Marks Ridge is a bit out of the way from your typical trip down the Willamette Valley wine scene. Off Hwy 20 nearly to Sweet Home, you’ll find this family establishment up in the hills, with some beautiful views.
The vineyard produces Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer and rumor has it that they are going to be bringing in some warm climate grapes to play with this season.
Having only been producing their wines since 2006, you might be surprised to find out that the vineyards have been in place for over 30 years. Janet and Jay opened their tasting tasting room in 2008 and have since created quite a local following in the mid-valley.
Our most recent visit was last Sunday afternoon and honestly, I wasn’t sure we were going to want to sit out on the patio when we left town, it was a little chilly and overcast. One of the advantages that Marks Ridge has is that it’s at about 1200 ft elevation and about half way up the hill, the clouds broke and it was beautiful and warm.
Inside, we had Janet all to ourselves and since we hadn’t been in a while, went ahead and tasted the whole flight. Included on this day was their 2009 Gewürztraminer, First Blush (more on this later), 2010 Riesling, White Pinot Noir and both their 2007 and 2008 Pinot Noirs.
The Gewürztraminer, one of my favorite German wines assuming it’s not sticky sweet, is great this year. A little sweetness on the front but fades and the fruit really comes through.
First Blush, here I was a little apprehensive on trying it again as last years example was quite sweet, frankly sweeter than I enjoy, but Janet said that it was drier this year so I thought I’d give it a shot…and I’m glad I did. This wine is more in the style of many of the trendy “intentional rosés” being produced in Pinot country the last few years. Nice and dry, with a crisp bite to it.
In the interest in not having this drag on too long and seriously, I don’t want to take all the mystery out of your own visit, I’ll speed this along a bit.
The Riesling is very nice off-sweet example of this German varietal. The White Pinot, I’m going to reserve my judgement here as I don’t think I’d do it justice to try and explain it. I haven’t liked any White Pinot that I’ve tried so I’ll leave if to you to find out what you think.
This brings us to their 2007 and 2008 Pinot Noir wines. Both fine examples and great examples of their respective vintages. 2008 Pinot Noir has this cult following as possibly the best wines every produced in this region but I have to say, while Marks Ridge 2008 Pinot is wonderful, I actually prefer the 2007 a bit. It’s got a bit stronger nose and a longer finish. At $24 a bottle for either, you get to choose what you want to take home with you.
We took a break after tasting and Janet encouraged us to go up in the vineyard and take a look at what is promising to be a great harvest season, they will be getting to work in a week or two to bring in this years haul.
After our little stroll, Katie and I opted for a glass each on this day and enjoyed it out on the patio, overlooking the great views and took home a bottle of the First Blush to enjoy later.
This is one of the few wineries around that I truly believe has something for everyone. Whether you prefer white or red, dry or sweet or something a little unique in between, you’ll find something you like at Marks Ridge.