Popping the Cork on Oregon's Latest Wine News

Cafe Castagna's flat-price wine list, new winemaking facilities in the valley, events worth toasting, and Oregon's latest AVA

By Allison Jones March 5, 2015

♦ Cafe Castagna has unveiled a new flat-price wine list featuring $45 bottles, and only $45 bottles. Local highlights from the huge bottle list include rosé from Colene Clemens, Crowley chardonnay, Trisaetum and Teutonic pinot noir, and Fausse Piste grenache. Glass pours will still be available, and you can check out the full list online

♦ Clink for Clean Water: From Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29, 22 of Oregon’s top wineries will join together to support Oregon’s rivers, lakes, and fresh drinking water. Wineries like Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon, Chehalem, and Phelps Creek will donate 20% of their tasting room sales to Oregon Environmental Council’s clean water programOEC’s water initiatives include work to keep nitrate pollution out of Oregon’s rivers and streams (remember when the Willamette closed last summer? Nitrates.), make fresh clean drinking water accessible throughout the state, and protect our water from toxic urban runoff. Oregonians are invited to wander down to their favorite watering holes and raise a glass—for Oregon water. Map a tour of all Clink wineries here!

♦ In February, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced it has established The Rocks District of Eastern Oregon's Milton-Freewater as the newest American Viticulture Area (AVA). The AVA is situated on an alluvial fan of the Walla Walla River, and lies entirely within the state of Oregon. The area contained within the Rocks District also lies within the Walla Walla Valley AVA, which in turn is entirely within the larger Columbia Valley AVA. According to the Oregon Wine Board, "the distinguishing feature of The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater is its soil, which consists primarily of dark-colored basalt cobblestones. Due to their coarse texture, the soils are not easily eroded, so cover crops are not required and the cobblestones can be left exposed on the surface where they absorb solar radiation. Heat from the sun-warmed stones promotes growth early in the season and assists ripening during the late summer and early fall." Nineteen wine producers have vineyards within the boundaries of The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA, which contains approximately 3,770 acres and currently has approximately 250 acres of commercially producing vineyards. "The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater marks Oregon's 18th AVA, another important step in designating the distinctive and high-quality wine growing regions within our state," said Ellen Brittan, chairwoman of the Oregon Wine Board. "By gaining AVA status, producers who grow or source fruit from these vineyards can better differentiate the unique characteristics of their wines."

♦ Stoller Family Estate, home to the largest contiguous vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA, is in the planning phase of a second winemaking facility. The new winery will be located on the 373-acre estate, and construction will begin later this spring. The property’s original facility was the first winery to achieve the LEED® Gold certification in the world when it debuted in 2006. This month, Stoller will also begin construction on a project to transform the property’s original tasting room."

♦ The Oregon Wine Board gave its highest honors to the state’s wine industry leaders at the annual Oregon Wine Industry Awards Dinner. The Founders Award was given to Jim and Loie Maresh of Maresh Red Hills Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. Earl and Hilda Jones, owners of Abacela in Roseburg, were presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Outstanding Industry Service Award was conferred on Chad Vargas, vineyard manager at Adelsheim Vineyard. The honorees were nominated by their peers for their extraordinary contributions to the Oregon wine industry. On the restaurant side of things, the 2015 Oregon Wine A-List Restaurant of Year award was given to The Joel Palmer House of Dayton to honor their singular support of Oregon wine. The Oregon Wine A-List Wine Director of the Year award was given to Andy Zalman of Higgins Restaurant for his sustained support and advocacy of the wines of Oregon.

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