On my last day of tasting, I decided to visit the pioneers of the wine industry in the Willamette Valley. My first visit of the day was to Sokol Blosser which has a beautiful tasting room overlooking some of its vineyards. They had a refreshing Rose and a variety of Pinot Noirs from fairly generic blends to single block bottlings, of which the latter were much more intriguing.
My next stop was Erath, another early winery in the area. Again, their wines were enjoyable, but nothing that I found to be outstanding. I've had, and enjoyed their 2006 Willamette Valley and also have a 2008. Relatively inexpensive and a well-made wine.
Upon leaving Erath, I passed by Maresh Winery and was seduced by the "5 wines for $5" sign out front which also, as it turns out, is one of the earliest wineries in Oregon. Here, I met Jim, who is the real deal. No pretentions. Alone in the tasting room with, Jim, wearing his bib overalls, he happily talks about all of the wines. A recommendation for Maresh is to get glasses that will better show the wine. The glasses at this winery are the smallest I've ever encountered. I'm interested in seeing how the 2007 Red Hills Vineyard that I purchases will taste in a better stem.
My next stop was Eyrie, owned by the Letts (David now passed) who started it all. Jacques, my tasting room host, was very interesting and very talkative. I was in the tasting room with a couple from Belgium who decided to visit because they had had one of Eyrie's wines the night before at a local restaurant. The Belgian couple's enthusiasm encouraged Jacques to open a wine that was not on the tasting menu "Black Cap", which was my favorite that he poured. As an added benefit, Jacques showed us how to cleanly open a wax-sealed bottle (which I have since tried with no success). The couple had hoped to have a tour of Domain Drouhin, but had not been successful in scheduling the appointment. Jacques called the winery to try to get them in, but the last tour had started earlier in the day. As a consolation, Jacques offered to tour Eyrie's winery, but I had to leave to make my next appointment, which turned out to be the highlight of the day.
Et Fille shares a winemaking space with about 5 other wineries, so when I entered the tasting room, I told the tasting room staff that I had an appointment with Jessica, who arrived shortly. We tasted in the barrel room which was shared with another winery. Jessica, the daughter of a father-daughter team had brought out a white, rose and four Pinots. Before we began, she asked if I was mostly interested in reds, which I said I was. So, she said instead of the white and rose, she would open another Pinot. Jessica proceeded to open and double-decant 5 bottles for this tasting. Her wines are all very well-made, complex offerings. Midway through the tasting, she said she wanted to get another bottle so that I could taste the '07 against the '08 of the same vineyard. I left the winery having purchased more than I had intended, but the generosity of her time (1 hour) and the quality of the wine made the decision an easy one.
I had one final appointment and after driving 25 minutes, I called the owner's cell phone to find out which building I should go to. He was apologetic and explained that his daughter's soccer team had unexpectedly made it to the final match in a tournament and that he was not in the area. He offered to see me the next day, but I needed to return home. I was happy to have Et Fille as my final tasting experience for this trip.