My latest in Wine Business Monthly Magazine:
Oregon Sauvignon Blanc Enters the Flagship Fray
by L.M. Archer
More than fifty years ago, Oregon winemakers established Pinot Noir as their flagship red variety. Today, the state still struggles to find a signature white wine variety.
Initially, pioneer David Lett championed Pinot gris, a cool-climate Alsatian variety. Later, others touted Chardonnay, Burgundy’s flagship white variety, as a natural contender. However, another white variety emerged as a surprising alternative – Oregon Sauvignon Blanc.
Playing at the Fringes
Many credit King Estate for putting Oregon Sauvignon Blanc on the map. “I think we were the first, and maybe the only, that have national distribution of Sauvignon Blanc, so I would I think it’s safe to say we’re the largest producer,” says Brent Stone, King Estate COO and winemaker. North America’s largest Biodynamic® certified vineyard located south of Eugene, King Estate bottled their first vineyard-designate Sauvignon Blanc in 2013. Encouraged by the market response, they initiated national distribution in 2018.
But the history of Oregon Sauvignon Blanc predates King Estate’s first forays. More than twenty years ago, a trio of Willamette Valley winemakers bottled a bit, dubbing themselves “The Oregon Sauvignon Blanc Cartel.” “It was a big joke, because it was us, Jay Christopher, and Andrew Rich,” recalls Jim Anderson of Patricia Green Cellars. “Three wineries that made any Sauvignon Blanc – certainly any appreciable amount of Sauvignon Blanc – in the state of Oregon.” Anderson and co-owner Patricia Green purchased their 52-acre property on Ribbon Ridge in 2000, which included a block of Sauvignon blanc vines planted in 1990.
“When we got here, this place had Sauvignon Blanc growing,” Anderson says. “[We thought], well, we like Sancerre, we like Pouilly Fumé – maybe we can make something along those lines out of this property?” READ MORE (possible paywall.)