Posted by: David Stewart | September 2, 2013

Story Bottles

I admit it – I’m a sucker for a good story.

Part of the fun of living so close to a world-class wine producing region is the opportunity to meet the people making the wine and to hear their stories. Sometimes the best stories are about wines which will never make it big outside of Oregon. Here are two that we encountered for the first time this weekend.

Redman Wines – We all have dreams. For the future, for our children. Perhaps for our legacy. There are more than a few small wineries in Oregon which represent the dream of a lifetime.

The story of the Redman Wines stems from Bill and Cathy Redman’s dream to do something with their lives that they really loved: owning a vineyard and making wines. Instead of regret, they took a leap and bought land, planted grapes and built a winery.

The dream suffered a blow when Bill died of cancer. When he was suffering in the hospital during the justly famous 2008 vintage, the winemaking community came out of the woodwork to help bring in the harvest and make the wine.

This is as much a story of a tight-knit agricultural community who will help each other out, even in the busiest of times for themselves.

Cathy was a warm and welcoming presence in the tasting room, talking with us newcomers and making us feel at home. They have one of the broadest selections of varietals of any local winery, from the rare Arneis grape, Chardonnay, Pinot, Blanc, Pinot Noir, Termpranillo and Barbera. The Labor Day event included tastings of all of these plus a generous selection of library wines, including that infamous 2008 vintage. The wines are good value.

The winery is located in the Ribbon Ridge area, near Ayres, Brick House and Styring. They are well worth a visit.

VX – It’s not every day you can get a history lesson with your wine. VX is named for the legendary hero of Burgundy, Vercingetorix. During the Roman conquest of the Celtic tribes in France, Vercingetorix defended the people, using a “scorched earth” policy to make the land uninteresting for the invaders. The only part of the land which was preserved were the grapes.

And thus a hero is born – albeit with an unpronounceable name.

The family was brilliant to invent “VX” as the more accessible moniker for their wines and winery. I first sampled their reds at Pinot in the City back in 2011. I have wanted to visit ever since and finally got the chance when our friends Scott and Mary Lee suggested we meet there.

Finding the tasting room can be a little challenging as it’s off the beaten path, but quite close to Portland. Off the Wilsonville / Newberg road, down a shady and twisty lane, past farm houses is a beautiful home which is available as a vacation rental.  With a good map – or a reasonable GPS – it’s not a problem.

The wines are good and an excellent value. John Grochou is the winemaker, who used to share facilities with Boedecker in NW Portland and shows a deft hand. Well worth checking out.

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