by The Traveling Winers
There is a lot in a name. For example: Alloro is the name of our featured Vineyard for this article. Alloro, an Italian word, also means laurel in English. The property on which Alloro sits has both Laurelwood soil and Laurel trees. And we will add our own two-cents here, Alloro means “darn good wine!”
The Alloro Story
The story focuses on one man and one piece of land. Founder and owner David Nemarnik was raised around farming, produce and wine with the family meal. With a Croatian born father and a maternal Italian heritage, his childhood also included much time spent in Europe surrounded by the European culture and its relationship to wine. On one fateful day on a bike ride through the Chehalem Mountains, David rode past a piece of land that he thought would someday be perfect for his very own vineyard. The day finally arrived, and David purchased the 70 acres in the late 1990’s and began planting his vineyard in 1999.
The vineyard has 34 acres planted, mostly Pinot Noir, but also some Chardonnay, Reisling, and Muscat. They are a small operation producing about 2,500 cases per year using only their own estate grapes and selling off the rest of the harvest to other Oregon wineries. Being located in the Chehalem Mountains, surrounded on the west by the coastal range of the Pacific which provides a maritime climate, and the east by the Cascade Range which serves as the border for the high desert, the resulting mesoclimate allows for warm days to ripen the fruit yet cool nights to bring the vine temps down. An ideal environment for growing grapes, especially the delicate Pinot Noir.
David is very environmentally conscious, extending this way of life into his vineyard, his farm, and his winery. Alloro is L.I.V.E. certified and sustainably farmed. David also raises cattle, sheep, and chicken, grows the grass for the livestock to feed, tends after a culinary garden, and, if that weren’t enough, also employs solar panels that produce enough electricity to run the estate as well as extra that helps supply the grid. Now that’s dedication!
A Walk With the Winemaker
His name is Tom Fitzpatrick and he has a passion. A passion for making wine in the most natural way allowing the land to speak through the grapes, and a passion for sharing the intriguing world of winemaking with anyone who expresses an interest. Tom, playing host during our visit, took us on a tour of the vineyards, a tour of the winery and cellar, poured our wines accompanied with educational tidbits on winemaking, and even provided a lovely spread for lunch which we ate on the winery patio overlooking the vineyards and sipping on some sinfully delicious Rosé bubbly.
Wisdom of the Winemaker #1 – Native yeast vs. inoculum
The Rosé at Alloro, like many of the wineries in this area, use Pinot Noir grapes as the fruit source. During winemaking, at least at Alloro, the Rosé is fermented using an inoculum yeast of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. For the Pinot Noir, they only utilize the native yeast that is acquired in the vineyard and the winery. How does this impact the wine? Tom explains: Native yeast includes Saccharomyces cerevisiae as well as other yeast species. Although the desire is for the Saccharomyces cerevisiae to ferment the wine completely, the other yeasts tend to get in there and start to do their “thing” and the end byproduct is the formation of certain esters. Now, these esters tend to add complexity to wine which Tom is actually seeking in his Pinot. So this works perfectly. However, when it comes to the Rosé, he wants it to be clean, crisp and fruity, and therefore the ester byproduct is not desired. So, for the Rosé, inoculum Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a pure form of the yeast, must be used.
Wisdom of the Winemaker #2 – The Slope of the Land Matters
Okay, so maybe your first thought is “duh!” It is kind of our first thought too. BUT…why? Why does it matter? Well, in Oregon in matters. With summers being cooler and the growing season shorter, southernly slopes are desired to allow the most heat accumulation which will assist the ripening of the grapes. In addition, if the vines are planted North-South, this allows for one side of the vine (East facing) to get the morning sun and the other side (West facing) to get the afternoon sun, hence riper fruit overall. Very simple, we know, but unless you stop and think about it and really understand the reasoning, the facts can fly right over your head.
2016 Vino Roso – This is a Pinot Noir Rosé with a bit of bubbly. Tom poured this selection with our lunch and he couldn’t have chosen better. Crisp, clean, full of strawberry flavors and nose. One of our favorites for both Rosé and bubbly.
2014 Pinot Noir – This wine is a blend of the different blocks of vines on the property. The first nuances that shown through were black pepper and Italian spices. This wine is a complete expression of the land of Alloro Vineyards. Tom says it has only a “small oak footprint” with about 25% new oak, not to overpower, but to enhance and allow the vineyard to speak of its originality.
2013 Riservata Pinot Noir – This Pinot Noir was selected to express a more heavy mouthfeel, a finer texture, with a bit more oak and a long finish. Although these characteristics would typically make you think of a darker colored wine, in this vintage, it actually is not the case. Because this wine is from a shorter growing year, the wine is lighter in color and intensity. Flavors come forth of candied cherries, strawberries, Italian spice, and tobacco.
The Winer’s Experience
|AMBIANCE||GROUNDS & SCENERY||TASTING ROOM|
|Elegant and relaxing, but not in a pretentious sort of way. Very Italian feel.||Immaculate. Again, gave us a sense of being back in Italy.||Warm and cozy, enough room for a small group or two but not much room at the tasting bar. They do have a wine cellar under the tasting room that they will show if you make an appointment.|
|WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE||CUSTOMER SERVICE||TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE|
|Well, of course, our couldn’t have been any better since we were served by the winemaker himself.||Tom was great. We were there on a day that they were closed so we couldn’t observe other staff, but something tells us it would be top notch!||Duh….we met with the winemaker…he knows a thing or two!|
Vineyard & Winery Information
|Alloro Vineyard||22075 SW Lebeau Rd, Sherwood, OR 97140|
|Thur – Mon 11 am – 5 pm|
|MUSIC||WINE CLUB||TASTING FEE|
|By Appointment||No, but can bring your own picnic||Several food-related events, check calendar|