Fall 2020

Abacela tops spirited tasting of Northwest port-style, fortified wines

Abacela owners Earl and Hilda Jones are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their winery and Fault Line Vineyards in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. Abacela’s 2014 Estate Port was the top wine of the Wine Press Northwest blind judging of 67 Northwest fortified wines.
Abacela owners Earl and Hilda Jones are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their winery and Fault Line Vineyards in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. Abacela’s 2014 Estate Port was the top wine of the Wine Press Northwest blind judging of 67 Northwest fortified wines. Andréa Johnson Photography

Earl Jones of Abacela in Southern Oregon blazed the trail in the Pacific Northwest with his internationally acclaimed work with Tempranillo, the popular Spanish red grape that factors into the world-famous fortified wine of Portugal known as Port.

This summer’s tasting by Wine Press Northwest of fortified wines from Washington, Oregon and Idaho also pointed out that the decades of researching Tempranillo by the Kentucky native and predicting its success in the Umpqua Valley have served Jones and his customers well when it comes to producing Port-style wine in Roseburg.

“We selected the site specifically to match that of Spain’s finest Tempranillo growing areas and realized instant success,” Jones says. “We have persisted with other varieties only if there is an excellent match to their European homeland.

“That’s why we tried Port varieties,” Jones added, “and with our family’s love of family reunions and Port — or perhaps it’s vice versa — the little project quickly grew to a commercial product.”

There were 48 Northwest producers that participated in our first large-scale judging of fortifieds since 2015, and they combined for 67 entries. No one entered as many examples of traditional Port-style wines (five) as Abacela. No one received more “Outstanding!” ratings for their work, and none outscored the Abacela 2014 Estate Port.

“I became interested in Ports more than 40 years ago, and I’m not sure why. Maybe friends influenced me, but our kids also were interested,” said Jones, who moved from the Gulf Coast to Roseburg in 1994 with his wife, Hilda, and their family. They began planting Fault Line Vineyards a year later.

That top-rated 2014 by Abacela Port features five of the traditional grape varieties used to produce Port — Tempranillo, Tinta Amarela, Bastardo, Tinta Cão and Touriga Naçional. However, the two oldest gold-medal winners by Abacela, the 2001 Estate Port and 2008 Estate 10-year-old Tawny Port, relied on the Portuguese clone of Tempranillo called Tinta Roriz.

“I love the older vintage-style ports with vintage dates; the trouble is waiting for them to mature,” Jones said.

Interestingly, the clone that formed the foundation of those older Ports would not meet the expectations of Jones or Andrew Wenzl, who took over as Abacela’s winemaker in 2008.

Abacela Vineyard
Earl Jones and his son Greg, left, selected a vineyard site in 1992 near Winston, Ore., in the Umpqua Valley specifically to match the terroir of Spain’s finest Tempranillo growing areas. Andréa Johnson Andréa Johnson Photography

“We planted Tinta Roriz in 2000 aiming for the authentic clone used in Douro Port production,” Jones said. “It didn’t take long to see it was the worst clone of Tempranillo of the nine clones we had planted. We quickly began to use the superior Spanish clones, and after 10 years of monitoring the weather on that block we grafted the Tinta Roriz over to Grenache Alban.”

Tempranillo now accounts for 22 acres of the 76 acres planted across Fault Line Vineyards at Abacela. The other four varieties that factor into the Port program add up to 2.6 acres.

“We are planting and grafting over more of these varieties to make red varietal wines,” said Jones, who was named the 2015 Oregon Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest. “Tinta Amarela is delicious!”

There were several standout producers in this tasting of fortifieds, and many of them took a spellbinding angle to achieve excellence. No one did as well, as quirkily or as often as David Padgett in Washington’s Yakima Valley. He earned three “Outstanding!” ratings, scoring with the Horizon’s Edge Winery 2015 Estate Orange Muscat Winter Harvest Dessert Wine, the Maison de Padgett Winery 2009 Medusa Cream Sherry Gewürztraminer and the Maison de Padgett NV Smoking Gun Coffee Port Style. It was the second time in five years that the panel awarded his fortified program three or more gold medals.

