Posted by: David Stewart | September 25, 2012

Amity Vineyards proves history repeats itself

If you want to find this place, you better have a GPS or really good directions. There is no signage to direct you onto Rice Lane in Amity, Oregon or up a long winding dirt road up hill to Amity Vineyards. You probably won’t stumble on this place by accident, you need to be headed there on purpose. But it’s worth the trip.

I thought the last of the spectacular 2008 Willamette Valley Pinots had debuted with the Domaine Serene Monogram. But this month also saw a new 2008 Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir from Amity.

2008 was celebrated as a stellar year in Willamette – complex wines with good intensity which would improve with cellaring. Some producers took advantage of the strength of 2008 to make some of their best product. And a few took the opportunity to charge a bit more for the result.

Amity has a long and storied history as one of the pioneer wineries in Oregon. I remember them from when we moved here in 1984 when my sister introduced us. Myron Redfern is an icon of Willamette wine country but turned over day-to-day winemaking operations to Darcy in 2007. Now he runs overall operations and sales at the winery.

You can buy a fine 2009 Amity Pinot at Costco for about $15, and you won’t be disappointed. At the top of the Pinot scale, their just-launched 2008 Winemakers Reserve ($50) is complex and intense, with a note of quince jam on the nose. It needs some time in the cellar to balance out the acids and tannins. The 2007 Winemaker’s Reserve ($40) is very accessible now and has excellent intensity for this cool-weather vintage. We celebrated last Thanksgiving with a 30-year-old bottle of Amity Winemaker’s Reserve which we really had no right to expect to be decent since that is way beyond its lifespan. But it was a beautiful bottle with terrific fruit still popping from the glass.

Amity has a very broad range of whites and reds. Their reds are mostly Pinots, from single-vineyard Pinots from $35 to an organic eco wine ($22). The Bass Hill single-vinyard wine is really terrific if you can find it.

The whites include many of the old standby Oregon varietals which most wineries don’t seem to make any more, like Riesling ($15), Gewurtztraminer ($20) and Sauvignon Blanc ($20). But unlike the old days, these are made dry, with very low residual sugar. They also have Pinot Blanc ($17) and Chardonnay ($25), which are making a comeback in Oregon lately. All have a very nice balance of acids with fruit which make them refreshing and food-friendly, and not a bit sweet like the soda pop wines of old.

But if you like the sweet stuff, Amity also has a couple of desert wines, a late harvest Riesling being one of the notable options. So get out on the roads, familiarize yourself with a good map, and visit Amity for some really historic – and fine winemaking.



  1. I hope I can find this in the Costco in Southwest Florida. Seems many of those lovely Williamette Valley wines don’t make it east. I fell in love with the area on a recent trip and am enjoying reading your blog.

  2. I’m glad you like the blog! I’ll try to keep it up.

    It can be quite variable between Costcos across the country. I have seen Erath Pinot most often… you’ll have to let me know!

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