An Impressive Lineup from the Dundee Hills AVA

Members of the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association recently hosted a unique wine tasting event to highlight the history of the Dundee Hills AVA.  It was quite an impressive lineup representing forty years of winemaking from the region.

What made this event unique was its arrangement. The tables were set up in chronological order so that guests could walk through the region’s history—starting with the pioneers and ending with the newcomers of the Oregon wine industry.

Guests swarmed the Eyrie table—and for good reason. It was back in the 60’s when the late David Lett came to Oregon with a vision of making great wine. Although professors at the University of California Davis advised against plantings in Oregon, Lett, a Davis graduate arrived with 3,000 grape cuttings and a theory.

In the 60s he planted Pinot noir in Oregon and made history by planting the first Pinot gris in America—a true pioneer which later fostered a fitting nickname “Papa Pinot”.  Lett aptly named his vineyard Eyrie, as red-tailed hawks built a nest at the top of the fir trees during his first vineyard planting. It was Lett’s vision that fostered the growth of what Oregon is today—a world-class wine region producing excellent Pinot noir.

Representing forty years of vintages, other legendary producers including Torii Mor, Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin, Argyle, The Four Graces and Domaine Serene made an impression by pouring releases from the past decade and beyond, which were enticing and delicious.

As for the newcomers, many flocked to sample Ayoub’s ’08 Pinot noir. Receiving high accolades for the past five years, Ayoub is an up and coming producer continuing to produce excellent quality. Tucked away in a tiny four-acre lot, Mo Ayoub’s vineyards turn out polished, well-refined Pinot noir with layers of complexity.

Just a stone’s throw away from Ayoub’s vineyard sits the newly founded Crumbled Rock, a winery that shares similarities with its neighboring vineyard Winderlea. Made of Jory soil and crumbled rock, the hillside mirrors the terroir found in its neighboring vineyards known to produce excellent fruit.

After tasting though nearly thirty wines, I found consistency in the terroir—great clarity, brightness, and spices. I have highlighted a brief wrap-up of a few of my newfound favorites below.

2007 Argyle Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Spirithouse $60
Smooth and spirited with nuances of cherry and berry flavors; good acidity and a clean, long finish.

2008 Ayoub Pinot Noir Dundee Hills $52
An absolutely lovely representation of the Dundee Hills—polished, generous and refined with layers of cherry, berry and a tinge of orange peel. Good acidity and well balanced with an enticing, harmonious finish. This was definitely a favorite of the night.

2006 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Evenstad Reserve $58
An opulent, elegant, and polished wine with cherry, spice, and everything nice—good tannin structure with a long, enticing finish.

2007 Dusky Goose Pinot Noir Dundee Hills $60
A five star wine with loads of big fruit personality. Layers of dried cherry, raspberry and dark berries with an opulent, complex, expressive finish.

2008 Torii Mor Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Select $40
Bright and textured with raspberry and a slight hint of tobacco flavor that carries over to a lovely transparent finish. Good balance and acidity.

2008 Black Walnut Inn & Vineyard Pinot Noir $45
Youthful structure that carried luscious cherry and berry flavors usually tasted in older vineyards. Lovely finish.

If you happened to miss this event, get it on your calendar for 2011—it is definitely an experience you won’t want to miss. See you next year.

This story was originally posted on


About the Author:

Editor and co-founder of, Pamela is a sommelier and former restaurant manager and wine buyer with Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), Court of Master Sommeliers & Center for Wine Origins certification. She has contributed to or been quoted by various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Sommelier Journal, Vegetarian Times, VIV Magazine, UC-Berkeley Astrobiology News, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, NPR and USA Today. True to her roots, she seeks varietal and appellation integrity and is always passionate about finding the next great bottle of wine.

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