Stoller Family Estate Vineyard & Winery

by artfuldiner on August 9, 2021

in Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

Stoller Winery - View from Tasting RoomStoller Family Estate has been named Oregon’s Most Admired Winery by the Portland Business Journal for four consecutive years. It is also a three-time winner of Best Tasting Room by USA Today 10 Best Reader’s Choice poll… And the moment you step across the threshold of the winery’s low-slung, solar-powered, LEED Gold-certified winery (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, the most widely used green building rating system in the world) tasting room you will understand why. The first thing you will see is the gentle rolling hills of the vineyard (pictured). The entire back wall consists of floor-to-ceiling windows, most of which roll all the way up in summer. It’s as if you are tasting wine right where the grapes are grown. And although the large airy tasting room is exceedingly modern, the breathtaking view appears to bring the outdoors in; somehow you feel like you’re communing with nature without getting your feet muddy.

Stoller Winery - Owner Bill StollerOwner Bill Stoller is the founder and CEO of the Stoller Group – whose brands include Stoller Family Estate, Chehalem, Chemistry, History Wine, and Canned Oregon – also the president and vice-chairman of Express Employment Professionals, and founder and CEO at Xenium HR & Employer Services. A native Oregonian, Mr. Stoller holds a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from Pacific University, and an MBA from Portland State University. His considerable successes in employment services allowed him to pursue his passion for wine.

The Stoller Family Estate is a 400-acre parcel located on the southern slope of the Dundee Hills. In 1993, Mr. Stoller purchased his family’s second-generation turkey farm with the vision of cultivating an enduring legacy for the land and the Oregon wine industry. Over the past two decades, he has transformed the property into the largest contiguous vineyard in the Dundee Hills with more than 225 acres planted.

Interestingly enough, the very factors that made the land a poor choice for turkey farming proved to be perfect for an award-winning vineyard. In 1995, Mr. Stoller planted 10 acres each of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, combining the experience of consulting viticulturists with innovative vineyard techniques to maximize grape quality. Today, in addition to the two signature varieties, the vineyard also grows small amounts of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Pinot Blanc.

Stoller Winery - Melissa Barr, WinemakerMelissa Burr is Vice President of Winemaking for Stoller Family Estate. Raised in the Willamette Valley, she intended to practice naturopathic medicine before discovering that wine was her true passion. Following her completion of Chemeketa Community College’s Vineyard and Winery Management program and Oregon State’s Fermentation Science program, she interned during harvest for several local wineries before becoming production winemaker for Cooper Mountain Vineyards.

Melissa joined the Stoller Family Estate in 2003 as the winery’s first dedicated winemaker. In 2013, she partnered with Stoller to launch History, a brand dedicated to paying homage to historic vineyards in the Pacific Northwest. Promoted to Vice President of Winemaking in 2018, she now oversees two winemaking teams – one at each of two production facilities on the estate – focuses on blends, and supports marketing efforts.

The 2018 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir is the wine of which she is especially proud. She refers to it as her “mosaic” because it represents all the different plantings of Pinot grown across the 200-acre estate: all of the vine ages – from 1995 to 2017 – and everything in between.

Stoller Winery - Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2018I first tasted the 2018 in the Purser’s Pub at the Inn at Perry Cabin during our recent trip to St. Michaels, Maryland. I was so impressed that the moment I returned home I ordered six bottles online. This is a lovely wine – there is simply no other word for it.  In the glass, it is a bright ruby color; and the equally bright nose is alive with the aromas of red fruits. It’s soft and elegant on the palate with smooth silky tannins and a long, light ethereal finish. The wine is aged primarily in neutral barrels, only 15% new French, so there is just the faintest hint of oak. And at 14.1% alcohol by volume, it is decidedly food friendly.

Wine critic James Suckling bestowed 92 points (100-point scale) and called the 2018 “Their finest release under this estate label.” And wine writer Gus Clemens also makes several important points. First of all, he notes that Stoller has upped production on this cuvée to more than 21,000 cases without sacrificing quality. He also points out that while the winery does produce some single vineyard and single clone efforts that cost more and achieve higher quality, this wine is “very nice.” Something of an understatement, in my opinion… However, I am in complete agreement with his concluding comments: “Stoller is doing something right, and we get a very approachable superb expression of Willamette Valley pinot at a fair price and a fair chance of finding it.”

And speaking of price… The 2018 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir will cost you $27.99 per bottle in Pennsylvania State Stores… On the other hand, it is available online from The Wine Buyer in Wayne, NJ, at $18.99 per bottle. This is where I purchased my six bottles, and shipping was only about $16.00. So, this is one instance in which you can save a bundle by shopping online.

Stoller Winery - Dundee Hills Chardonnay 2019The 2019 Stoller Dundee Hills Chardonnay is yet another stunning example of the winemaker’s art. The chardonnay grapes go directly in the estate’s press. The pressed juice is then collected and settled in steel tanks for 12-24 hours. From there, chardonnay fruit for the estate’s Reserve and Legacy wines goes into French oak barrels where the wine ferments and ages for approximately 10 months; this process builds both richness and complexity. The Dundee Hills Chardonnay, on the other hand, is fermented entirely in stainless steel tanks, which produces wines that are crisper and fruit-driven.

Despite the 2019’s rather low 12.5% alcohol level, the wine doesn’t feel at all underripe, just vibrant and succulent. And while unoaked chardonnays have a tendency to be rather austere and overly acidic, this one is exceedingly pleasant on the palate, winding down to a long, soft lingering finish. And the critics were quite taken with it as well. Antonio Galloni’s Vinous rated it at 91 points; Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast each bestowed 90.

The suggested retail price is $25.00. Pennsylvania State Stores are offering it at $19.99… but it is currently out of stock. The lowest price I have seen online is $17.29 at Wine Anthology, Clark, NJ…

Both wines are definitely worth seeking out.


Be Safe & Stay Well


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