American Wine from California and Oregon

This Thursday we will sample two whites and four reds including a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and red blend. The wines are from California and Oregon from appellations including Lodi, Napa Valley and the Willamette Valley.

Left Coast Cellars– “Left Coast Cellars was established in 2003 on Oregon’s 45th parallel. Left Coast’s 356 acre estate, of which 130 are devoted to the cultivation of wine grapes, includes estate-grown Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Viognier and Syrah. Originally planted in apples by the settlers of Holmes Gap, this area was also the earlier home of pear and cherry orchards. The Orchards block is now dominated by Pinot Gris plantings and one singular majestic oak tree. The grey clay and drought-ridden soil conditions of this block lend a fresh fruitiness and ripeness to our Pinot Gris.”

Left Coast Cellars The Orchards Pinot Gris 2012– Willamette Valley, Oregon. Aged in 100% stainless steel. “This wine sparks your palate; greeting with peach and light herbal aromas and dazzling with highlights of pear, green apple and crisp minerality. A great pairing with spicy Asian or Indian fare.” $16.99


Witness Tree Vineyard– “Like many wineries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Witness Tree Vineyard is a small producer of premium-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We are 100% estate bottled. Every grape that goes into a Witness Tree wine has been grown on our property. This gives us complete control over the quality of the fruit that comes into the winery to be made into wine. Not many Oregon wineries have this ability. Our site is exceptional and lies within a tremendously beneficial micro-climate. Located nine miles northwest of Salem, in the area known as Eola Hills, we benefit from a southeasterly exposure which allows the site to warm earlier in the day. Add to that a protective ridgeline to our west and you have a combination of climate elements that facilitates earlier ripening of our fruit than is found in many other vineyards. This is a major factor in the quality of our wines.”

Witness Tree Chainsaw Pinot Noir 2011– Willamette Valley, Oregon. “The “Chainsaw” Pinot Noir is a blend coming primarily from early planted chardonnay vines on which pinot noir was grafted. This wine presents aromas of fresh berries, dried herbs and scorched earth and maintains a pure, clean mouth feel with a core of fresh red fruits. This wine is meant to be enjoyed now.  It is an ideal pairing with a multitude of cheeses, roasted game birds or grilled, flaky fish.” $18.99


Van Ruiten Family Winery– “It was the dream of a young Dutch immigrant to grow quality grapes and produce truly outstanding wines. After his arrival in the United States shortly after World War II, John Van Ruiten settled in the Lodi area. His desire to have his own land was quickly realized when in the early 1950’s and with his personal “sweat equity”, John bought his first vineyard property. He then planted Zinfandel vines and began growing wine grapes in the Lodi Appellation. For over 50 years, the Lodi grapes grown in the Van Ruiten vineyards were harvested and shipped to other wineries every summer. The family wanted to branch out into winemaking, and in 1999 the first varieties of the Van Ruiten Lodi Wines went into production.”

Van Ruiten Chardonnay 2012– Lodi, California. “Aromas of sweet pineapple, peach and apricot blend together with barrel aromas of fig, honey and vanilla finishing with hints of white peach. Our “Chard” was hand picked and gently squeezed to allow the natural fruit character to shine through. Half of this Chardonnay was fermented in stainless steel and the other half was barrel fermented in small French oak barrels. They are then blended together to enhance the complexity of body, flavor and aroma.” $13.99

Van Ruiten Cabernet Sauvignon 2010– Lodi, California. “Our Cabernet Sauvignon is hand-picked from John’s home ranch. These vines come from clone 337, which produces very small berries. The small berries produce a wine rich in color and tannin. Inky black hue color of this sumptuous Cabernet gives way to expressive aromas of black cherry, cassis, and allspice. Aging in French oak barrels softens the otherwise firm tannins and introduces hints of vanilla and cedar on the palate. Luscious currants and pepper flavors are refined and balanced by a lingering finish. For all those who complain that Cab isn’t food-friendly, this one is. Ageability is almost guaranteed.” $16.99

Van Ruiten Old Vine Zinfandel 2010– Lodi, California. “After years of playing second fiddle to the so called “King” Cabernet, Zinfandel has finally become trendy, and this Lodi wine is Lodi Zinfandels undisputed champion. This Zinfandel fruit was hand selected from the first vineyard John Van Ruiten planted over 50 years ago and is among the families most prized grapes. Our Old Vine Zinfandel is packed full of blackberry, cherry and blueberry jam with barrel flavors contributing aromas of coffee, cedar, and finishing with anise.” $16.99


Whitehall Lane– “We are a small, family owned winery in Napa Valley’s historic Rutherford appellation. We own approximately 140 acres of prime Valley-floor vineyards including the Leonardini Vineyard in St. Helena and are committed to making the finest Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Reserve wine. Whitehall Lane was founded in 1979 but the history of the soil cultivation dates back two centuries. In the mid 1800’s, Napa Valley settlers were drawn to the deep, loamy soils and ideal climate, planting high quality grape vines at the Whitehall Lane Winery site. A barn constructed in the early 1900’s for equipment storage is still used today. In 1979, two brothers started the winery and directed their winemaking efforts successfully to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They named the winery after the road that runs along the south border of the property, Whitehall Lane.”

Whitehall Lane Tre Leoni Napa Red 2010– Napa Valley, California. “The majority of the grapes for this proprietary blend were grown in the winery’s six Napa Valley vineyards. The wine was aged in two-thirds French and one-third American oak barrels for 20 months. No single grape varietal makes up half of this wine but the three grapes making up the lion’s share of the blend include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. This ferociously fun blend is fruit forward and easy to drink. It’s loaded with ripe blackberry, cherry and floral notes that are bright and silky. It gains some weight and structure from the Cabernet Sauvignon that is balanced by the velvety softness of Merlot while Syrah adds extra jammy fruit.” $25.99


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