If a big, lush cabernet sauvignon is your winter parka, and a delicate rosé your summer togs, then Oregon pinot noir is that versatile, stylish sweater that carries you through spring. Lithe, vibrant, and fresh, these pale ruby pours, full of tangy cherry and leafy soil aromas, are what we crave with this season’s suppers. Because these bottles emphasize bright acidity and moderate alcohol, they are naturals with food. Lucky for us, Oregon’s winemaking pioneers ignored the naysayers who said it could not be done.
Before the 1960s, experts doubted that Vitis vinifera grapes could grow well in the Beaver State. But trailblazers like David Lett, Charles Coury, and Dick Erath — all of whom trained at the University of California at Davis, the state’s premier enology program — believed differently and ventured north to Willamette Valley. Those pioneers had faith that pinot noir, the finicky, quintessential Burgundian red grape, would thrive in Oregon’s cool and cloudy climate.