Taking the more traditional route to delectable levels was Brian Carter, the longtime Woodinville, Wash., producer. His deft touch with blending was on display once again during this tasting as the recipient of Wine Press Northwest’s 2015 Washington Winery of the Year earned a pair of Outstanding! ratings for his Opulento program, which relied on blends of four traditional Portuguese varieties to delicious ends for his 2010 and 2015 beauties.

While some consumers don’t particularly embrace the nature or the sweetness of Ports and other fortified wines, the background behind their origins is fascinating, particularly for history students.

The Douro Valley of Portugal, the home of Port wine, was demarcated as an appellation in 1756, making it the world’s third-oldest official wine region after Chianti (1716) and Tokay (1737).

An agreement signed in March 2006 between the U.S. and the European Union restricts the use of the “Port” term for any U.S. wine imported to Europe. However, American wineries using “Port” on a label prior to that time can continue to do so. As for the rest, it can be entertaining to see the some of the clever proprietary names producers use for these styles of wines.

A number of the top-scoring Port-style wines were produced in the tawny style. While there are no enforced guidelines surrounding their production in the U.S., a tawny Port-style typically means it has been aged in wooden casks for at least a handful of years. However, some examples of tawny-style wines from Portugal are made using grapes that didn’t achieve higher levels of ripeness, which means those fortified products will not be as rich in color or intensity of flavor and structure.

There also were a few examples of fortified wines produced using the solera system. They are non-vintage productions and incorporate wine from barrels that are of various ages. Typically, the original “mother” barrel is several years old and often a decade or more.

And in the majority of cases, the price listed is for a 375-milliliter bottle, a format typical of dessert-style wines.

This was our second judging staged using social distancing protocols, and it was again conducted during the course of two days at the home of Jerry Hug, the magazine’s publisher, in Kennewick, Wash. The panel was made up of Kristine Bono, general manager of Tertulia Cellars of Walla Walla, Wash., and Dundee, Ore.; Gregg McConnell, managing editor, Wine Press Northwest; Philippe Michel, associate, Metis Northwest, Walla Walla; Ken Robertson, columnist, Wine Press Northwest; Paul Sinclair, Great Northwest Wine panelist, Bend, Ore.; and Gordy Venneri, co-founder of Walla Walla Vintners.

ERIC DEGERMAN is co-founder and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at GreatNorthwestWine.com.

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Abacela Winery 2014 Estate Port, Umpqua Valley • $48

If there’s tasting that focuses on varieties native to the Iberian Peninsula, bet on a wine from Abacela finishing near the top. In this case, it was an Abacela Port-style wine from the warm 2014 vintage that finished No. 1. Andrew Wenzl, in his second decade as winemaker for the Jones family, worked with five grapes found in Portugal for this superb effort. Harvest arrived Oct. 3 for this blend of Tempranillo (43%), Tinta Amarela (15%), Bastardo (17%), Tinta Cão (13%) and Touriga Naçional (12%) that comes together as a total package. It’s dense, fruit-forward, fresh and complex, featuring lots of dark purple fruit with hints of sweet herbs and nuttiness. Those layers of complexity finish with licks of cherry pie and butterscotch. And despite the hedonism, it’s still in its youth. (199 cases of 375-ml bottles, 55 cases of 750-ml bottles, 20.4% alc.)

College Cellars of Walla Walla NV Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Tawny Style Barbera Dessert Wine, Red Mountain • $40

The big brother of this tawny-style fortified effort with Barbera nearly took best of show at the 2019 Washington State Wine Competition. Tim Donahue and his Walla Walla Community College students get an extra shot at consistency since they build this with a foundation of a solera method of dessert wine that’s a blend of 2-10 years in that barrel. It’s whole-cluster fermented, and the results are what you expect — a sweet wine, tawny in its appearance with perfumy aromas of toast, dusty cherries, cocoa powder and tar. Very cherry flavors lead to black currant, caramel, toffee and dark chocolate. (30 cases, 17.5% alc.)

