Doug Wilder of the Purely Domestic Wine Report recently spent a week in Hillsboro tasting, interviewing and photographing select winemakers of the Willamette Valley. We were honored to be included! Here are Doug Wilder’s reviews of our wines:
2016 PINOT GRIS – 91 POINTS
The nose offers a peach-infused spice with crisp acidity. The palate is rich and bright golden stone fruit, spice and licorice finishing with sweet notes of peach and nectarine. Drink 2017 – 2021.
2016 RIESLING, ESTATE – 93 POINTS
The nose offers tropical spice, coconut, apricot and pineapple. The palate is well-focused crisp white stone fruits in the core with beautifully integrated acidity. Drink 2017 – 2024
2015 PINOT NOIR, ESTATE – 90 POINTS
The nose is a supple yet focused red cherry with notes of warm tangy cranberry. The palate is firm on entry with a silky core of moderately expressive cherry and strawberry. Admirable considering the production level here. Drink 2017 – 2028.
2015 PINOT NOIR, MOUNT RICHMOND – 92 POINTS
Pommard clone depth and spice, cherry with fragrant strawberry and blackberry. The palate is showing firm grip, tobacco, dark cherry and currant. Will age very nicely. Drink 2017 – 2030.
2015 PINOT NOIR, FIVE MOUNTAIN – 92 POINTS
The nose is dark cherry, black raspberry with shadings of black pepper and earth. The palate is a ripe blackberry that fills out the core accented by notes of mint and textured, waxy black cherry. Drink 2017 – 2030.
2015 PINOT NOIR, LA BOHÈME – 91 POINTS
The nose is licorice and spice over a generous dark cherry firmness. The palate is full bodied on entry centered on a core of black plum and cranberry richness. Should mature a bit earlier. Drink 2017 – 2024.
“Following a twenty-year career as a specialty wine buyer at some of America’s most influential domestic retailers, I launched the first independent wine review publication focused on producers in California, Oregon and Washington, exclusively. It is called Purely Domestic Wine Report, AKA pdwr and most of the content is available only by subscription.” – Doug Wilder, PDWR
The 18th Amendment was repealed 84 years ago today. What a great excuse to celebrate on a Tuesday and delve into a bit of Elk Cove history…
Pat’s great grandparents were Swiss farmers and winemakers in Helvetia, Oregon in the early 1900s. Did they make wine during Prohibition? If you were a subsistence farmer with 4 kids, 12 grandkids and 5 acres of Chasselas grapevines, what would you do?
One popular option for Prohibition era winemakers: bricks of wine, dehydrated blocks of grape-juice to reconstitute at home. Blech!
Meanwhile, Joe’s uncle Clyde Cordner toured the midwest giving rousing speeches on the evils of alcohol as a prominent temperance advocate.
Clyde’s vision of an alcohol-free utopia wasn’t realized, but decades later his nephew fell for the descendent of (alleged) bootleggers. In the early 1970’s Pat and Joe Campbell joined other “Oregon Wine Pioneers” to revitalize Oregon’s long lost wine industry.
So let’s raise a glass and be thankful we’re not drinking brick wine, bathtub gin or swill. Cheers!
We’ve been making wine for four decades, but 2017 is the first year since 1978 our wines will be 100% estate grown and bottled. Elk Cove wines will be created entirely from grapes we own with “Estate Grown” appearing on the label, an important mark of quality in the wine world.
