Willamette Valley: 5 top wines from the greenest winery in America

Willamette Valley Vineyards: They even recycle their used corks
Willamette Valley Vineyards: They even recycle their used corks

Many wineries that make it start out small, receive some positive press, expand and gain a following, but rarely in the wine business do you see a leader that is as environmentally conscious as Willamette Valley Vineyards out of Oregon. Here is more about the vineyard's efforts to go green, plus five of its exceptional wines and where you can find them in the Twin Cities:

In 1983 Jim Bernau created his vision to make world class pinot noir, pinot gris (pinot grigio) and chardonnay in an up-and-coming wine region, the Willamette Valley. Bernau, along with 1,000 investors, pooled money to start the venture, and today there are over 6,900 shareholders and 125,000 cases of wine produced.

Along the way Jim became a steward of the land by being the leading producer of Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine. The winery is also one of the few Oregon producers to become carbon neutral. Each month employees are given 50 gallons of bio fuel for their vehicles, and all the delivery trucks and trackers run on the environmentally friendly fuel source.

Jim founded Cork Reharvest.org which recycles used corks. The organization has since gone nonprofit, and Willamette Valley Vineyards is still heavily involved. Cork forests serve an important function of maintaining unique habitats in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France, which are home to endangered species such as the Iberian lynx, the Iberian imperial eagle, and the Barbary deer.

Willamette Valley Vineyards hits the right price point for their base bottlings, and their single vineyard pinot noirs are worth seeking out.

2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards Willamette Valley Riesling $14.99 Slate, peach, and apricots. Some sweetness, and can be enjoyed with fresh fruits or Thai food. 87 points

2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Gris $14.99 A refreshing wine with floral, mineral, and orange peel. Try with light pasta salads or mild cheeses. 87 points

2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards Willamette Valley Chardonnay $19.99 Light in color and features floral, minerals, tropical fruit, and a complex finish. Pair with seafood. 89 points

2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards "Whole Cluster Fermented" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $19.99 A really nice wine from an exceptional vintage. Strawberry, earth, cranberry, and a cola note. Medium finish and great acidity. Enjoy with smoked salmon. This wine is created via carbonic maceration.90 points

2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards "Estate" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $24.99 This wine was declassified, meaning the price has dropped due to the difficult vintage. Don't be fooled by other critics, as good wine producers made outstanding wines in 2007. Light purple with smoke, minerals, floral, forest floor, and strawberries. Solid medium finish and aged in oak for 10 months. Try with turkey or a burger. 90 points

You can find the wines at the following wine shops:

Sorella Wine & Spirits Haskell's Cellars MGM or your favorite retail outlet

Also a video on 2 of their wines.


John Glas Wineglas www.wineglas.com

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