Attention all wine connoisseurs: if traveling to Burgundy isn’t in your foreseeable travel plans, don’t despair.
Instead, plan a trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a pinot noir wine region that shares a similar climate and wine-producing style to Burgundy (both places are located on the same latitude).
Celebrating 30 years, family-owned and operated Domaine Drouhin Oregon is one of the most renowned pinot noir producers in the region.
Utilizing the same unparalleled skill and expertise cultivated in Burgundy since 1880, Drouhin Drouhin is run by the famed French winemaking family’s fourth-generation of siblings: Philippe Drouhin, Véronique Drouhin-Boss, Laurent Drouhin and Frédéric Drouhin.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon’s 225-acre estate atop the Dundee Hills overlooks the lush, vibrant Willamette Valley. With 124 acres of densely planted vineyards surrounding you, its spacious terrace is a stunning, tranquil place to relax and enjoy a glass (or several) of fine wine.
The Drouhin Family is extremely committed to utilizing the most efficient and nature-friendly farming practices, choosing completely all-natural methods to encourage the growth of its vines. In addition, each vine is farmed sustainably on L.I.V.E. certified vineyards.
The entire harvesting process is done by hand to ensure the greatest amount of care every step of the way. 100 percent of the wine is crafted by hand in the Drouhin family’s landmark four-level gravity flow winery—the first of its kind in Oregon.
I had the privilege of participating in the 30th anniversary festivities.
These included guided vineyard hikes, exclusive tastings of vintages from Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Roserock—the latest of the Drouhin family’s expansion into the Eola-Amity Hills—and Brugundy-based Maison Joseph Drouhin as well as magical, starlit dinners in the gardens of the estate, alongside the vineyards.
I admit that, prior to meeting each of the siblings along with head winemaker Véronique’s three children (each of whom has a special cuvee named after him or her,) I was expecting a family of possibly pretentious people.
But despite their status as a prominent family steeped in a successful, wine-making legacy spanning the globe, they were an absolutely lovely, welcoming and genuinely kind group of wine-making pros.
Philippe Drouhin is the viticulture expert, Véronique Drouhin-Boss the winemaker rock star, Laurent Drouhin the U.S. face of the brand and Frédéric Drouhin oversees all operations (and makes sure all siblings get along) as President. These four work seamlessly as a team, each offering their expansive knowledge and strengths to the historic wine brand.
Together, they carry on the Burgundian winemaking traditions in the Willamette Valley. As their slogan goes, “French Soul, Oregon Soil.”
During the special vertical tasting prior to the 30th Anniversary Grand Dinner, guests had the honor of sampling the estate’s very first vintages, including a 1989 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Classique. Here, Véronique Drouhin-Boss reflected on the long and bumpy, though ultimately successful, journey to becoming the award-winning Oregon winery it is today.
“In March of ‘89, the ground was broken here to build the winery and in the summer of ‘89 we made our first wine. Conditions were not easy,” said Véronique. “We had no roof, we couldn’t use the cellar, the fermenters had been outside and were full of sap, the barrels were completely dry and leaking as fast as we were filling them, so there were a lot of things that were not easy. But now, they’re all good memories.”
In addition, her son Arthur and daughter Laurène were present at the celebration, making for an even more rare and momentous occasion. I felt like I was crashing a very classy family reunion—it was that touching and genuine.
“When I taste the first vintages of the Arthur, Laurène and Louise, I am profoundly reminded of the day each of them came into this world,” said Véronique.
Soon thereafter both children said a few words commemorating the anniversary, their namesake wines and how important family is to them.
“We don’t choose our family, and I didn’t choose my name, but I chose my wine,” said Laurène. “1992 is a very special year—my parents got married and I was born—this was the year everything started for me. I would like to thank my mom because we both age pretty well.”
Before the night of incredible food, wine and comradery was over, the four siblings and their children performed the “ban bourguignon,” Burgundy’s traditional hymn sung to honor and celebrate a joyous event. In this case, it was directed in honor of their father, grandfather, great grandfather and their always supportive, loving guests.
For sips of the aforementioned Chardonnay Arthur, Pinot Noir Laurène, Pinot Noir Louise and more, tastings are offered daily from 11am to 4pm. For more information on the estate and wines, click here.
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