“We’re really excited to present our fans with wines that we have complete control over from vine to bottle – other than Mother Nature’s effects of course.” – Heather Perkin, Associate Winemaker
In the first two years, founders Pat and Joe Campbell grew all their own fruit, but quickly realized they didn’t yet have the fruit quality to create a Single Vineyard Pinot Noir they could be proud of. Luckily, a chance meeting between Joe and winegrower Sandy Reese while each buying their first grapevines from fellow pioneer Charles Coury, sowed the seeds of a friendship and a winegrowing relationship between Elk Cove and Windhill Vineyard. As demand for Elk Cove wines grew we also partnered with other respected local growers to increase production and give our wines the balance we felt was needed:
“In 1978 and 1979 we made some of the very first Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs in Oregon: Our Windhill Pinot Noir. Then came the early 80’s when we had difficulty ripening certain blocks so purchasing fruit from lower-elevation sites was key. Our farming methods have improved since then, with more thinning and the use of cover crops to improve soils, so we actually get some very nice fruit from blocks we once considered marginal. Then in the late 1980’s we knew we wanted to make Pinot Gris, but were just planting our own Gris vines. We began purchasing fruit to develop our winemaking style as our own vines matured. It may seem like a slow process, but that’s viticulture – it can take decades to get the results you want.” -Pat Campbell, Elk Cove Founder
Our family has spent the last forty years planting ten to twenty acres of vines each year and investing in an impressive portfolio of vineyard sites. The Elk Cove Winery Estate, home to our esteemed La Bohème and Roosevelt blocks, came first in 1974. Then we purchased and continued planting at Windhill, Mount Richmond, Five Mountain, Clay Court and lastly Goodrich. The diversity of these vineyard sites is truly what has allowed Elk Cove to go 100% Estate:
“We now have the lower elevation Mount Richmond, very similar to the Elk Cove Estate with Willakenzie Soils, ClayCourt on Jory soil, Windhill and Five Mountain on Laurelwood, great vineyards from 250 feet to 750 feet elevation, five of which have older vines, so now we have all the elements in place. All of our vineyards are in a 20-mile radius of the winery so we can lovingly, intentionally farm each of these parcels. We finally have the right mix of vine age, soil type, elevation and microclimate to create estate grown wines that rival the finest Pinot Noirs in the world, to proudly proclaim ‘Estate Grown’ on all of our labels.” – Adam Campbell, Owner and Winemaker
Mount Richmond Vineyard has really become the backbone of our wines in both volume and quality. The older vines at this site are proving Mount Richmond to be one of the elite vineyards of Oregon. In fact, Elk Cove’s first 94 point scoring wine in Wine Spectator was awarded to our 2008 Mount Richmond. With 180 planted acres, Mount Richmond now contributes 50% of the fruit for Elk Cove’s core wines, our Willamette Valley Pinot Gris and Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. And with several newer blocks that are just coming of age, this vineyard has a promising future ahead.
With our entire focus on vineyards that we own, we now have full control over how our fruit is farmed and can care for our vineyards and soils for generations to come. Estate Grown will now proudly appear on the label of every Elk Cove wine produced in 2017 and beyond.
This year our winemaking interns hail from around the US – Florida, Pennsylvania, Utah, California and Oregon, with a single international student from Italy. Their experience varies, between them they have an average of two harvest seasons under their belts working in New Zealand, France, Pennsylvania and Oregon. This year we have our interns housed on two vineyard sites: Mount Richmond and Goodrich. We are enjoying 12 hour work days, hearty lunches made by Pat Campbell and daily riddles – if anyone has any good ones send them along!
Also on our crew, Elk Cove’s Shirley Brooks, VP of Sales and Marketing. Shirley is taking a “break” from the world of selling wine and managing our sales and marketing team to punch down, sort, rack and clean.
We’ve brought in 90%+ of our fruit so far with some record-breaking days. Wednesday October 9th was our biggest day ever, with 110 tons landing on the crush-pad in one day. That’s enough fruit to produce 6,600 cases cases of wine. At 800 grapes/bottle, that means over 63 million grapes!
November is upon us & we finally are getting a chance to catch our breath. All fruit is now in the cellar with red ferments bubbling away in open tanks and white ferments undergoing slow cold fermentation in closed tanks.
This harvest has been a classic Oregon vintage with plenty of sunny days and refreshingly cool nights only interrupted by rain a few times in late September and mid-October.
With over 40 vintages under our belt and amazing hillside vineyards we were able to pick the right harvesting windows and pick beautifully ripe fruit. Even at this very early stage we are seeing ripe tannins, fully developed flavors & classic cool climate freshness in all the wines. As always it is really too early to make any pronouncements on the vintage so stay tuned!
On our estate vineyards we farm three vines in the Pinot family: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and the more unusual Pinot Blanc. These varietals are so closely related that occasionally a winegrower will discover two types on the same vine.
How does this happen? Well Pinot Gris is a natural mutation of Pinot Noir that lacks pigment in one of its two outer layers. And then there’s Pinot Blanc, which is missing the skin pigment from both layers. This is how the three Pinot grapes can look so different while sharing almost 100% of their DNA.
