Colene Clemens Vineyards
After leaving Ayres Vineyards, we next moved on from the extreme southern end of Ribbon Ridge to the extreme northern end to newcomer Colene Clemens, whose panoramic views must surely be unparalleled in all of Oregon wine country. As we climbed the long hill to get to the summit, it quickly became apparent that the views up at the tasting room were going to be spectacular. And indeed, at the top, the views are stunning. If for no other reason, I really appreciated coming here so that I could get a better handle on the lay of the land. We were right where Ribbon Ridge AVA abuts Chehalem Mountains AVA.
|Looking Southeast: Chehalem Ridge on Left; Ribbon Ridge on Right|
|Stunning Arts and Crafts Meets Pacific Northwest Winery|
Of the four wineries we visited on our tour with Jack, this was the only one open to the public, but traffic was very light on a Wednesday afternoon. Facing the building, to the left is the crush pad and a large extended patio bounded by a stacked stone wall. And what a gorgeous crush pad, if such utilitarian things can be called gorgeous, it is! During lunch, the swallows trying to build nests up under the crush pad were making quite the ruckus.
|Now, That's a Crush Pad!|
But I have to admit that being driven to a gorgeous winery on a spectacular sunny spring day to have someone lay out a spread for a patio lunch and then bring you wine to taste, this, my friends, is a terrible thing to endure!
|Lunch, Courtesy of Our Driver, Jack|
|Delicious with Lunch!|
|The Scenery *Sucks* at Colene Clemens|
|Hotel Lobby or Tasting Room?|
Soter Vineyards, the next and final winery of the day was our first of the day outside Ribbon Ridge. We made the 20-minute drive to the Yamhill-Carlton AVA just east of Carlton to the eponymous winery of Tony Soter, famed founder of Étude Wines and consultant to Napa legends such as such as Araujo, Niebaum-Coppola, Shafer, Spottswoode, Viader, and Dalle Valle.
After making the long drive on an unmarked gravel driveway up a hill crowned by what appeared to be Douglas Firs, we arrived at a hilltop building that upon first inspection could be a utilitarian building. But the closer we got, the more this appeared to be a building straight out of Architectural Digest. The deep gables on each end, the deep and shallow lean-to roof over the entry, the long line of clerestory windows the length of the roof, and finally the epic glass entryway gave me to understand that this building is much, much more than the warehouse or old train station it appears to be at first glance. This phenomenal piece of architecture has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated, but you can see more details on the architect's web page. Unfortunately, the sun was all wrong for me to get a good shot of the building exterior.
Upon getting out of the car, we were greeted immediately and enthusiastically by a young female Chocolate Lab named Xoco. Xoco belongs to Hallie Whyte, the wine club manager at Soter, who hosted our tasting.
|Who's Having More Fun: Ann or Xoco?|
|Nice View, Huh?|
|Tasting in Style|
|The Only Winery with Non-Riedel Oregon Pinot Glasses|
|Part of Our Tasting Line Up|
|Happy, Happy Hour!|
As we sat and looked out at the hawks flying below us, we had a chance to reflect on our day and its superlatives.
Best Tasting: Patricia Green Cellars/Jim Anderson
Best Wines: Ayres Vineyard
Best View: Colene Clemens
Most Spectacular Tasting Room: Soter
I really want to thank Jack Cranley of Backroads Wine Tours for a spectacular day. Thank you for making all the arrangements and thank you for listening. Winos that are serious about seeing the best of Willamette should seek Jack out. Guzzlers need not apply.