2017 Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is one of the premier times to venture out into wine country. Many small boutique wineries are only open two times a year, Memorial Day weekend and Thanksgiving weekend.  Taking advantage of that is something we have done for several years now.

I decided early on that I wanted to visit locations that I’ve never been.  The actual list is long, but the goal for this outing was short.  On the docket for Saturday was Owen Roe Winery, Grochau Cellars, Domaine Serene, and Shea Wine Cellars.  We also attended a special tasting event at Willamette Valley Vineyards on Monday.

Our first stop was at Owen Roe Winery in Newberg.  An old friend has been a member here for many years and has on several occasions strongly suggested I visit and review them.  I must say that I’m very glad I did.

Owen Roe Winery

2016 Pinot Gris

  • A crisp bright nose, full of citrus fruit
  • Nice acidity that blends perfectly to create a smooth mid palate.
  • Great lingering finish . . Had to take one home.

2014 Pinot Noir – Chehalem Mtn

  • Blackberry aromas caress the nose
  • Bright and smooth mid palate
  • Exceptional balance, very round and enjoyable

2014 Pinot Noir – Clonmacnois

  • Blended dark berry aromas on the nose, slightly brambly (vegetal aromas)
  • Smooth and silky texture
  • The initial balanced flavors finish in a slight acidic tone.  Nicely done

2016 Sinister Hand – GSM / Cinsault blend

  • Quite bold nose, loads of deep dark fruit
  • Smooth mid and very balanced flavors of that dark fruit
  • Long lingering finish, slight spice.

2015 Malbec

  • Like most Malbecs, this one is big and bold
  • Super smooth texture, not smoky . .which was a surprise.
  • An excellent campfire wine.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Red Willow Vineyard (Yakima Valley)

  • Very jammy nose, dark fruit is pronounced
  • Smooth texture, slightly acidic
  • Long lingering finish

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – Red Willow Vineyard (Yakima Valley)

  • Dried fruit, like raisins and prunes, on the nose
  • Velvety smooth texture
  • Very nicely balanced and well-integrated.


Shea Wine Cellars is one of those locations that hasn’t until very recently been open to the public.  They don’t have a formal tasting room.  They recently started an Appointment Only tasting option.  So this was a tremendous opportunity.

2015 Chardonnay

  • Smells like a traditional Chardonnay
  • Creamy texture, good balance

2015 Pinot Noir Estate

  • Mild nose, not much that I could pick out
  • Medium body and smooth texture
  • Nice lingering finish with a tiny touch of spice.


A nice surprise for this weekend. . .Shea had 4 futures tastes of their Pinot Noirs.

2016 Pinot Noir – West Hill

  • An explosion of ripe fruit in the nose
  • Nice smooth texture
  • * My personal favorite of the futures

2016 Pinot Noir – Block 7

  • Earthy nose, dirt and forest floor aromas
  • A bit of spice in the mid palate

2016 Pinot Noir – Block 23

  • A very CLASSIC Pinot Noir
  • Traditional aromas and flavors.

2016 Pinot Noir – Homer(Best Barrels Cuvee)

  • Full of dark fruit aromas
  • Silky smooth all the way through
  • Exceptional balance
  • A Home Run


Domaine Serene

One of the most gorgeous locations to visit in Yamhill County.  Their recently opened clubhouse is beautiful.  Our tasting event was one that was designed and seated.

“R” Rose IX – non-vintage

  • Primarily Pinot Noir with a bit of Chardonnay
  • Bright and floral nose with an aroma of strawberries
  • Moderate acidity and the strawberry flavor continues
  • A bit tart.  Would be a great patio wine.

2015 Les Tourelle – White Burgundy

  • Chardonnay – Tropical fruit on the nose
  • Silky smooth texture and a slight oak influence
  • Nice lingering finish.  A Superb Chardonnay

2014 Pinot Noir – Yamhill Cuvee

  • Blend of bright red and dark red fruit aromas, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, plum
  • Those aromas materialize in the flavor profile as well, Silky smooth
  • Slightly spicy long finish

2014 Pinot Noir – Evenstad Reserve

  • Bursting with bright dark fruit
  • Silky and spicy mid palate
  • Nice lingering finish
  • Texture is similar to a full-bodied red like Cabernet

What an excellent way to finish a fine wine tasting.


