AWG Correspondent

Rob Boss

Durant Vineyards Photos

Durant Vineyards Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, Dundee Hills AVA, Oregon

Reviewed: July 2, 2014 by Rob Boss
Published: November 21, 2014

(Photos by Jai Soots)

On the way to just about everywhere in the Red Hills of Dundee AVA (it’s around the corner from Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin and Sokol Blosser), Durant Vineyards is a little gem to be found by Willamette Valley wine tasters. The tasting room is unassuming, the grounds around it are coiffed, though not spectacular, but there’s a lot just under the surface that makes this place a “must” on the list of places to visit. Behind the tasting room is a fantastic nursery with all manner of herbs and spices, flowers, and just about anything that grows in dirt—and an olive pressing facility. The olives were a lark, but they’ve taken to Oregon well.

Obviously, Durant’s focus is farming: 60, meticulously farmed acres produce highly valued fruit. 90% of the fruit is sold to other wineries. Rebecca, our tasting room maven, explained that the other 10% is made into wine for them, by winemakers whose work they think fit the varietal best. This turns out to be an all-star lineup, and the choices were spot on.

Our first taste was a 2013 Pinot Gris, which showed a nice pear note in the nose but still seemed shy. It was: it was just settling down, with a still-winking acidity, Granny Smith and green apple flavors, honeysuckle finish. Jesse Lange was the winemaker here, and he’s hard to beat. Next up was the 2012 Lark Vineyard Chard made by Dean Fisher of Adea. It’s all Dijon clone, neutral oak-aged, and featured vanilla, pears, and crème broulée and moderate acidity. Great stuff so far. On to Pinot Noir.

Heron Vineyards is planted with 100% Pommard Clone on 20 year old vines, so a good deal of complexity is to be expected. Few winemakers could approach the task better than Matello’s Marcus Goodfellow. Admittedly, I was prejudiced in his favor, but this 2011 Pinot Noir was my favorite of the day. The nose was a patch of briars, dill, and hot summer weeds. This was the moment I waved the photographer over to taste it, after which we were treated to light, elegant, tart cherry, raspberry, and rhubarb flavors. The bright acid made a great fooder and the earthy finish made for a thoughtful wine to linger with after dinner.

Last on the list was the 2012 Olivia Grace Vineyard. Since these are new vines—6 year old Pommard—Durant with a new, up and coming winemaker Chad Stock from Minimus. The dill on the nose was nice, and the ripe, fruit flavors show the rich, roundness of the vintage. It’s an easy drinking crowd pleaser.

The old adage goes, “Wine is made in the vineyard,” and few places prove it like Durant. They’re farmers, and quite good ones, growing herbs and olives as successfully as grapes. The olive oil tasting at the adjacent Red Ridge Farms is almost as intriguing as the wine. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the full tour. That’ll have to wait for the next visit.

Address & Contact Information: 5510 NE Breyman Orchards Rd Dayton, Oregon 97114. Telephone: 503-864-8502, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Tues-Sun 9:00-5:00.

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