So are they the same wine? Absolutely not. Skin pigment plays a huge role in Pinot Noir, adding color, complexity and tannin. Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are both made as white wines, but Pinot Blanc takes on mineral components in a unique way, making it a popular varietal in Alsatian sparkling wines. Blanc is often compared with Chardonnay, with an acid profile that can vary considerably, from “flabby” to “zippy”. Blanc is known for citrus, melon, apricot, and pear flavors sometimes with almost smoky undertones.
Not many wineries grow Pinot Blanc, but it is one of our favorite varietals to make and we hope you enjoy it too. Cheers!
We got our hands dirty at IPNC, diving into the three dominant soil types of the Willamette Valley!
“Elk Cove is one of the Founding Wineries of the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) held in Oregon each Summer and it is by far the best wine event on the planet!
Educational, inspirational, and super-fun, this Pinot Celebration brings together the best winemakers from Burgundy, Oregon, California as well as top folks from New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Germany, Australia (too many to list) for a weekend of seminars, tastings, sharing of ideas and amazing meals in the relaxed collegial setting of Linfield College in McMinnville.”
On a knoll overlooking some of the oldest vines in the Willamette Valley, our winemaker Adam Campbell was joined by three International and American Pinot Noir winemakers for a blending seminar exploring the relationship between soil and aromatics and fruit expression. We tasted barrel samples of our La Bohème (Willakenzie/marine sediment), Five Mountain (Laurelwood/windblown silt) and Clay Court (Jory/volcanic clay) vineyards. IPNC guests then tried their hand at crafting the perfect blend!
Curious how soil affects wine? Our IPNC Soil Trilogy is a great way to experience three wines made with the same varietal, by the same winemaker, our own Adam Campbell, from grapes grown on each of the three primary soil types here in the Willamette Valley. We are very fortunate to farm Pinot Noir on each of the three major Willamette Valley soil types: Willakenzie (marine sedimentary), Laurelwood (windblown silt) and Jory (volcanic clay).
What is the signature of soil types in Oregon’s Willamette Valley? This is your chance to find out first-hand and taste for yourself.
Our Single Vineyard Wines are made in small runs, this offer is only available while supplies last.
On July 9th we hosted our Roosevelt Club Members for our annual BBQ. Thanks to everyone who made this event possible: Elk Cove staff, our Volunteers from the Forest Grove Swim Team and Pacific University Cheer, Harvey Brindell and the Table Rockers, Jessica Hansen of Middleground Farms, Zeph Shepard of Proletariat Butchery, Parties By Inez and most importantly our wine club members!
Sunset Magazine has featured out 2016 Rosé in a feature on Rosé wines that are “easy going down – and easy on the wallet.” Sunset is tapping into a nationwide craze for pink wines that’s not just about summer weather, but about people discovering how interesting and affordable rosé wines can be.
“As the weather warms up,wine-shop shelves get increasingly rosier, with rows of bottles in hues from the palest blush to vibrant salmon. When it comes to warm-weather drinking, pink is definitely the new white…”
Among Sunsets picks is our 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé, described as “Rose petals and stones; vibrant strawberry and lemon.” Read the full article in the May 2017 issue of the magazine, page 98, or at sunset.com
We’ve been featured on Grant’s Getaways! Grant McOmie is one of Oregon’s favorite travel journalists and we are honored to be included on this feature on the Oregon Wine Country Electric Vehicle Byway, otherwise known as Plug & Pinot.
A lot has been happening this spring! Here’s what’s been going on at Elk Cove over the past three months.
In the Vineyard:
We officially have 100% budbreak. We’re still about 2 weeks behind our average year so we anticipate a later harvest than in 2016. On a warm day this time of year you can almost watch the vines grow, they’ll gain an inch or more in height in 24 hours!
Travis and the vineyard crew have planted an additional 10 acres of Pinot Noir (Adam’s favorite Dijon clone 777) at Mount Richmond Vineyard. We still have a bit more room for planting at Mount Richmond. This is our largest vineyard site just outside the town of Yamhill, Oregon.
We’ve been mowing or disking in our cover crops. These grasses and legumes help us retain soil moisture, balance soil fertility and prevent erosion.
In the Winery
Winemakers Heather and Adam are tasting every single barrel in the cellar, some more than once! We can laugh about what a cushy job this is, but it’s real work trying to maintain your palate all day. Heather says peppy music is essential. They are choosing blends for each of our Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs as well as our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
We recently hosted members of our Roosevelt Club for our Spring Dinner. Chef Jessica Hansen of the Kitchen at Middleground Farms did a great job with the menu and Kari and Katherine presented Roosevelt magnums to 12 members who’ve been in our Wine Club for 10 years or longer.
