When you think of Oregon Pinot Noir you typically think of the Willamette Valley. After all, it’s this northern appellation and its cool climate and dry summers seem to be Pinot perfection. That does not however mean that the Willamette Valley is the only place Oregon can grow Pinot Noir.
The Rogue Valley is probably most known for its outdoor lifestyle, rafting, hiking and mountain biking are a huge tourism draw for this part of Oregon. Though in recent years, viticulture has become firmly established and this warm growing region, with a climate similar to some parts of California’s Central Valley has seen tremendous growth in its wine industry.
While the region’s wine is mostly made from more warm climate varietals like Tempranillo, Malbec and even Zinfandel, Pinot Noir can be found here in the Rogue Valley as well as other parts of the region like the Applegate and Umpqua Valleys. The style is certainly different than the wines crafted in the Willamette and that’s the whole point.
2016 Rock Point Pinot Noir, Rogue Valley, Oregon $16
The Rock Point wines are made in Gold Hill, Oregon from the well established Del Rio Vineyards operation. The wines are made to hit on a value price point, and offer fruit forward, generous wines that speak to what this region produces. The Pinot Noir is a blend of various clones and vineyards aimed at crafting a fruit driven, ripe and accessible Pinot Noir.
Aromatics of clove, blackberry and dried fig. The palate is straightforward with a core of red and black fruits that mingles with a bit of barrel spice. The finish is long and the acid is present but a bit subdued and plays second fiddle to ample body and richness.
2015 Proud Pour, Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley, Oregon $19
A bit to the north from the Rogue Valley is the Umpqua Valley, and it is among the frontiers of Oregon wine making, still developing its identity as a wine region, this despite being the state’s original home of Pinot Noir. The first Pinot Noir in Oregon is often credited to David Lett, but it was in fact, Richard Sommer at Hillcrest Vineyard who would plant Oregon Pinot Noir five years before Lett would in the Willamette.
History is great and all, but the Proud Pour label has an interesting story in its own right. The label was started by Berlin Kelly as a way to connect her love of fresh, natural food and wine with environmental stewardship and conservation. To that end the label has partnered with two different environmental efforts for their two different wines. For their Umpqua Pinot Noir, Proud Pour is partnered with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the largest pollinator conservation program in the world. For each bottle of Pinot Noir purchased Proud Pour and Xerses plant 875 wildflowers providing over 90 sq feet of bee habitat on small farms and nature preserves across the country. And the funding is done regionally, so the wines you buy translate to bee conservation in your region. Drink up!
The wine itself is quite nice, with a bit more elegance than the fruit forward wines from the Rogue, but not quite as floral or mineral as the wines from the Willamette. The aromas offer red fruit, cut strawberry and hints of turned earth. The palate is medium body, with a good grip of red fruit, approachable and balanced. There is a not of minerality in the wines profile but the fruit rounds out the finish with a kiss of fresh acidity.