syrah, and Riesling.
- Left Coast Estate: This family-owned estate winery has a passion for winemaking and a deep connection to the land where they live and farm just 37 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Planting on varying soils, elevations, and slopes contributes to the complexities and subtleties of their estate-grown wines that include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Meunier, and Syrah.
- Patton Valley Vineyard: This small, family-owned winery is located in the beautiful northern reaches of the Willamette Valley. They strive to produce estate-grown Pinot Noir that reflects their vineyard site as well as the vintage, and they also grow Gamay and Chenin Blanc.
- Torii Mor Winery: This winery began with the pursuit of elegant, Old World style Pinot Noir in the Dundee Hills area and now produces high quality Pinot Gris and Chardonnay as well. Their devotion to quality begins in the vineyard and continues in the cellar, allowing them to create wine in a classic Burgundian fashion.
Lodi Wine Country is a region quickly emerging as one of California’s most exciting wine destinations. Over the past decade, fourth- and fifth-generation winegrowers dedicated to the soils and vines have brought creative winemaking and cutting edge technology to the region and Lodi into the spotlight.
Located between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Mediterranean climate features warm days and cool evenings. This perfect climate allows Lodi winegrowers to consistently craft diverse, full-flavored varietal wines that display a refreshing natural acidity.
Lodi is predominately a red wine-growing region and is the self-proclaimed Zinfandel Capital of the World, producing over 40 percent of California’s premium Zinfandel, including highly acclaimed Old Vine Zinfandels. With some plantings dating back to 1888, these vines are naturally low-yielding due to their age and consistently produce high quality fruit. One of the first wine grape varieties to be planted in the area during the California Gold Rush, Zinfandel holds a special place in Lodi’s history and winegrowers are committed to continuing this heritage.
Lodi is also home to the state’s other leading varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc as well as Spanish, Italian, and Southern Rhône varietals.
Sip and swirl samples from these Lodi Winegrape Commission representatives:
- Klinker Brick Winery: Fifth-generation grape growers continue the tradition of cultivating old Vine Zinfandel vineyards that their ancestors planted in the early 1900s. They also produce Syrah Cabernet, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Dolcetto, Rosé, Grenache Blanc, and an Albariño to name a few.
- LangeTwins Winery and Vineyards: As part of a generational farm family dating back to the 1870s, twin brothers Randall and Brad Lange grew up with the family passion for farming. Through determination, they have made their ranch a benchmark winery.
- Michael David Winery: Michael and David Phillips are brothers whose family has farmed fruits and vegetables in the Lodi region since the 1850s and cultivated wine grapes for nearly a century. This fifth generation of grape growers likes to emphasize the importance of quality wines with unique and fun labels.
- Oak Farm Vineyards: Oak Farm strives to create exciting small-lot wines that showcase what amazing flavors and aromas the fruit has to offer. If you are ever in the area, take in the historic oak trees that surround the property, which dates back to the mid 1800s.
- Oak Ridge Winery: Built in 1934, this winery’s old vines have a story to tell. For generations they have stood up to sun and rain, each year producing grapes that capture the essence of the soil that surrounds their roots. Oak Ridge also produces estate wine under several separate wine labels.
- Peltier Winery & Vineyards: Owned and operated by a fourth-generation farming family, this innovative winery produces wines from their sustainably farmed, certified green, estate-grown vineyards to allow the winemaker’s artistry and characteristics of each varietal to shine.