Maison de Padgett Winery 2009 Medusa Cream Sherry Gewürztraminer, Rattlesnake Hills • $24.95

There are few examples of sherry produced in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s no surprise that David Padgett — the sultan of sweet wines in the Yakima Valley — has crafted such a mesmerizing expression. He uses the German white variety Gewürztraminer, a naturally spicy grape, and his work leans more Port-like than sherry. Aromas and flavors of Brach’s Milk Maid Butter Rum Caramel, cherry Tootsie Pop, plum and tar all come through with a nicely balanced structure amid the 19% residual sugar. (92 cases, 19.5% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2008 Tawny Port-style, Snake River Valley • $45

The late Bill Stowe began showing the ropes to his future winemaker/son-in-law Mike McClure back in 2002, and they shepherded this barrel for a decade starting in 2008. It’s a field blend of Portuguese varieties, led by Touriga Naçional and followed by Tinta Cão and Souzao, and they rounded off the residual sugar to 10%. Classic aromas of poached cherries, boysenberry and vanilla include some nuttiness, and there’s spiciness throughout the rich and juicy profile. A bit of grip up front is shaved down beautifully with caramel and a pinch of white pepper on the finish. (20% alc.)


Melrose Vineyards NV Solstice Solera VII Baco Noir Dessert Wine, Umpqua Valley • $40

This Southern Oregon family is one of the state’s largest growers of Pinot Noir, but the French hybrid Baco Noir also has a home among the 250 acres of vines. Second-generation vintner Cody Parker doesn’t rush the process, preferring to use the solera style to craft a remarkably complex sipper. The nose of cherry pie and cassis includes pepper, baking spices and roasted coffee notes, followed by bright flavors of Bing cherry, raisin, orange peel and dried plum. Delicious acidity within the finish of blackberry syrup and Baker’s chocolate explains why the Parkers suggest serving this with Chocolate Lava Cake. (183 cases of 750-ml bottles, 19.8% alc.)

Brian Carter Cellars 2010 Opulento Dessert Wine, Yakima Valley • $45

Wine Press Northwest’s 2015 Washington Winery of the Year has a reputation for going Platinum with its Port-style program, and this decade-old blend of Touriga Naçional (55%), Souzao (21%), Tinto Cão (14%) and Tempranillo (10%) ranks among the Northwest’s best. Carter aged it in new 20% French oak barriques for 18 months, with other components in neutral oak for as much as four years. There’s a sense of inkiness to the color leading into the nose of cherry preserves, blackberry syrup and cedar. Penetrating fruitiness of strawberry-rhubarb jam, blackberry, caramel and black cherry candy pick up baking spice along the way as the interplay of tannin, acidity, alcohol and sugar (12%) is superb. Its beautiful coating of the palate prompted one judge to rate it as carrying the best mouthfeel of the tasting. Enjoy with Stilton cheese or Chocolate Ganache. (534 cases of 375-ml bottles, 94 cases of 750-ml bottles, 19% alc.)

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Horizon’s Edge Winery 2015 Estate Orange Muscat Winter Harvest Dessert Wine, Rattlesnake Hills • $24.95

Yakima Valley winemaker David Padgett is a magician with dessert wine, regardless of style, and here he uses Orange Muscat to lip-smacking success. There’s immediate enticement with the beautiful orange color and aromas of tangerine and baked Pillsbury Orange Rolls. The texture and flavors are quite elegant with more flavors that hint at orange Creamsicle, Trader Joe’s Soft & Juicy Dried Mandarins and Lemonhead Candy. While it is rich with sweetness (19% residual sugar), the balance of acidity is rather masterful. (110 cases, 19.5% alc.)

Abacela Winery 2008 Estate 10-year Tawny Port, Umpqua Valley • $60

Tinta Roriz, the authentic clone used in Douro Port production, was an early trial at Abacela, and it formed the foundation of this beautifully aged tawny Port-style that includes Bastardo (30%), Tinta Amarela (11%), Tinta Cão (9%) and Touriga Naçional (6%). Earl Jones and his winemaker, Andrew Wenzl deemed the 2008 vintage as less than stellar for their traditional Port-style program, so they created a tawny project, which they split in half — one that would spend five years in barrel and the other in barrel for a decade. When in barrel at least seven years, the Portuguese refer to these styles as colheita, pronounced col-YATE-tuh. This serves as an ideal introduction to the world of Port-style wines, starting with its relative freshness and cherry-driven approach. Vibrant red fruit tones come with raisin, coffee, chocolate and vanilla notes and underlying leatheriness. There’s finesse, appropriate levels of sugar (9%) and a deliciously nutty finish. One judge said, “It has everything that I love.” And the Joneses suggest serving it with pecan pie or chocolate. (248 cases, 19% alc.)

