AWG Correspondent

Jade Helm

J Wrigley Vineyards Photos

J Wrigley Vineyards Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, McMinnville AVA, Oregon

Reviewed: April 18, 2014 by Jade Helm
Published: May 9, 2014

The very first thing everyone needs to know about visiting J Wrigley Vineyards in Oregon's McMinnville AVA is that it is right where it is supposed to be. Just don’t count on your navigation app to know it. The second thing you need to know is that it is worth a little extra attention to the route and even a U-turn or two in order to visit this vineyard. The vineyard is at the end of the more beautiful and appetizingly named Cherry Hill Road, NOT on Gopher Valley Lane. Cherry Hill Road is on the sunny side of the mountain where the sweet grapes grow. Contact the tasting room for more help with directions.

J Wrigley is family owned and operated. John is the vineyard manager and winemaker, his wife Jody handles marketing and sales, and their young daughter Jordan is in charge of selling blackberry jam made from estate fruit. Their home is on the 200 acre property. The vineyard is very young; the first vines were planted in 2008, and the first bottling of exclusively estate-grown fruit was in 2011. Currently, only 10 of the 80 vineyard acres are planted in vines. As John continues to convert the land from the decades-old tree farm that it was into his vineyard, there will be an increase in production and varietals.

J Wrigley vineyards is at a fairly high elevation, and some people told the Wrigleys it would be too cool to grow wine grapes. John had walked every bit of the property. He explains that the poison oak and mint he found served as "the canary in the cave" indicators that grapes would grow well. The vineyard’s elevation helps ensure that the John’s grape have a balanced acidity and affords an excellent view across the valley to the Eola Hills. On a clear day you can see beautiful Mt. Hood.

John has an intimate knowledge of his land and puts a lot of thought and evaluation into clone, site and soil combinations to get the desired result. He can point out by sight the changes in soil type and claims “Variability occurs within a few steps.” John grew up around livestock, not grapes, but has jumped right in and taught himself vineyard management and winemaking. The resulting wines indicate he has chosen the right path.

The tasting room, at the very top of the property, is laid back with comfortable overstuffed chairs, reclaimed and repurposed finishings, and an attractive tasting bar. The massive dining/conference table is constructed from time-worn horse stall partitions and illuminated by lights suspended from an ancient wooden orchard ladder. Still, the best place to enjoy J Wrigley’s tastings may be standing near the panoramic picture windows or outside on the patio.

Tina manages the tasting room and is ready with a bright smile to guide guests through their tasting experience. Cheese or some other nibble is usually available which is very helpful when determining how a wine pairs with food - and everything we tasted scored high marks in that category.

Tasting room guests can currently sample the 2011 and 2012 Mac Cuvee Pinot Noir. These are made from McMinnville AVA fruit. While there are vintage variations with the 2012 being the richer, both are fruit forward wines with layers of baking spices. They are friendly and inviting - great bottles to enjoy with friends with or without food.

The Estate Pinot Noir (exclusively J Wrigley vineyard fruit) is more complex, and the 2011 and 2012 each reflect their vintage. The 2011 was the first estate Pinot Noir bottling and is marked with floral flavors and red fruit. The 2012 presents darker fruit and earthy, smoky aromas. Both are food friendly, and the 2011 will just get better with time.

The 2013 Pinot Gris strikes a perfect midpoint between super fruity and floral and the more austere styles of Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. It is one of my favorite renditions of this varietal. Shy on the nose, it opens to a dry, medium bodied wine with hints of peach, a definite current of minerality, and a long fresh finish. You can taste the cool climate and ancient soils. J Wrigley also produces a very inviting rose of Pinot Noir and will soon release Mae's Riesling named for John's Grandmother. Chardonnay is in the works.

We predict there are some exciting well-made wines to come from this relatively young winery and their interesting mix of terroir.

Address & Contact Information: 19390 SW Cherry Hill Rd. Sheridan, Oregon 97378. Telephone: 503-857-8287, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Mar-Oct: Fri-Sun 11:00-4:00.

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