Wines of Oregon’s King Estate

by artfuldiner on July 19, 2021

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

King Estate - ExteriorFounded in 1991 by Ed King, Jr., and his son, Ed King III, King Estate is a sustainably-farmed 1033-acre certified organic vineyard complex and winery located southwest of Eugene, Oregon, near the community of Lorane. In addition to world-class vineyards, the King Estate is home to organic orchards, vegetable gardens, and a host of native wildlife. The estate is also involved in an innovative culinary program that focuses upon the synergy of local, organically produced food and wine created just outside the winery doors. In 2006, the estate established a fine-dining restaurant adjoining the winery that sources organic ingredients from the estate gardens.

During the 1990s, the estate published two cookbooks, each of which focused upon recipes designed to pair with their two core varietals, pinot gris and pinot noir. The New American Cuisine King Estate Pinot Gris Cookbook and the New American Cuisine King Estate Pinot Noir Cookbook were both written in conjunction with the 13-part New American Cuisine television series broadcast by PBS and other public television stations nationwide. In 1997, New American Cuisine was nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award for best national cooking series. The cookbooks contain recipes contributed by world-renowned celebrity chefs, including Alice Waters, Roy Yamaguichi, Charlie Trotter, and Jean-George Vongerichten.

Wine writer Matt Kramer of The Oregonian considers King Estate the benchmark producer of pinot gris (aka pinot grigio) in the country. While the winery also makes pinot noir and limited amounts of chardonnay, it is mainly credited with bringing the pinot gris grape varietal into the national consciousness.

King Estate Pinot Gris 2018… And the 2018 King Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is a particularly gorgeous example of the winemaker’s art. “This baseline Pinot Gris really shines in this vintage,” the Wine Enthusiast noted, bestowing 91 points (100-point scale) and an Editors’ Choice designation. It’s alive with juicy fruit flavors and a marvelously fresh acidity leading to a lingering elegant finish. A delicious wine for warm weather quaffing.

… And it is also available from a variety of sources: PA State Stores, $21.99; Total Wine, Claymont, DE, $18.49; Online: Saratoga Wine Exchange, NY, $14.94; Empire Wine, Albany, NY, $15.45.

The 2017 King Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is also quite highly rated, receiving 91 points from Wilfred Wong of In the glass, it is a deep garnet color with bright red edges. The nose is fruit-forward with hints of ripe strawberry quite prominent. The wine is soft and elegant on the palate with excellent intensity and sweet oak flavors, the pleasant result of barrel aging. With its firm but subtle tannins, this is definitely a versatile wine that would pair very well with a variety of foods; however, it is also light enough to enjoy on its own merits, even in the heat of summer.

Once again, like the above-mentioned Pinot Gris, this is a wine that is readily available from a variety of sources: PA State Stores, $27.99; Total Wine, Claymont, DE, 25.99; Online:, $27.99; Empire Wine, Albany, NY, $21.99.

King Estate Inscription Pinot Noir2019 King Estate Inscription Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: The King Estate has launched a new brand of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir called Inscription, which was created expressly to demonstrate Oregon’s unique place among the world’s wines. “It’s not so much that Inscription is unique but that Oregon Pinot Noirs are themselves unique in the world,” notes King CEO Ed King. “We created Inscription as a marker for great Oregon wine. It’s our vow of authenticity, our promise to uphold the authentic nature of well-made Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.”

About half the grapes in this wine come from King Estate’s own vineyards, with the balance from acclaimed vineyards located throughout the Willamette Valley. The grapes were hand-sorted with each lot and individually fermented in small batches with up to 20% whole cluster inclusion. Stainless steel fermentation with daily punch downs and pump overs were followed by malolactic fermentation. For additional concentration of flavor and color, 10% of the juice was bled off the red wine during fermentation using the Saignée method (meaning “bleeding” in French. This involves making rosé as a by-product of red wine fermentation.). The wine was then aged for 8 to 10 months in French oak, approximately 30% in new barrels, before the final blend was made.

King Estate winemaker Brent Stone describes the 219 Inscription as “round on the palate with flavors of red fruit like raspberry and strawberry, joined by forest floor and subtle earthen notes and complemented by just the right amount of oak.” The Wine Enthusiast, bestowed 90 points and an Editors’ Choice designation describing the wine as classy and affordable. And, yes, it is quite affordable. The average U.S. retail price is $18.00 per bottle; $18.99 per bottle at Total Wine in Claymont, DE. Once again, however, a little online shopping can yield a number of bargains: $14.99 at Marketview Liquor, Rochester, NY; $14.95 at Empire Wine, Albany, NY.


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