Brian Carter Cellars 2015 Opulento Dessert Wine, Yakima Valley • $22

Woodinville’s Brian Carter took a similar approach to the historic hot 2015 vintage of his Opulento as he did with the expression from the cooler 2010 growing season. It is Touriga Naçional (44%), Souzao (33%), Tinto Cão (15%) and Tinta Roriz (8%), influenced by 20 months in a blend of 15% new French and American oak while other lots were aged 1-4 years in neutral barrel. Aromas of blackberry, raisin, coffee, hoisin sauce and leather lead to richly layered flavors of blueberry, plum sauce and cherry. Acidity keeps the fruit alive and the sandy tannins, combined with cocoa, make for a supple finish to balance the 11% residual sugar. (700 cases of 375-ml bottles, 46 cases of 750-ml bottles ($40), 19% alc.)

Torii Mor Winery 2013 Port, Rogue Valley • $45

While this Willamette Valley producer is renowned for Pinot Noir, longtime winemaker Jacques Tardy contracted with Serenade Vineyard near the Southern Oregon town of Ashland for this Syrah. Clusters harvested Oct. 11 at between 24.3 and 25.5 Brix were fermented for six days until mutage with 150-proof brandy killed the yeast, leaving the residual sugar at 14%. That all sets the table for the nose of dusty cherry, strawberry and cookie dough. Beautifully bright red fruit and fresh prunes are met by rich chocolaty flavors. The long finish of mocha and toffee is balanced alongside the alcohol and sweetness, and there’s an impressive amount of life ahead. It’s no coincidence that Tardy suggests serving this with blue cheese from world-famous Rogue River Creamery, a short drive from Serenade Vineyard. (245 cases, 18.3% alc.)

Claar Cellars NV Estate Fouled Anchor Port, Columbia Valley • $30

This three-generation vineyard/winery in the Columbia Basin’s proposed White Bluffs American Viticultural Area takes a “Washington Bordeaux” approach to this delicious fortified effort by winemaker Israel Zenteno, who blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot with Syrah. It’s Port-like from start to finish, beginning with a brickish brown appearance and just the right amount of age with Tootsie Pop, black currant, coconut, plum skin and leather. A structure that’s rich and juicy with frontal tannins adds complexity. The long finish of plum, sarsaparilla, caramel and nuttiness will play well alongside a slab of Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake. (200 cases, 18% alc.)

David Hill Vineyards & Winery 2013 Farmhouse Merlot Port, Willamette Valley • $40

One of the Northwest’s most influential and adventurous winemakers, Chad Stock, has taken over the history-filled program at David Hill. There’s an assortment of fruit in the nose with dried prune, fig, date and blueberry, followed by deep black cherry flavors and a rewarding structure of tannin that finishes with lingering blackberry syrup on pancakes. It is seven years into this effort, yet it remains fresh. And the alcohol is dangerously difficult to detect. (100 cases, 18.9% alc.)

M.W. Whidbey’s 2017 Washington Port, Columbia Valley • $17

The first Whidbey’s Port from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates was made in 1984 at the then-young Columbia Crest facility by Doug Gore, who used Cabernet Sauvignon from historic Cold Creek Vineyard. More than three decades later, Cab still forms the base of this lush and opulent dessert wine. Now, 14 Hands winemaker Keith Kenison is in charge of the program, which spends 36 months in oak barrels. Perfumy aromas of cotton candy, plum, blackberry and marshmallow lead to a gorgeous structure that picks up cherry, chocolate and vanilla along the way to a sweet and remarkably smooth finish. (150 cases, 19% alc.)

Schmidt Family Vineyards 2015 Tempus Dessert Wine, Applegate Valley • $25

Three generations — founding father Cal Schmidt, daughter Rene Brons and grandson Duncan Brons — deservedly beam with pride for this Port-style that’s crafted with Southern Oregon’s most buzz-worthy red, Tempranillo. A classic example, it pushes notes of Dr Pepper, Raisinets, cherry candy and coffee. For lovers of Port, a lot of boxes get checked with the tension of tannin, ample acidity and pleasing heat. A pinch of nutmeg caps off this smooth, seamless and complex work that’s far from cloying at 3% residual sugar. (89 cases, 18% alc.)

