Adventures in North American Wine Touring

My wife recently turned “X” years old. Sorry to use a math variable but I will not survive her wrath if I use numbers here. In celebration, I took her to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. We stayed at the decadent Allison Resort and Spa—pricey but so worth it for that special occasion.

One morning we set out to explore one of the best Pinot Noir regions in the world next to Burgundy and landed at Vidon Winery near Newburg. I had researched this winery carefully and decided it was the perfect destination for a science and calculus teaching nerd like myself.

Owner Don Hagge will tell you he is only a farmer but that is not the whole story. He was a NASA scientist who was Chief of the Physics Branch for the Apollo Space Program for missions 7 through 13 so he was there in Houston cheering Armstrong and Aldrin’s moon landing. In his eighties, he is still the brawn behind Vidon Winery doing the majority of the work in the vineyard. So, who is the brains behind the wine?

That would be David Bellows. He has a Ph. D in Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and did his postdoctoral studies on saccharomyces cerevisiae (wine yeast) in Toronto. Can you imagine a better pedigree to become a winemaker?

David spent about two hours with us that morning walking the vineyards and explaining the unique soils of the Willamette Valley including the volcanic Jory and the sedimentary Willakenzie. And yes, he mentioned the yeast. He also led us through a magnificent tasting of their famous 3 Clone Pinot Noir and then rocketed us to the Apollo Chardonnay, the Saturn Syrah and the Explorer Tempranillo.

Why not give the Willamette Valley a try on your next wine vacation and learn the stories of these smaller family run wineries that are rocking Pinot Noir?

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