Red Ridge farms/Durant vineyard and Vista Hills vineyard and winery and Zerba cellars

What a lovely sequence of 3 wineries to explore today!

Our first stop was Durant vineyard/Red Ridge Farms for the spring pick up party.

See prior posts on Durant vineyard, Red Ridge Farms, and Oregon olive mill:

3.2.13 Check out Red Ridge Farms and Paley’s Place Bistro and Bar on KOIN TV!

5.19.13 Red Ridge Farms/Durant Vineyards wine and olive oil club spring pick up event

7.21.13 Red Ridge Farms/Durant Vineyards wine club summer BBQ

View this Durant vineyards video from their website talking about their process.

The spring pickup lineup were the following 2 wines:

2013 Southview Vineyards Pinot Gris

Tasting notes:

580 cases.  Our vineyard has a large planting of Pinot Gris.  My father, Ken Durant, has always enjoyed this wine for its easy drinking characteristics-Unpretentious, fruity, racy acidity, a hint of sweetness, and low alcohol.  This is a wine meant to be consumed on your patio, front porch, or when tailgating with good friends with a barbecue fired up nearby.

2012 La Casita Vineyard Pinot Noir

Tasting notes:

155 cases.  We poured this wine as a sneak peak at the winter pickup party.  I have mixed emotions about releasing this wine so early.  It is probably the “biggest” pinot noir we have ever produced, and we do not strive for “big reds”-honestly, quite the opposite.  However, you play the hand you’re dealt with and 2012 dealt some amazing wines and La Casita fits that model.  It is luscious, rich, deep and just damn good.  I hope you savor this wine as it is unique and quite exceptional.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

This is an interesting description as La Casita has always been my favorite and it’s not their poster child block.  However, I do tend toward bold reds and this one is luscious and earthy!  I’m holding onto my bottles of 2011 whole berry and 2011 whole cluster as long as I can as they are going to be so delicious!

Our next stop was Vista hills vineyard which is close to Durant vineyard.  They have a lovely pond at the front door.

Vista hills

The treehouse tasting room is such a lovely view of the vineyard!

Vista hills vineyard

Vista hills 2

The 2011 Piedmont estate pinot noir reminds me of what I enjoy about a great Nebiollo.

Tasting notes:
A polished estate Pinot Noir, with a sweet vanilla bean nose and juicy berry notes. Strawberry and raspberry give way to tempered tannins and a soft and extensive finish. 180 cases produced. 90 Points – Wine Enthusiast.

Vines: Vista Hills Old Block C and Block F
Clones: 667, 777
Barrel Regimen: 18 months in French oak, medium plus toast (40% new)

Our final stop was Zerba cellars which is on the way through Dundee back to Portland.  This is only a tasting room as the vineyards are in the Walla Walla valley.  They are an interesting contrast to the pinot noir in the Dundee AVA as I do enjoy bold reds and Italian and Spanish varietals such as Nebiollo, Tempranillo, Barbera, Malbec, etc.

Tempranillo tasting notes:

This medium-bodied red is sourced exclusively from certified sustainable vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley (LIVE, VINEA, IOBC, and Salmon Safe}. Intertwining aromas featuring black licorice, olive, leather, and caramel lead into a pleasing mouthful of dried cherries, and granite on the way to a smooth dark leathery finish.

Malbec tasting notes:

A medium-bodied red that does not disappoint.  This smooth red features rich aromas of huckleberry, lavendar, tobacco and granite that transition into dark cherry flavors and a dark spiciness that leads to a bright huckleberry finish.

Barbera tasting notes:

This light-bodied everyday Italian drinking wine showcases intense currant aromas along with allspice, graphite, and lavender.  As you begin sipping the wine prepare for bright raspberry flavors that fade to dark cherry on the way to a lightly oaked finish.  Enjoy with your favorite pasta or light grilled barbeque fare.

However, their “Wild Z” red blend is quite good as well.

Tasting notes:

This full bodied red table blend is 52% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon. Contains cedar, dark plum, and white pepper aromas that lead up to tantalizing flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, and cedar with hints of earth and currants. This perfect everyday wine pairs with a wide range of foods.