Wooden Shoe Vineyards 2015 Estate Queen of Night Maréchal Foch, Willamette Valley • $52

The Iversons began to transition some of their row crops to vineyards in 2009, and Maréchal Foch is among the varieties that work well along Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory Wine Trail. Sean Morris Allen of Pudding River Wine Cellars in Salem crafts these wines, and here’s a delectable reminder that this French hybrid can make for outstanding dessert wines. The nose is “Porty” with stewed cherry, prune, Tootsie Roll and black licorice. The big Marionberry midpalate is pleasantly balanced and capped by plum sauce, mocha and anise. (33 cases, 20% alc.)

Eleven Winery 2014 Angelica Pinot Grigio, Washington • $20

Puget Sound producer Matt Albee devoted this seven-barrel lot of Pinot Gris to four years in neutral oak, and the experiment came out on the other side as a rather remarkable take on California’s historic template of white fortified wines by the early Franciscan missionaries. Aromas of caramel, toffee and Spanish flan transition to early flavors akin to a cream sherry and lemon. That tangy and citrusy profile balances the residual sugar (11%) and the midpalate of maple syrup and caramel. There’s ground nutmeg and the alcohol pokes out in the finish, but not enough to distract from the lemony theme. Enjoy it with poached pears, mild blue cheese or a slice of pumpkin pie. (175 cases, 18% alc.)

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Maison de Padgett Winery NV Smoking Gun Coffee Port-style, Rattlesnake Hills • $25

The past two times we’ve staged a tasting of Northwest fortified wines (2009 and 2015), David Padgett’s nonvintage effort using coffee came out near the top. His latest does not disappoint. He uses Chardonnay and Muscat Canelli as the base, and coffee extract takes it to another dimension. In fact, the moderator had to limit the discussion because of all the descriptors offered by judges. Out came Heath Bar, Almond Roca and a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats, along with hazelnut coffee and a box of Cracker Jack. It’s rich, complex and fascinating. Pour it over French vanilla ice cream or sneak a jigger into your Sunday morning coffee. (110 cases, 19.2% alc.)

Abacela Winery 2015 Estate Port, Umpqua Valley • $25

Four years of bottle aging by winemaker Andrew Wenzl has the current release of Abacela’s vintage Port-style program already in “Outstanding!” territory, and history indicates this is just a baby. As usual for the Southern Oregon wine industry’s iconic property, five traditional varieties come into play in the form of Tempranillo (37%), Tinta Amarela (28%), Tinta Cão (14%), Touriga Naçional (11%) and Bastardo (10%). They yield perfumy aromas of Marionberry, Simpkin’s Blackcurrant Drops, cherry soda, cedar and dried herbs. The fluid is dense yet friendly with dark cherry, plum and nutmeg. Its immense structure bodes well for cellaring — as this tasting would later reveal — finishing with cocoa powder and black currant. Enjoy with Black Forest Cake, a wedge of Stilton or toasted filberts. (300 cases of 375-ml bottles, 42 cases of 750-ml bottles, 19.5% alc.)

Augustino Estate 2015 Caramella Pinot Noir Dessert Wine, Southern Oregon • $25

There were several examples of fortified Pinot Noir as part of this tasting, and owners Reggie Boltz and Debbie Spencer in O’Brien, Ore., can boast of theirs showing the best at the moment. Estate fruit from the Illinois Valley along the Siskiyou National Forest and aging in neutral French oak makes for a pretty nose of Bing cherry, dried rose petals and cedar that exhibits very little oxidation. The structure shows nice balance, to the extent of being sneaky about its alcohol that’s swallowed up by cherry cordial, plum and dates in the delicate finish. (200 cases, 18.5% alc.)

