Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Visit to Shadow Mountain

Today, after a few chores and a visit to Lane Forest Byproducts, I drove my freshly washed Legacy out past the Fern Ridge Reservoir to Territorial Road and turned right to Shadow Mountain Vineyards. Mel and Jo Cooper were working with their crew trying to shape the place up in time for the Barrel Tour and for visitors wanting to sample their wares. Mel said he is already getting calls to find out when they will open for visitors.
The setting is beautiful. You drive up past the pond on the left and past the vineyards to the house. They have set up a tasting room in the large garage and there is ample parking.
I quipped that all they needed was a view! From the yard you can see the Coburg Hills and the valley floor.
We got around to tasting some wine after I took what I think will be the perfect starting point for one of my solar plate etchings. The etchings are now on display at Travel Lane County's Adventure Center at Gateway. This tree is home to their owl, and for the occasional Bobcat.
They stared out doing tree farming and had many acres in Christmas trees. Then their son, Jonathon, suggested trying wine. Smart kid!

Their wines are in high demand and they seem to have a good distributor in Lemma. They sell at Market of Choice at the Delta Oaks store, where my friend Dan oversees the wine department and has turned it in to one of the finest wine shops around. If you get a chance, pick up a bottle of the '07 Pinot Noir. It is one of the finest around and is selling for $26! Dan still has some on the shelves due to the idiots who bad mouthed ALL '07 Pinot Noir.
As I wrapped up the photo shoot, they gathered a table and chairs for a little outside tasting. A chill was in the air but the sun made a random appearance to keep us fairly comfortable. Because of the chill the wine took a while to open, but what better way to spend time. They had been spreading hemlock bark so we laughed that all the wine would have a faint hemlock nose. This proved not to be the case.
The first wine we tried was the '09 Pinot Gris made from grapes grown on site. The vines were started from cuttings so Mel mentioned the slight fear of phylloxera, but the vines are doing well and are on a low slope near the road with good soil and water. I did not ask if the dry farmed but the site looks like they could.
The '09 Pinot Gris has been described as  having a tropical nose and a pear and apple taste with hints of green melon and a long spicy finish. I think that is has mellowed a little in the bottle and while I did taste the apple and pear, I was more impressed by the softness and sweetly tangy tastes that were present. The finish was velvety and danced through with spice and green apple. Lovely wine. They won a Silver at the '10 State Fair and this wine has been the top selling Pinot Noir for Lemma.
Next came a duel between the '07 and '08 Pinot Noir. There was no clear winner but that '07 Reserve Pinot Noir is just amazing! The nose brings a hint of warm mocha, with dark ripe cherry, and a soft sweet plum. The mouth feel is soft and full of ripe fruits like blackberry and plum. and the finish is long with chocolate and spice. I was impressed at how much it had matured in bottle in such a short time. It won Gold at the Oregon State Fair in '10 and I can see why.
Now to the '08 Pinot Noir. This wine had me stumped for a long time. The nose was full of black berry, Marion berry, hints of chocolate, warm earth, oak, and spices, but the primary taste, surrounded by a slight tartness on the sides of the tongue and followed by a long slow finish of dark chocolate, eluded me.
It was fun letting it sit mid palette and then letting the warm soft liquid run down the back of my throat and caching a fleeting taste of ...what indeed. Then I found it. Later that night, as I sipped it and tried various nibbles of soft cheese, vegetables, etc. it hit me. Prune compote! That warm, soft cooked prune taste with tiny hints of dark berry and a slight tartness on the edges. This is such a good wine!
And again, $26 at Market of Choice.
They gave me a bottle of the '07 Pinot Noir Reserve and a bottle of the '09 Pinot Gris for the auction in June. These will be in a case of newer wineries' wines and will be more than worth bidding on!
As we visited, Denise Vendley, from South Willamette Valley Winery Assoc., came by to join us and taste. She was dropping off the new maps.
I must say that I am impressed by what she and the others involved have done to raise the awareness of the Lane County wineries. As a member of the Board of Travel Lane County, and as a fan of Oregon wines, I have harped endlessly for the last few years about how we needed to wake up and get a wine trail going. Now they are doing just that and it is very exciting. I can't wait to see freeway signage, a few tasting rooms in Junction City and Elmira, and lots of tourists!
She and I are working with the Schnitzer Museum of Art

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