Dundee Hills is one of the warmest spots in the wine mecca of Willamette Valley. All the Stoller vines are on south-facing hills. That means a longer growing season, which results in greater natural acidity and more complex flavors in the grapes. That helps give the region's Pinot Noirs a unique, fruit forward taste.
One of our group's favorite wines was unexpected, a delightful Pinot Noir rose bursting with citrus and melon flavors. After a hot bus ride from Portland, it was just the ticket. We sipped appreciatively as we walked to the vineyard.
While enjoying a picnic lunch under the shade of Douglas Firs, we sampled a crisp 2011 stainless steel Chardonnay, a 2011 Dry Riesling and the 2009 Pinot, which uses fruit from the east vineyards. The '09 is an approachable fruit forward wine.
Our tour then led us to the fermentation room for a sampling of three Chards made with Stoller grape: Adelsheim, Chehalem Vineyard and Stoller Reserve, all 2010 vintages. Our tasting team leaned toward the buttery balance of the Chehalem, but there was a strong vote for the well rounded Stoller.
It was unseasonably hot, so it was a joy to wind our way down to the barrel cellar to dig into Stoller's famous Pinots. There we had perhaps the highlight of the visit with the 2008 Stoller SV Pinot Noir. This is a winning wine from the first drop to the last. In addition to gorgeous fruit, there is a savory streak of herbs that leads to a refreshing finish. We tasted three other '08 Pinots, all named for family members. We sampled Helen's, Nancy's and Cathy's. The standout of this trio was Helen's --which was just released the day before.
Stoller is a family estate winery and former turkey farm. The love of the land shines through in their elegant wines, environmental practices and farming techniques. The winery and ground are spectacular with an impressive new tasting room scheduled for September.
There's gold in the hills of Dundee and you can find it at Stoller.