Alloro Vineyard weaves New World with Old in Chehalem Mountains

By on May 27, 2019
David Nemarnik, CEO of Pacific Coast Fruit Co., in Portland, owns Alloro Vineyard and takes an active role in overseeing the property along Laurel Ridge near Newberg, Ore. (Photo courtesy of Alloro Vineyard)

SHERWOOD, Ore. – Meandering up the scenic path to Alloro Vineyard had me reminiscing about a visit to Tuscany a decade ago.

Tall, swaying cypress trees guide you into a picturesque 110-acre estate, leading to a panoramic view of thriving vines, ultimately to a charming tasting room with a warm, welcoming ambiance and European flair. It’s quite fitting when you learn that Alloro Vineyard founder David Nemarnik, who grew up in Portland, is of Croatian and Italian heritage.

The CEO of Portland’s Pacific Coast Fruit Co., founded Alloro Vineyard in 1999, and the first release of Pinot Noir was introduced in 2002.

Alloro’s current production is 3,000 cases a year. Of the 34 acres rooted in the wind-blown, silty Laurelwood soil, about 90 percent is planted to Pinot Noir (including clones 667, 777, 114, 115, Wädenswil and Pommard), with a few acres of Riesling, Chardonnay and Muscat making up the balance of their dry-farmed vineyard.

Nemarnik and his daughter live on the property. The estate is also home to heirloom sheep, Hereford cattle and heritage pigs. They roam amid stately fig, olive and chestnut trees, and culinary gardens that decorate the acreage and reap bountiful harvests.

The winery name, Alloro (meaning Laurel in Italian), pays tribute to his heritage and the well-drained Laurelwood soil here. Eco-friendly and environmentally conscious, the Alloro team has secured Salmon Safe certification, LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) and IOBC (International Organization for Biological Control) certified sustainable accreditations, while also generating electricity for the entire estate with solar panels.

Fitzpatrick oversees Alloro Vineyard wines

Tom Fitzpatrick arrived at Alloro Vineyard in 2010 after spending three vintages with Hamacher Wines. (Photo courtesy of Alloro Vineyard)

General manager/winemaker Tom Fitzpatrick earned his master’s degree in viticulture and enology at the University of California-Davis. He combines his Burgundian, Napa Valley and Willamette Valley experience to craft wines that reflect the terroir of the Chehalem Mountains American Viticultural Area.

Alloro’s oak program includes tight-grained French oak barrels (from a variety of coopers) which impart complementary underlying oak spice to their wines. Fitzpatrick’s winemaking style shows off his respect for the vineyard and varietal purity in the glass. Impressive examples include:

Alloro Vineyard 2015 Chardonnay, Chehalem Mountains, $34: A clear straw-colored hue greets the eye, and the aroma suggests fresh orchard fruit and shortbread biscuit notes. It brims with creamy Bartlett pears, crisp Granny Smith apples, sweet Meyer lemons, a trace of herbs and skillfully positioned oak (from 10% new French barrel aging) entwining with a stream of minerality. Brisk acidity drives this energetic wine to a lasting finish.

Alloro Vineyard 2015 Riesling, Chehalem Mountains, $30: All about Riesling at first whiff, here is a mouthwatering, varietally spot-on wine. The slate aroma is tantalizing, and the layers of white peach, nectarine, wet stone, lime zest and minerally notes with a touch of citrus blossom are well defined. Pure, fresh and invigorating through the vitalizing finish.

Alloro Vineyard 2015 Estate Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, $40: An expressive, unmistakable Pinot Noir aroma wafts from the glass. Fresh-picked cherries, wild berries, hints of violets, a touch of earthiness, cola and savory spice coat the palate, interlacing in harmony. Impressive depth and balance with gentle tannins and a silky texture combine to carry this well-balanced Pinot Noir to a lively close.

Alloro Vineyard 2015 Justina Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, $95: Polished and elegant, this beauty is breathtaking. Black cherries, black raspberry jam, anise, blueberries, sandalwood, and exotic spices unwind deliciously on the palate. Ten months in 80% new French oak contributes further dimension. Complex and finely structured with meticulous balance and refined tannins, its gold medal at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition shows that it drinks beautifully now, and there’s years to go.

Alloro Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, $50: Alluring aromas set the stage for this concentrated and complex wine. Sweetheart cherries, raspberries, spice box and licorice drops are framed by structured tannins and balancing acidity. This gem boasts qualities of both worlds; Old World earthiness and New World lush fruit. Finishes long with a dash of herbs and oak nuances adding complexity.

A tasting of earlier vintages of Alloro Vineyard’s Riservata Pinot Noir indicates the age-worthiness of these wines (check with the winery for price and availability):

Alloro Vineyard 2011 Riservata Pinot Noir: The aroma is intoxicating, and this Pinot Noir delivers in spades on the palate, too. Forest fruits, earthy elements, crushed herbs, brisk acids, minerally tones, raspberries, pomegranate juice, dried cherries and underlying oak entwine. Savory, earthy notes linger far after the final sip; elegance in a glass.

Alloro Vineyard 2012 Riservata Pinot Noir: Deeply fruited and spicy is the profile of this smooth, luxurious Pinot Noir. Dense cherry and tayberry fruit join damp earth notes, a hint of red cinnamon candies, and a touch of toffee and orange peel. Rich and full bodied yet well balanced from first sip, to the long-lasting zesty one.

Alloro Vineyard 2015 Riservata Pinot Noir: Inviting scents of a warm cherry pie up front, this engaging wine broadens expansively on the palate with floral notes, pomegranate seeds, allspice, and a thread of earthiness. Intensely flavored and solidly built while being silky-smooth and graceful at the same time.

Alloro Vineyard Whole Farm Dinner set for Sept. 7

Alloro Vineyard produces estate wines and is a working farm that also serves as the home for owner David Nemarnik. (Photo courtesy of Alloro Vineyard)

Alloro’s tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Don’t miss an opportunity to inquire about annual Whole Farm Dinner on Sept. 7, and other Nemarnik farm dinners, which are scheduled throughout the year.

Learn more by visiting their website, www.allorovineyard.com.

About Ellen Landis

Ellen Landis is a certified sommelier, wine writer, wine educator, wine event moderator and frequent judge at prominent regional, national and international wine competitions. Ellen and her husband, chef Ken Landis, sold Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn, a boutique resort on Miramar Beach, Calif., in 2015 and relocated to the Pacific Northwest.

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