“Wine is bottled poetry.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Named for a small stream that flows past the vineyard, along with the close knit community that lives in the area, Phelps Creek Vineyards are perched on a hillside just outside Hood River, Oregon. The small, “boutique” winery focuses on producing estate grown Pinot Noir and Dijon clone Chardonnay.
Welcome to Phelps Creek!
Among their many accolades are consistently scores of 90 or above by such publications as Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. Their 2008 Chardonnay was also named Oregon’s Wine of the Year.
When I was presented with the opportunity to visit the vineyard, sample the newest releases before the public, and barrel taste I jumped at the chance. My hosts for the day – Bob Morus, Founder and President along with Alexandrine Roy, Director of Winemaking and vineyard pup Rosie.
Bob, Alexandrine and Rosie
My wine country experience started with breakfast on the deck overlooking the vineyard. Some may say 10:00 in the morning may be too early to start tasting wine. Certainly not Alexandrine, who had just recently arrived from Burgundy, France, where she also oversees winemaking operations. Personally, I think that Chardonnay pairs quite nicely with cinnamon rolls and scones. Plus is there really a bad time to drink good wine?
Breakfast served with a view
As we enjoyed breakfast (and the INCREDIBLE view) Bob and Alexandrine gave what one might call a master’s class in this history of Oregon wine growing and making. I was flooded with information, from the origin’s of the vines, properties of the soil, the barrel aging process, etc. My favorite quote of the morning, courtesy of Bob – “Grapes are like kindergarteners. Everyone does better if there is no touching.”
After our meal, we moved on to the wine aging room to taste straight from the barrels. As this was a completely new experience to me, I have to say I was pretty darn excited about this part of the morning. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. To put it in very simplistic terms, what I tasted was a pretty incredible wine, with subtle undertones of grape juice.
Barrel Tasting in the Aging Room
The new releases
- 2012 “Lynette” Estate Chardonnay ($32 retail)
- 2012 Estate Pinot Gris ($29 retail)
- 2011 Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir ($29 retail)
- 2011 “Regina” Pommard Clone Pinot Noir ($49 retail)
The “Lynette” Chardonnay was named for Bob’s fiance. The “Regina” Pinot Noir was named for Bob’s mother, Regina and Alexandrine’s mother Regine, respectively. What a lucky group of ladies to have such tasty wines named in their honor.
My husband often jokes that I am a wine “consumer” rather than a “connoisseur.” When I walk into a tasting room and am asked “Red or white?”, I usually say give me a little bit of both. So it was really hard to pick a favorite. When you taste a Phelps Creek wine, what really comes through is a wine made with exceptional fruit and passion by masters of their craft.
Enjoying my day at the vineyard
I was invited to return that afternoon for their annual spring Wine Club event, also at the vineyard. Members were treated to the same tasting experience I enjoyed earlier in the day. As bonus, after their barrel tasting, they got to vote on which vintage will be bottled next year. Membership certainly has it’s privileges!
So by now you want to try their wines for yourself, right?
Take a drive through the orchards to their tasting room located at the Hood River Golf Course. Tasting fees are refunded with any wine purchase. Trust me, you are going to want to take at least one bottle home with you.
Want to have your own day in the vineyard like mine?
During the summer months, a variety of “Wine Country Experiences” are offered – such as “Yoga in the Vineyard”, instructional tours with a professional photographer, or the “Ultimate Experience” of food and wine pairings as you stroll through the vines. See the Phelps Creek Vineyards website for all the details and how to book your own incredible day in the vineyard.
Can’t make it to the vineyard?
No worries! Contact the vineyard to find out where their wines are available near you!
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, this “Wine Country Experience” was provided to me free of charge as a special guest of the vineyard. Contrary to popular belief, free wine doesn’t taste any better than that for which you pay.