Saturday, July 28, 2012

Vista Hills Vineyard – A Tree House Winery in Dayton, Oregon

After visiting Domaine Drouhin I headed to the top of the Dundee Hills to visit Vista Hills Vineyard. They are a neighbor of Domaine Serene which I had visited the previous day Visiting all three of these wineries is a Pinot Noir lover's delight for they not only produce supreme Pinots but they do so in very distinctly different styles. Domaine Drouhin, for obvious reasons, has the strongest French influences. Domaine Serene seems very French and yet with definite Oregonian influences. Vista Hills Vineyards produces very bold, kick-ass, intense and rich Oregonian Pinots that will pair well with either a delicate salmon or barbequed steaks. Yet they are not Syrah-like and still maintain their grape varietal characteristics. If you are a Pinot lover like I am, I highly recommend visiting all three of these wineries!

Vista Hills Vineyard and Winery is a family owned business founded by John and Nancy McClintock. It started as a small vineyard in 1995 and today it consists of 45 acres of Pinot Noir and 8 acres of Pinot Gris planted on the 65 acre estate. The vineyard rests atop a hill, providing ample sun exposure on varying slopes, which descend predominantly to the southwest. The grape vines are planted in densities varying from 1,200 to 2,200 vines per acre. The Dundee Hills American Viticulture Area (AVA) is one of the most highly regarded appellations in the Willamette Valley. Blessed with volcanic Jory soils, the rolling slopes of the Dundee Hills range from 300' to 1,000' above sea level. Vista Hills’ elevations range from 500' to 800', ideally situated to maximize the intensity and complexity of the picky Pinot Noir grape. The vineyard is LIVE (Low Input Viticulture & Enology) Certified and Salmon Safe.

In November 2007 the unique 6,000 square foot Tree House Tasting Room opened which extends out from the side of the hill into the Douglas Fir and White Oak treetops overlooking the vineyards below. 

While visiting the tree house and enjoying the views I sampled the following wines:

My first pour was 2011 Tree House Pinot Gris. The nose of this wine is very aromatic with a pronounced bouquet of floral and tropical notes followed by orange peel, honeydew melon and pineapple. It was served a tad bit too warm and it seemed a bit tart on the palate, but it was rather crisp with medium (+) acidity and it had a prolonged finish. This wine sells for $18 a bottle.

The second pour was the 2009 Tree House Pinot Noir. On the nose this wine exudes smoked bacon, mocha and coffee which then transitions into dark black cherries, cola and a hint of pepper and spice. There is a certain quality to this wine that is in your face, “KABLAM!” This may seem a bit overwhelming to some Pinot Lovers who are looking for a wine with subtlety and finesse. This wine sells for $28 a bottle and I bought two of them but opened one with dinner later that night and paired it with a Filet Mignon – AWESOME!

The third pour was the 2009 Marylhurst Pinot Noir. On the nose this wine displays Dr. Pepper, dark cherries, a hint of smoke and spice. On the palate it has excellent structure and backbone with medium tannins and well balanced acidity. This wine sells for $36 a bottle and I brought two of them home.

The fourth wine was the 2009 Rollins Pinot Noir. On the nose I picked up cola, hints of smoke, black cherries and a hint of anise and spice. This wine is similar in profile to the previous Pinot but with more balanced and harmony and all of its attributes are well integrated. This wine sells for $44 a bottle.

The fifth pour was 2009 Tusculum Pinot Noir. This wine seems like a more mature and well balanced version of the Tree House Pinot Noir with notes of cola, smoke, black cherries and spice. It is similar in aromas and flavor but the profile is more well-balanced, restrained and well integrated. This wine sells for $44 and I brought two of them home.

My final wine of the line-up was the 2009 Skyraider Pinot Noir. Another fabulous wine with notes of blackberries, cola, cassis and spice with more pronounced fruit characteristics than the previous wines which were earthier. This wine sells for $60 a bottle.

To see more pictures of Vista Hills Vineyards, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

To visit or for more information:

Vista Hills Vineyard
6475 NE Hilltop Lane  
Dayton, Oregon 97114
Phone: 1-503-864-3200

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