‘Style council’ to lead Oregon Chardonnay Celebration

By on February 5, 2018
mimi casteel bethel heights vineyard andrea johnson photography 3 14 15 - 'Style council' to lead Oregon Chardonnay Celebration

Mimi Casteel of Bethel Heights Vineyard provides some levity during the 2015 Oregon Chardonnay Symposium for moderator Rajat Parr and panelists, left to right, Jason Lett of The Eyrie Vineyard, John Paul of Cameron Winery, Craig Williams and Thomas Bachelder at Stoller Family Estate in Dayton. Lett and Paul are scheduled to return as panelists for the 2018 Oregon Chardonnay Celebration on Feb. 24. (Photo by © Andréa Johnson Photography/Courtesy of Trellis Growth Partners)

NEWBERG, Ore. — Many of the state’s top winemakers continue to offer an array of complex and delicious Chardonnay, which makes it easier for organizers of the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration to develop an intriguing theme each year.

The seventh annual Oregon Chardonnay Celebration has recruited Patrick Comiskey of Wine & Spirits magazine to moderate the 2018 panel that presents The Style Council – Fashioning Oregon Chardonnay on Saturday, Feb. 24 at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg.

Experts on his panel include six leaders of the Oregon Chardonnay renaissance, winemakers Josh Bergström (Bergström Wines), Jason Lett (The Eyrie Vineyards), Anna Matzinger (Matzinger Davies Wine Co.), John Paul (Cameron), Wynne Peterson-Nedry (Chehalem Winery) and Thomas Savre (Lingua Franca).

Following the 90-minute panel discussion of winemaking techniques is the grand tasting, a pouring from 3-5:30 p.m., that features more than 50 of the state’s top examples of Chardonnay. A panel of wine professionals evaluated entries from throughout Oregon under blind conditions to determine which Chardonnays were invited to pour at the tony Allison Inn.

Cost to attend the seminar and the grand tasting is $170. Admission to the grand tasting alone is $85.

Oregon Chardonnay Celebration tasting grows

wynne peterson nedry photo courtesy chehalem winery  - 'Style council' to lead Oregon Chardonnay Celebration

Wynne Peterson-Nedry will join Jason Lett as second-generation winemakers featured during both the seminar and the grand tasting for 2018 Oregon Chardonnay Celebration on Feb. 24 at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Ore. (Photo courtesy © Chehalem Winery)

Organizers did not raise admission prices for the 2018 Oregon Chardonnay Celebration, and yet they increased the number of participating wineries by 25 percent from last year.

Many of the North Willamette Valley’s most recognized Pinot Noir producers saw their recent releases of Chardonnay selected to be poured at The Allison’s grand tasting. This list also includes two from Southern Oregon with DANCIN Vineyards (Jacksonville) and newcomer Del Rio Vineyards (Gold Hill). This marks the third straight year of involvement at the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration for DANCIN Vineyards, Wine Press Northwest magazine’s 2017 Oregon Winery of the Year.

A growing number of second-generation winemakers will be represented, including 00 Wines (Lea Lafon and Mikey Etzel), Bethel Heights Vineyard (Ben Casteel), Chehalem Winery, Domaine Roy et fils (Jared Etzel), Elk Cove Vineyards (Adam Campbell), The Eyrie Vineyards, Lange Estate Winery (Jesse Lange) and Ponzi Vineyards (Luisa Ponzi).

Those invited to pour at The Allison Inn are 00 Wines, A to Z Wineworks, Adelsheim Vineyard, Alexana Vineyards & Winery, Belle Pente Vineyard & Winery, Bergström Wines, Bethel Heights Vineyard, Big Table Farm, Brick House Wine Company, Brittan Vineyards, Cameron, Chehalem Winery, Crowley Wines, DANCIN Vineyards, Del Rio Vineyards, Division Wine Co., Domaine Divio, Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Drouhin Oregon Roserock, Domaine Roy et fils, Durant Vineyards, Elk Cove Vineyards, Elton Wines, Erath Winery, Evening Land Vineyards, The Eyrie Vineyards, Fairsing Vineyard, Furioso Vineyards, Goodfellow Family Cellars, Gran Moraine, Hyland Estates, Knudsen Vineyards, Lange Estate Winery, Left Coast Cellars, Lemelson Vineyards, Lingua Franca, Matzinger Davies, Ponzi Vineyards, Potcake Saga, Rain Dance Vineyards, REX HILL, Saffron Fields Vineyard, Seven of Hearts, Solena Estate, Statera Cellars, Stoller Family Estate, Twill cellars, VIDON Vineyard, Walnut City Wineworks, Westrey Wine Co. and Youngberg Hill.

Others back from 2017 include Adelsheim, Alexana, Bergström, Bethel Heights, Big Table Farm, Brittan Vineyards, Chehalem, Crowley Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Drouhin Oregon Roserock, Fairsing, Goodfellow, Gran Moraine, Knudsen Vineyards, Lemelson, Lingua Franca, Matzinger Davies, Ponzi Vineyards, Rain Dance Vineyards, Twill and Westrey Wine Co..

Comiskey, senior correspondent at Wine & Spirits, will be the latest in a star-studded lineup of moderators, preceded by Ray Isle of Food & Wine, sommelier Rajat Parr, Jancis Robinson contributor Elaine Chukan Brown and the late Cole Danehower. The event was founded in 2011 as the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium by Dundee Hills grower/vintner Paul Durant and educator/proprietor Erica Landon of Walter Scott Wines. They moved it from Durant Vineyards to Stoller Family Estate in 2014.

In July 2015, Durant and Landon worked out an agreement with the organizers of the International Pinot Noir Conference to take over their Chardonnay event. The McMinnville-based group immediately announced that it had changed the name to the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration and moved it to The Allison Inn & Spa, which appears to be its long-term home and an ideal location for both the seminar and the public tasting.

The 1 p.m. seminar and side-by-side tasting will examine winemaking techniques and offer explanations for picking date, whole-cluster fermentation, indigenous yeast, lees stirring and choice of wine fermenter — oak, stainless steel, concrete or amphora.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the President and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for a decade. He is a frequent wine judge at international wine competitions throughout North America and orchestrates 10 Northwest competitions each year.


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