Spiritopia NV Ginger Lemon Drop Aperitif Wine, Oregon • $24

Corvallis chemist Chris Beatty starts with Pinot Gris as the base for this dangerously easy to drink elixir. It’s super-charged with brandy to create a wine-distilled cocktail that includes organic lemon peel, organic sugar and organic ginger. It is unfiltered, so there’s a bit of cloudiness in the glass. On the nose, there’s no sense of the alcohol. Instead, it’s reminiscent of an inviting Arnold Palmer. The drink begins with lemon and lime, while the ginger picks up on the midpalate and comes across as a balancing bit of spiciness, masking the alcohol. “It’s damn interesting and very well-made,” said one judge. Consumers will see this on grocery shelves in single-serving 187-ml bottles priced at $6 each, and Spiritopia ships to more than 30 states. (120 cases, 16% alc.)

Williamson Orchards & Vineyards NV Doce Dessert Wine, Snake River Valley • $25

Syrah remains a go-to grape for some of the Northwest’s top producers of fortified wines, and the multi-personality red Rhône grape thrives in Idaho, particularly in the hands of Greg Koenig, who crafted the Williamson family’s wines for nearly two decades. The nose of toffee, Saigon cinnamon, dried cherry and plum moves into darker flavors of cola and pomegranate syrup. There’s a pleasing bit of burn from the alcohol that’s smoothed out by the finish of Choward’s Violet candy and milk chocolate. The family of foodies at Williamson enjoy this with Black Forest Cake, blue cheese or walnuts. (141 cases, 20% alc.)

Abacela Winery 2001 Estate Port, Umpqua Valley • $88

The most mature — and priciest — entry into this tasting of Northwest fortified wines also ranked among the best. Historically, this is just the second commercial vintage-style Port by Earl Jones, and these were young vines at the time — seven-year-old Tinta Roriz and fifth-leaf Bastardo. (The Tinta Roriz ultimately under-performed and was grafted over to Grenache Alban a decade later.) It’s quite fascinating in that the nose presents itself as an aged red wine rather than “porty,” hinting at strawberry candy and dusty raspberry with notes of herbs and tobacco leaf. There’s nice richness and complexity to flavors with dusty dark red fruit, just a hint of Raisinet and a gentle yet sweet finish that screams for a cigar. Suggestions range from Stilton cheese, walnuts, honey-coated pecans and toffee. (14 cases, 20.3% alc.)

LIV Lopez Island Vineyards 2019 Raspberry Wine, Puget Sound • $28

It makes sense that Brent Charnley, one of the first winemakers in Washington state to be certified organic, buys raspberries from Broers Organic Berry Farm in Snohomish County. And this framboise approach is far from cloying because the racy natural acidity of raspberries balances the residual sugar (6%). It’s reminiscent of breakfast by first hinting at blood orange marmalade and raspberry freezer jam on toast. Dig a little deeper and there’s a pinch of raspberry leaf and brings with it a lick of caramel, cocoa and vanilla bean. Enjoy with cheese cake. (130 cases, 17% alc.)


Horizons Edge Winery Treasure Chest Blackberry Cabernet Sauvignon Port-style Dessert Wine NV Rattlesnake Hills

Brian Carter Cellars Opulento Dessert Wine 2014 Yakima

Horizons Edge Winery In The Raw Sangiovese Port Style Dessert Wine 2019 Rattlesnake Hills

Indian Creek Winery Ruby Dahlia Dessert Wine 2013 Snake River Valley

Bartholomew Winery Souzao 2014 Snipes Mountain

Hamilton Cellars Dolce Vita 2011 Red Mountain

Horizons Edge Winery Crawford Vineyard Intimate Affair Batch #7 Syrah Reserve Port NV 2017 Rattlesnake Hills

Whidbey’s Reserve Washington Port 2016 Columbia Valley

DANCIN Vineyards Finale Touriga Nacional 51% and Tinta Cao 49% 2014 Rogue Valley

Page Cellars Red Wine 2017 Columbia Valley

Vashon Winery Vantage Dessert Wine 2018 Columbia Valley

Abacela Winery Estate 5-year. Tawny Port 2008 Umpqua Valley

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Estate Coruja Fortified Red Wine 2015 Okanagan Valley

Cana’s Feast Winery Chinato d’Erbetti Vino Digestivo NV American

David Hill Vineyards & Winery Estate Muscat Port 10 Year Willamette Valley

Eleven Winery Sweet Sarah Dessert Wine 2017 Washington

Maison de Padgett Winery Bite Me Peach Port Style Dessert Wine NV Rattlesnake Hills