Katherine, Elissa and the Tasting Room crew are gearing up for Summer. Oregon has such beautiful weather in June, July and August so we expect a lot of visitors in the coming months. We’re especially excited about our collaborative event with the Portland Opera, Opera in the Vineyard as well as our sister winery Pike Road Wine’s Eclipse Party.
Happy New Year! We have some introductions to make!
Fall 2016 saw the departure of Direct Sales Manager, John Bellncula who left to pursue his career in wine in a climate conducive to his passion for skiing in Colorado.
While the DTC Team buckled down for a busy holiday season, we searched for the right person to lead them as Direct Sales Manager. We were pleased to find Katherine Stalmann, a seasoned Oregon wine industry veteran with over 10+ years’ experience combined at Adelsheim and Bergstrom wineries. We are excited to welcome Katherine to the team!
On the Distribution side, we’re excited to announce the promotion of Todd Stewart, Sales Manager (USA) to Director of National Sales. Todd has been an advocate of ECV wines for over a decade, first on the Distributor side and then as one of our ECV Sales Managers covering over 20 markets for Elk Cove. Many of you know Todd and his tireless efforts to build the Elk Cove brand around the country. He’ll also support Elk Cove’s other Distribution Sales Managers. Please join us in congratulating Todd!
Claire Cunningham has moved to Port Townsend, Washington to be with her fiancée. We’re excited for Claire and the happy life changes she is making. Her markets have shifted to our other Managers and they’ll be reaching out to you shortly. I’m happy to announce that we have created a new role for her as our Corporate Sales Manager. We hope with this focus Claire can find more opportunities for both Elk Cove and Pike Road around the nation.
This shift obviously left a hole so we searched for another valuable Distribution Sales Manager. Please join us in welcoming Cam Christie to the Elk Cove family! Cameron Christie is a recent Portland transplant and hails from the frigid, wind-swept Canadian prairies (you can’t make him go back). He spent a decade working in wine starting in the Caribbean, then working harvest in Burgundy and then on to London where he managed retail operations for Uncorked Wine Merchants, one of the most acclaimed independent wine merchants in the UK. After a few years in London, he moved to San Francisco to work in sales for Bacio Divino Cellars (Napa), first taking over the CA market, and then expanding into business development across the US and internationally. Most recently, Cam managed a team of eight specialists across Northern California for Moet-Hennessy’s Champagne Portfolio. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, cycling, hiking, camping, film and literary fiction.
One final addition: we have a newly created position for the entire Sales Team, a Sales Coordinator who will be the ‘glue’ that holds all these moving pieces together. Please join us in welcoming Margaret Popenoe to this position. Previously, she was a Tasting Room Associate at our Pike Road Tasting Room. Margaret has an extensive background in the service/hospitality industry with over 16 years’ experience as a server, caterer, barista, yacht stewardess and tasting room manager.
We’re excited to have some new talented people join our team and we hope you all embrace them as well! Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!
The Willamette Valley was named Region of the Year by the 2016 Wine Star awards:
“The vintners who first explored the valley’s potential were pioneers. There was no history to build upon, no grapes to purchase to produce wines while they waited for new vineyards to bear fruit. Only one of the first dozen or so vintners had any agricultural experience.” -Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast Magazine
That person with the agricultural experience would be Pat Campbell, who grew up on a pear orchard and founded Elk Cove Vineyards with husband Joe Campbell in 1974. It’s incredible to think that 40+ year’s later, this region would beat out contenders in classic wine regions around the globe for this prestigious award. Congratulations to everyone whose hard work has made the Willamette Valley AVA what it is today. Cheers!
Check out all the Wine Star award winners at winemag.com
In their largest blind tasting ever, Portland’s had 12 local wine experts evaluate more than 1,200 bottles to discover the state’s best wines. You can peruse the complete results here. Our 2014 Mount Richmond Pinot Noir made the list, coming in at #42:
“Plum and nectarine. Black cherry. Big and robust. Pair with: grass-fed-beef burgers” – Portland Monthly, October 2016
Portland Monthly Magazine is a great source for what to eat, drink and do in the greater Portland Area and is found at the checkout stands and by subscription. This review will post in the October 2016 issue of the magazine.
Curious about the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and the winemakers who make this beautiful place their home?
