Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Visiting Patrick Reuter and his Dominio IV Winery in McMinnville, Oregon, US

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Patrick Reuter in McMinnville

With a production of about 5000 cases, Dominio IV is one of the smaller wineries in Oregon. It is family run by: Leigh Bartholomew - vineyard manager and owner; husband Patrick Reuter – winemaker and owner; and parents Liz and Glenn Bartholomew - vineyard owners. The winery is based in McMinnville, south of Portland, while the estate vineyard is in the Columbia Gorge, east of Portland, near The Dalles.

Earlier this year, on my California, Oregon and Washington State tour, we started out in the morning in Walla Walla in Washington State, drove by – but unfortunately did not have the time to stop – Dominio IV’s blab la vineyard in the Gorge and arrived just in time for a winery tour and tasting in McMinnville, south of Portland, Oregon.

I had met Liz and Glenn Bartholomew earlier this year in Washington DC, where they poured Dominio IV wines: Meeting Glenn and Liz Bartholomew from Oregon and Tasting Their Dominio IV Wines

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Liz and Glenn Bartholomew in Washington DC


About two-thirds of Oregon’s wineries and vineyards are in the Willamette Valley. Buffered from Pacific storms on the west by the Coast Range, the valley follows the Willamette River north to south for more than a hundred miles from the Columbia River near Portland to just south of Eugene. But Oregon is not only about Willamette Valley. Oregon’s vineyards span the whole State, rising up and falling over the rolling hills and gentle valleys of more than 12,000 acres (4,858 hectares) of wine grapes. Oregon’s major wine regions are the Willamette Valley, Rogue Valley, Umpqua Valley, and the Columbia Gorge. Some regions straddle the border between Oregon and the States of Washington and Idaho.

Picture: The Wine Regions of Oregon

Wine was made in Oregon in the 19th century already, when Italian and Swiss immigrants planted wine grapes and started bottling wine. Oregon's wine industry was suppressed during Prohibition. It wasn’t until1961, when Richard Sommer set up shop in southern Oregon and planted Riesling, that the modern Oregon wine industry was borne. Other pioneers include David Adelsheim, Dick Ponzi and Bill Sokol-Blosser. Then the French also came with Domaine Drouhin bringing European sophistication to Oregon. In the past 40 years, Oregon has become one of the country’s top three wine States, with 350 wineries producing an average of 5,000 cases each a year. Most of it is Pinot Noir, but there’s also Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and modest amounts of Riesling and Merlot.

Oregon produces wine on a much smaller scale than its southern neighbor California. Oregon's biggest producer ships only 125,000 cases per year and most produce under 35,000 cases. The State features many small wineries which produce less than 5,000 cases per year. In contrast, E & J Gallo Winery, the US’ largest winery, produces about 70 million cases annually. The majority of wineries in Oregon operate their own vineyards, although some purchase grapes on the market.

Dominio IV

The husband and wife team Leigh and Patrick are the driving forces behind the winery, supported by Leigh’s parents Liz and Glenn. Leigh is in charge of the Dominio IV vineyards, but her main job is to be vineyard manager and co - general manager for Archery Summit, a producer of ultra-premium Pinot Noirs in Oregon. Leigh studied viticulture at the University of California at Davis and joined the team at Archery Summit in 2000. Patrick also studied at the University of California at Davis and is the winemaker of Dominio IV.

Pictures: Patrick Reuter

The estate vineyard is owned by Leigh’s parents Liz and Glenn; Glenn is retired from the US army. The winery is based in McMinnville, south of Portland, while the estate vineyard is in the Columbia Gorge, east of Portland, near The Dalles.

Three Sleeps Vineyard

“We grow most of our grapes ourselves in Mosier, Oregon to ensure that they are cultivated with biodynamic techniques that don't just sustain, but strengthen, the land. What we don't grow, we contract from sustainable wine growers in Oregon who share our farming values” said Patrick.

Picture: Columbia Valley

Biodynamic Farming

Dominio IV started farming biodynamically in 2001. “Biodynamic farming meets the organic standard including the prohibition of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but goes much further. The integration of animals and animal feeds, perennial plants, flowers and trees, water features, and composting is emphasized. Three Sleeps Vineyard is one of a handful of Oregon sites to attain Biodynamic certification by Demeter” explained Patrick. The vineyard is planted to Tempranillo, Syrah, and Viognier. Dominio IV also makes Pinot Noir from fruit purchased from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

McMinnville Winery

The Dominio IV winery resides in the thriving Granary District of McMinnville, Oregon. What was once a dilapidated, agricultural storage building has since been renovated into the perfect home for creating and enjoying wines.

They tore away the interior facades from previous remodels to reveal original walls composed of beautiful, local lumbers. Stacked, rough-cut two-by-eights glow with a natural warmth that makes the tasting room cozy and intimate: the ideal space to share stories and learn from Patrick or other pourers.

Pictures: Winery and Tasting Room

Beyond aesthetics, the winery's old woods provide insulation for the actual production of the Dominio IV wines. “Steady conditions ensure that in our processing, pressing, and storing rooms, we can accurately develop the best wines possible. Even the 250 oak casks, stacked like looming monuments, in our barrel room benefit from such constancy” said Patrick.

The Wines

Dominio is Latin for a feast or banquet, and power or strength. It is also Spanish for territory or dominion. “The IV refers to four people, four wines, four seasons and four vineyards of Dominio Wines” said Patrick.

The 4 wines from Dominio Wines are Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Syrah and Viognier. “Like our every changing moods, we present four wines for your pleasure. Each one entangles you in its own character. Tempranillo is often like the mathematician who sits in his forest lair, contemplative, complicated, and rich in conjecture. Syrah is the spice; she is the dance, and an evening of dangerous possibilities. Viognier is the evangelist announcing the benefits of a diet based solely on fruit and flower. And Pinot Noir is the amazement of a card trick, it is the feeling of a bath, it is magic at the ends of the fingertips” Patrick explained.

The Wines Patrick Poured

2008 Dominio IV Tempranillo/Syrah Blend “the technicolor bat"

The back label says: “By day, the Technicolor Bat waits while hawks and eagles take flight over the vineyard by day. With wings of licorice and brown sugar and eyes that glow spiced cinnamon and chocolate, this Bat is made to fly by night. Grown on a gentle east facing slope: Tempranillo (80%) Syrah (20%)”.

Picture: Dominio IV Wines

2007 Dominio IV Syrah/Tempranillo Blend "Spellbound"

Syrah 58% and Temprenillo 42%.

The back label says: “ You’re so pretty you’d make any mountain quiver. You’d make fire fly from the crater. If you walk across my camera I will flash the world your story. I will pay you more than money, not by pennies, dimes, nor quarters but with happy sons and daughter. To Leigh from Patrick via Woody Guthrie and Ingrid Bergman.”

2006 Dominio IV Tempranillo "Sketches of Spain"

The back label says: “The summer winds blow like Miles’ across the vineyard’s face. In the beat of the long days, you can find the sun buried within the vineyard’s skin. It grows fresh and green. Rolling in the breeze, it grows Tempranillo. Beneath the soil the roots drum up jazz notes staccato and velvet while whispering memories of Spain.”

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Meeting Glenn and Liz Bartholomew from Oregon and Tasting Their Dominio IV Wines

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