Emerson Vineyards Bijou Viognier Dessert Wine 2017 Willamette Valley

Horizon’s Edge Winery Wishful Thinking Chocolate Port NV Rattlesnake Hills

Mt. Hood Winery Puerto Montaña Pinot Noir Dessert Wine 2012 Columbia Gorge

Delfino Vineyards & Winery FORZA Tempranillo Dessert Wine 2015 Umpqua Valley

FairWinds Winery Last Port O’ Call Dessert Wine NV Washington State

Spiritopia Strawberry Rhubarb Apéritif Wine NV NA

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards & Winery Estate Lot 2 Rojo Dolce Dessert Wine 2015 Umpqua Valley

Brandborg Vineyard & Winery Pinot Harbor Dessert Style Pinot Noir 2015 Elkton Oregon

Chateau Bianca Winery Wetzel’s Fireside Port 2009 Willamette Valley

Pheasant Run Winery Teller’s Temptation Dessert Style Wine 2008 Walla Walla

Amelia Wynn Winery Sonador Orange Muscat 2016 Yakima Valley

Cooper Ridge Vineyard Mistella Blanco 2015 Umpqua Valley

LIV Lopez island Vineyards Fireside 2018 Yakima Valley

Plaisance Ranch Winery Grande Finale 2017 Applegate Valley

Willamette Valley Vineyards Quinta Reserva Pinot Noir Port Style 2016 Oregon

Patton Valley Vineyard Oloroso Fine White Wine 2014 Willamette Valley

Thurston Wolfe Touriga Nacional Port Premium Dessert Wine 2018 Yakima Valley

DiStefano Winery Poppi Sweet Vermouth n/v Columbia Valley

Rio Vista Wines Smoky Owl Port 2015 Columbia Valley

Perennial Vintners Frambelle Dessert Wine 2018 Puget Sound


Wooden Shoe Vineyards Queen of Night 2016 Willamette Valley

Anam Cara Cellars Pinot Noir Dessert Wine 2017 Chehalem Mountains

Cooper Ridge Vineyard Docé Luxo NV Umpqua Valley AVA

Hood Crest Winery Betrayal Red Dessert Wine NV Columbia Valley

Spiritopia Batch #27 Apple Northwest Cider NV NA

Brandborg Vineyard & Winery Fino Pinot Dessert White Pinot Noir 2016 Elkton Oregon


All rated wines are tasted blind then placed in the following categories:


These wines have superior characteristics and should be highly sought after.


Top-notch wines with particularly high qualities.


Delicious, well-made wines with true varietal characteristics.

Prices are suggested retail.


Here’s a look at the numbers behind the wines tasted for this article.

Total wines judged: 68

Fortifieds by category: Traditional Portuguese varieties (16), Cabernet Sauvignon-based (7), fruit (7), Pinot Noir (7), Syrah-based (6), white vinifera (6), hybrid (4), Italian variety-based (3), Merlot-based (3), Sherry (2), Vermouth (2), Malbec-based (1), Toffee (1)

Percentage of “Outstanding” wines: 34

Percentage of “Excellent” wines: 54

Percentage of “Recommended” wines: 9

Average price: $33 (per 375-ml bottle)

Average price of “Outstanding!” wines: $35

Average alcohol: 18.8%

Average alcohol of “Outstanding! wines: 19%

Total cases represented: 3,328

Average case production: 256

Average case production of “Outstanding!” wines: 381

American Viticultural Areas represented: 20

Wines by AVA: Umpqua Valley (10), Columbia Valley (8), Rattlesnake Hills (8), Willamette Valley (7), Yakima Valley (6), Oregon (4), Snake River Valley (3), Washington State (3), Applegate Valley (2), Elkton Oregon (2), Puget Sound (2), Red Mountain (2), Rogue Valley (2), American (1), Chehalem Mountains (1), Columbia Gorge (1), Okanagan Valley (1), Snipes Mountain (1), Southern Oregon (1), Walla Walla Valley (1),

This story was originally published September 23, 2020 12:05 AM.

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