Here’s a video from a few years back that tells the story. Jump to 1:45 if you’d like to see Elk Cove Winemaker Adam Campbell speaking on how strong community is one of the things that makes our region so special. This theme runs throughout the video for good reason. It’s the people that make this place what it is. And the gorgeous vineyards, lots of those are featured here as well!
Fifty top Oregon wineries join together to host Pinot Camp, the ultimate opportunity for members of the wine trade to meet the faces behind the labels while exploring the Willamette Valley’s stunning wine country. In 2016 Elk Cove hosted viticulture workshops and a panel of Oregon winegrowers, including our own winemaker/owner Adam Campbell and vineyard manager Travis Watson.
The first ever Willamette: The Pinot Noir Barrel Auction was a huge success, bringing in $476,000 to support the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. The funds will be used to promote our Willamette Valley wineries, including Elk Cove! Read more about the auction here.
This trade only event started on Friday with sub-AVA specific events. Elk Cove co-hosted an event with our neighbors at Big Table Farm, a great winery to add to your itinerary when you visit Elk Cove (they’re by reservation only so call ahead).
We are thrilled that our long-time friends at Zupan’s “paddled up” and won our 10-case lot of 2014 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir! Here’s a description of this special wine made with Shea fruit:
A ten case lot of Elk Cove single vineyard Pinot noir made from Shea Vineyard fruit.
We have a longstanding relationship with Dick Shea and have been making wine from
this five-acre block of Dijon 777 on the east side of the Shea property for ten years.
We produce a small amount of Shea Pinot noir each year for our wine club with
limited availability in our tasting room, so this is a unique opportunity.
Shea Vineyard is renowned for big, concentrated dark fruit character.
Elk Cove’s take on Shea tends to be less aggressive with ripe but refined tannins
for a more up-front red-fruit profile.
Elk Cove’s delicate Pinot noir fruit undergoes gentle handling through our gravity
flow system. This allows us to achieve the elegance, texture, and luscious quality that
are the hallmarks of exquisite Pinot noir. This Shea lot was fermented in two small,
temperature controlled steel tanks, one entirely destemmed and the other 90% whole-cluster.
Hand punched down twice daily then aged in barrel for 10 months in 35% new French Oak.
Brilliant red with refined jasmine tea and triple berry aromatics. Delicately concentrated and
juicy on the palate with loads of red cherry fruit leading to a lengthy finish of refined tannins.
“That Oregon, with its wet weather and short summers, could ever be famous for wine was in doubt until as recently as 30 years ago, when it began to receive international acclaim. Today the Willamette Valley is the epicenter of a world-class wine region famous for some of the country’s best Pinot Noir.
Elk Cove is one of Oregon’s pioneering wineries, established by the Campbell family back in the 1970s in the foothills of the Coastal Range (which also provides the mountain views out the windows). The wine has reached new heights under second generation Adam Campbell…”
We are proud to have made this list, there are so many great places to visit here in the Willamette Valley. Check out the whole list at foodandwine.com
Elk Cove’s founders, Pat and Joe Campbell were honored as “Legacy Winemakers” at the 2015 ¡Salud! Auction. An influential Oregon winemaker or pioneer has been the recipient of this award each year since 2007.
Thank you to everyone who participated and supported this year’s ¡Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction. Together we raised a record breaking $800,000 to support Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families. This year we donated an Elk Cove VIP Experience package that included a bubbly tasting at the peak of our Mount Richmond Vineyard and a private dinner for eight people at Elk Cove Vineyards prepared and hosted by Pat and Joe Campbell.
¡Salud! is a unique collaboration between Oregon winemakers and healthcare professionals that has provided access to healthcare services for Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families for over 24 years. Learn more about it at salud.org. There’s also a great interview with Tuality Healthcare Foundation manager Maria McCandless in MyWineTribe that is worth a read.
Harvest 2015 was the earliest on record for the Northern Willamette Valley and we were a little stunned when our first fruit hit the crushpad on September 8th. Autumn brought relief from the heat with mild evenings and cool rainless nights that allowed for slow, even ripening. We harvested fruit that was absolutely pristine and perfectly ripe, at a gradual pace that allowed us to give our full attention to each block.
We’d never survive the busy harvest season without our great harvest crew. Members of the 2015 crush team hailed from around the globe including South Tyrol (Italy), China, New Zealand as well as closer by Mexico and the Willamette Valley.