AWG Correspondent

Rob Boss

Hawkins Cellars Photos

Hawkins Cellars Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon

Reviewed: September 14, 2014 by Rob Boss
Published: February 6, 2015

(Photos by Jai Soots)

It's always fun to taste wines from a new, up and coming wine maker, however humble the beginnings might be. Hawkins Cellars' tasting room resides in the middle of Dundee, offering the company's tiny production of a thousand cases. The wine is currently produced at the reputable Methven Vineyards' facility. Winemaker Thane Hawkins is still pretty new on the scene, having enjoyed a successful career in the film industry (his is an interesting story that can be found on the winery's website) and most recently working as Methven's assistant winemaker. Like most young producers, the wines can be a little bit hit or miss, but the important thing here is finding and recognizing potential, which we did.

Our tasting started with the 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris. There was a faint coconut note in the nose, with a crisp acidity, apple and pear flavors. Next was Hawkins Cellars' 2013 Barrel Select Viognier, which is fermented 50/50 in stainless steel and oak barrels. There was a lychee note on the nose, but it was a strange one; a bit mediciney (think of Laphroaig Scotch). Star fruit and pear followed, which was pleasant. The 2013 Stormy Morning Vineyard Rose was also enjoyable if imperfect; an unfortunate vinyl note underneath the white peach and strawberry aromatics. Peaches, nectarines and strawberries filled the mouth, and I noted that the wines were getting progressively better. Still, those chemical notes are flaws, and every wine maker makes his share of them along the way.

Shifting to reds moved everything up a notch or two. Opening this round was the 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, which showed a fresh fruit nose. The wine had plenty of structure and defined, round cherry flavors—and a lot of refinement the others hadn't shown. Next pour was a 2012 Columbia Valley Sangiovese with a nice fresh strawberry nose. But the flavors were beautiful. Fresh, ripe, dusty strawberries and raspberries were delicious and plentiful. We took one of these home with us.

Our last pour was the 2011 Reserve Syrah, made from Kiona Vineyards fruit, which we were told is one of the oldest vineyards in Washington's prestigious Red Mountain AVA. There was plenty of fresh, crushed fruit in the nose, with dark, black plum and black cherry flavors here. The neutral oak aging was a good call, with the simpler, juicier style being more accessible to new drinkers who will be wine club members later on.

On the whole, the wines were pretty good. The tasting room was modest but there was a nice patio in the back to enjoy a glass of wine if you were so inclined, and a couple of ladies had settled in at the bar just before we got there—such was the friendly personality of the tasting room associate. Hawkins Cellars isn't the most glamorous tasting room in the Valley, but if you're a regular wine taster in the Dundee Hills, it's worth looking in on them from time to time to check their progress. There will likely be even better things coming from them in the future.

Address & Contact Information: 990 N Hwy 99W Dundee, Oregon 97115. Telephone: 503-554-9885, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Fri-Sun 11:00-5:00.

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