Our final stop on Saturday turned out to be a two-fer.  Grochau Cellars has been the recipient of several awards over the past few years and I was really looking forward to this visit.  As it turned out, they were also featuring the 2 other wines they produce for other wine labels.  I chose to only try one of the alternate labels, Upper Five.

Grochau Cellars

2016 Melon de Bourgogne

  • Most closely resembles Sauvignon Blanc in structure
  • A bit grassy on the nose with hints of Meyer Lemon
  • Superb texture and acidity . .Very nice

2014 Bunker Hill Chardonnay

  • Typical chardonnay aromas and flavors
  • Mildly creamy

2016 Rose of Pinot Noir

  • Light aromas
  • Very subtle nuances
  • Bright acidity

2015 Redford-Wetle Gamay Noir

  • A bit brambly on the nose
  • Less vegetal on the palate
  • Fruits are dark but not pronounced

2014 Lia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir

  • Mild aromas
  • Well balanced structure, leans a bit acid.

2014 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

  • Great fruit on nose
  • Medium bodied, moderate texture
  • A good example of Dundee Hills


I then moved on to Upper Five Wines . . . Rogue Valley grown fruit.

2016 Sauvignon Blanc “Acacia”

  • Fantastic nose
  • Slightly creamy, fermented on the lees, Alsatian style.
  • Flavors of grapefruit and lemon verbena
  • Very nice

2016 Rose of Grenache

  • A light aroma
  • Moderate flavors in the mid palate
  • A bit of a tart finish

2015 Grenache

  • Excellent dark fruit on the nose
  • Silky texture at first, then the spice kicks in.
  • A great surprise

2014 Oso Grande

  • A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Tempranillo
  • Mild on the nose, expected a burst of aromas
  • Robust flavors on the palate.
  • An awesome taming of 3 unruly grapes

2014 Tempranillo

  • A bit of toast aroma in the nose
  • Tight tannins, and surprisingly silky
  • Really dry finish


On Memorial Day Monday we headed south to Turner Oregon to visit one of our favorite locations.  Willamette Valley Vineyards is one of those stately venues that one HAS to visit for themselves.  The tasting room is large and comfortably arranged.  The staff is always top-notch and the wines . . . . well I can only attest to those I’ve tasted . . .which is all of them.  They are superb.

On this particular weekend, a seated tasting was part of our plan.  Our tasting was to be delicious and educational.  We started in the Club lounge with those wines that were on the tasting flight.

2016 Estate Rose of Pinot Noir

  • Citrus and strawberries on the nose
  • Crisp and bright on the mid palate
  • Plenty of fruit and well-balanced acidity.

2015 Estate Chardonnay

  • Vanilla and citrus on the nose
  • Pretty typical Chardonnay

2015 Estate Pinot Noir

  • Strawberry and blackberry on the nose
  • Good balance and medium body.

2013 Cabernet Franc

  • Big bold fruit on the nose
  • Mesmerizing aroma
  • Silky smooth and bursting with dark fruit
  • A great treat.

For the seated tasting, we got to taste 5 different 2014 Pinot Noirs from 5 individual AVAs.  The similarities were same process, same winemaker, same vintage.  All were distinctly different however.

2014 Tualatin Estates Pinot Noir – future Tualatin Hills AVA

  • Dark cherries and plums on the nose as well as the palate
  • Smooth and well-balanced

2014 Ribbon Ridge AVA Series – Ribbon Ridge AVA

  • Light and brambly nose
  • Cherry flavors in the mid.
  • Smooth and balanced

2014 Dundee Hills AVA Series – Dundee Hills AVA

  • Mild nose, not too much came across for me
  • Slightly sweet, more fruit than sugar
  • Light and bright texture.

2014 Elton Vineyard Pinot Noir – Eola-Amity Hills AVA

  • Dark cherries and blackberries linger on the nose
  • More full-bodied than previous choices
  • Dark fruit come across well on the palate
  • Silky and lingering finish
  • A personal favorite

2014 Bernau Block Pinot Noir – future Salem Hills AVA

  • Much more intense
  • Deep dark fruit aromas
  • Full-bodied and silky with bright red fruit on the palate
  • Superbly balanced and finish lingers, begging for more.




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