I am a huge Burgundy lover who has been recently converted to Oregon (Willamette Valley) Pinot Noir as a great New World approach to the grape. So, when I saw the [2003-2006 RR Ridgecrest Vineyards Pinot Noir Vertical] offer was both for a vertical of the wine AND a private tour with Harry Peterson-Nedry, I couldn’t pass it up. Even better, my best friend had just moved to Portland, so it gave me an excuse to make the road trip down from Seattle so that my wife and I, and my friend and his wife, could find out just how good RR really is.
The four of us showed up at the winery right on time, at 1:00 PM, as we had agreed with Harry’s daughter, Wynne. Wynne unexpectedly was offered a position on a Portland to Coast relay team and couldn’t join us, but Harry was a delight and a treat all on his own.
As far as experience with wine and tasting, we ranged from Stephanie, who “doesn’t like red wine” and had never been wine tasting to Eric, who “is on a quest to find the perfect Pinot Noir”. For all four of us, a private winemaker tour would be a treat. Stacy had only ever had one private tour (Sparkman Cellars in Woodinville, WA) and Anthony and Stephanie never had one.
When we arrived, Harry greeted us and brought us in the winery’s tasting room. This is where he and his colleagues taste wine, not where the general public hangs out. The public tasting room is down the hill in the town of Newberg. We started by talking about the various vineyards he owns and works, the history of RR, Chehalem and the area generally and watching as a tray of cheese and bread was laid out.
Then we started our tasting with a Chardonnay in a Burgundy style (his 2009 INOX) to season our palates and our glasses, as Harry put it. And everyone was raving right from there. THEN we went back in his cellars and he cracked open a barrel of the 2010 RR…and Stephanie said, “wow, I don’t like red wine but I love this!” Along the way he explained the use of barrels, stainless fermenting tanks, bottling wine and much more. We all learned an amazing amount about the winemaker’s craft.
Once we got back to the table, we started nibbling at the cheese while Harry showed us more of his craft. We tried a Riesling made in a semi-sweet style, his 2010 Sext. It’s a great wine for summer appetizers on the deck OR for matching up with a great dessert after dinner. After that, we got down to business.
Harry opened his 2008 RR and then his 2006. And to say that we were wowed is an understatement. The best part is that Harry walked all of us through what we should taste, why the wine was that way (terroir, vintage, winemaker’s craft) and what the wine was likely to do as it aged. And we had a new convert to red wine when we were done with it all! And Eric had found a fantastic new Pinot winery.
What is the short version of all of this? This was a fantastic idea, pairing up some really high quality wines and a private tour. I am planning to have a vertical tasting party with the RR vertical I bought and now I can add some local color and story to the gathering. More than that, this purchase and experience has got me even more excited about Lot18, more willing to trust your recommendations when I’ve never heard of the winemaker or winery or have little experience with the region, style, etc.
I can’t say enough good things about this whole experience. The private tour with Harry was worth the price of the vertical. My friends and wife were stunned at what we got and double and triple checked how much I had paid. I view the wine I bought as free and the money I spent as paying for one of the best wine tours I’ve ever had.
I just wanted to let you know what a fantastic experience this was and that I will continue to be a loyal Lot18 member now!