What a delightful afternoon of red wine tasting!


Walking Tour of Red Ridge Farms near Dundee (Home of Oregon Olive Mill, Durant Vineyards, and Red Ridge Farms)

What a delightful experience at Red Ridge Farms today!  I went on the 2-1/2 hour walking tour at Red Ridge Farms near Dundee.  They are the home of the Oregon Olive Mill and Durant Vineyard which is apparently one of the founders of the Oregon wine industry.  It was a bit rainy, however, it was still a great tour. It’s $40 per person and reservations and a credit card are required.

Our tour guide was Paul Durant who is the son of the owners.  The tour started out in the gift shop and then on to the Olive press where we sampled 3 types of their olive oils-Spanish, Greek, and Tuscan. We then hiked up the hill to one part of their vineyard and sampled Pinot Gris and Rose.  Then we hiked back down the hill to other sections of the vineyard and sampled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  I’m not a Chardonnay fan as they tend to be too “thick” and buttery for me.  I was pleasantly surprised as the Chardonnay was “crisp” and lighter and what our tour guide described as “neutral.”  Finally, we hiked up an extreme hill to return to the tasting room back by the gift shop.  We sampled a platter of meats and cheeses and a glass of the wine of our choosing.  I tried a bottle of the Pinot Noir from a different clone and region of their vineyard than what we had sampled earlier during the tour.

We learned a lot about the process of pressing olives into olive oil and the the importance of doing it as naturally as possible as opposed to adding chemicals.  We were fascinated that the olive trees were doing as well as they were for such a rainy region of the country vs. hotter areas like Spain, Italy, and Greece.  In their gift shop and their tasting room olive oil, wine, etc. can be purchased.  They also have a wine club that ships wine or olive oil or both twice a year-fall and spring.

When we first arrived at Red Ridge Farms, there was a beautiful view from the parking lot/gift shop of the rows upon rows of grape vines.

Red Ridge Farms

One of the Spanish olive trees near the Olive Mill.  We sampled the Spanish olive oil first.  It was grassy and bitey with a burn in the throat at the end.  It wasn’t my favorite.  We then sampled the Greek olive oil.  It was my favorite.  It was more mellow with good flavor.  Finally, we sampled the Tuscan/Italian olive oil.  It was my 2nd favorite of the 3.

Olive tree

This is not the BIG hill at the end of the tour, however, it’s the initial hill down into the sections of the vineyard with the Pinot Noir vines on the left and the Chardonnay vines on the right.  It was interesting to learn about the clones from France and California.


Rows of grape vines.  In some sections of the vineyard they rotated plowing the ground between the vines and planting grass and clover between.  They are a dry farm? and this keeps the soil as moist as possible.


I just realized that I forgot to take a photo of the new tasting room.  It’s quite a nice set up and has a wonderful view of parts of the vineyard.

After the tour it was time for lunch so we stopped at Red Hills Market in Dundee.  I had heard about this on Red Ridge Farm’s website from their Memorial weekend event.  They had catered pizza and other goodies during the event.

Red Hills Market

We decided to sample a veggie pizza and an Italian sandwich.  The pizza was delicious in its simplicity.  It both looked and tasted delicious.  It was primarily a margarita/peasant style style with a thin, flaky crust and the spring mix on top was interesting.


The Italian sandwich was quite delicious as well.  The bread seemed homemade (similar to the pizza crust in some ways) and the salami, cheese, and spring mix were delightful with a dijon mustard on the bread.


At the tasting room at the vineyard, we had noticed that they sell a “soda” of their wines-chardonnay, pinot noir, etc.  We didn’t try any, but noticed that the market had the chardonnay version.  It was similar to a sparkling pear or apple and was a nice, unusual refreshment option.

Wine soda

While at the market, we purchased some peppered smoked salmon from Newman’s fish company.  It was a bit pricey at $16, however, it was delicious for dinner atop fresh tortellini with Alfredo sauce.  The shredded parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper finished the dish off nicely.  The Salmon was perfectly tender and the flavor was amazing!  It would have paired nicely with a glass of chardonnay.

Salmon tortellini