Three Diverse AVA’s | A Taste of the PNW

At Cork & Barrel 2017, a benefit for KIDS Center, we are excited to feature top wineries from Walla Walla, the Columbia Gorge, and Willamette Valley, as “A Taste of the PNW”. In years past, Cork & Barrel has harnessed the wine prowess from California (Napa and Santa Barbara County) as well as from the Willamette Valley and Walla Walla. We are heading back to our Northwest roots this year and are excited to present three different American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) at this year’s fundraising events: the Willamette Valley, the Columbia Gorge, and Walla Walla.

We have 17 wineries secured for Cork & Barrel and look forward to noshing on small bites, savoring exquisite winemaker dinners, and feasting at the Grand Cru dinner – all paired with wines from throughout the Pacific Northwest.

|Participating AVAs |

The Willamette Valley

The Willamette Valley, encompassing a large swath of acreage from Portland and all the way to Eugene, naturally bound by the mighty Columbia River on the north and the Calapooya Mountains to the south, is Oregon’s largest, recognizable winegrape growing region. Synonymous with “quality”, the Willamette Valley contains almost 20,000 acres of vineyards and a little over 70% of the state’s total vineyard production. Considered a “cool climate” viticultural climate, Pinot Noir is king in the Willamette Valley and Oregon benefits from an international reputation as a top-notch producer of Pinot Noir. Pinot Gris, the same grape variety that makes up Italian Pinot Grigio, also has a stately reign in the Willamette Valley – almost 2500 acres of Pinot Gris are planted in the Willamette Valley and many wineries produce Pinot Noir wines as well as a Pinot Gris. Chardonnay is the third most produced grape variety in the Willamette Valley and Riesling comes in fourth. We will see all of these types of wines represented at Cork & Barrel 2017.

Willamette Valley Winery Highlight:

Three Diverse AVA’s | A Taste of the PNW

L’Angolo Estate, a family wine business, highlights their winery as “planted in light, nestled in beauty.” And this statement couldn’t be closer to the truth…

Located in the Dundee Hills, a sub-AVA of the larger Willamette Valley AVA and approximately 45 minutes southwest of Portland, visiting L’Angolo Estate is a discovery of the richness of life. Winemaker and general manager, Chase Renton, originally learned how to make wine in Italy and followed his training, there, with harvests in Burgundy, California, and the Willamette Valley.

Chase will be on hand at the 2017 Cork & Barrel, presenting L’Angolo’s estate-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines made from grapes from the sixteen acres the owners have planted on the north side of the Dundee Hills. Between now and July, 2017, we encourage you to visit the L’Angolo Estate tasting room where modern design meets classic Northwest architecture at the top of their hill.

The Columbia Gorge

Columbia Gorge wine country straddles both sides of the Columbia River and in both Washington state and Oregon. Affectionately referred to as “A World of Wine in 40 Miles” due to its unique topography and climate changes, the Columbia Gorge is a wildly diverse wine region that contains a combination of climates, soils, elevation, and geology. Over 30 wineries are found in the Columbia Gorge area and just as many grape varietals are grown there. Many producers have a signature Pinot Noir and also have the opportunity to play with other varietals that aren’t grown in large amounts in the Willamette Valley like Barbera, Cinsualt, Dolcetto, and Semillion. Hood River on the Oregon side and Lyle on the Washington side are two towns visitors can identify with when touring the Columbia Gorge wine region.

Columbia Gorge Winery Highlight:

Three Diverse AVA’s | A Taste of the PNW

Memaloose and Idiot’s Grace, are the production of a small, family-owned estate winery in the Columbia Gorge.  Their several plots—established since 2003, overlooking the River on both the Oregon and Washington sides—are farmed organically with imagination and humility; the wines, wild-fermented and unposturing, seek originality from this dramatic growing region. Memaloose reds, whites and roses take their inspiration from the Rhone, while the array of Idiot’s Grace offerings reflect restless work to match grape to place.

Tasting Room on The River – 34 State St (HWY 14), Lyle, WA, 98635. Contact info: 541-399-5565 – –

Walla Walla

Not only is Walla Walla considered, in native tongue, the “land of many waters”, it is the “town so nice, they named it twice.”

All play on words aside, Walla Walla is a bucolic agricultural town nestled against the foothills of the Blue Mountains. A historic town that was once in consideration to be Washington state’s capitol, Walla Walla is bustling with three colleges and a thriving wine scene. Well over 100 wineries call Walla Walla home and with sweeping wheat fields and almost 3000 acres under vineyard production, the Walla Walla region is a coveted wine region in the Pacific Northwest.

Walla Walla Winery Highlight:

Three Diverse AVA’s | A Taste of the PNW

Loosely translated from Italian as “go slowly”, Va Piano Vineyards abides by this philosophy in wine making and wine drinking. Owner/winemaker, Justin Wylie, fell in love with the Italian way of life during a study abroad experience in Florence. His small lot wine productions typically display intense flavors, fine tannin structure and intense aromas: quintessential Washington state characteristics. The majority of the grapes Va Piano uses in their whites, and reds, are estate grown.

We are very pleased to welcome Va Piano Vineyards to the 2017 Cork & Barrel wine lineup and look forward to getting to know Justin Wylie, and his wines, better!

Visit one of their three tasting rooms for a fantastic experience: Walla Walla (1793 J.B. George Road, Walla Walla, WA  99362); Spokane (in the Davenport Hotel, 10 S. Post Street, Spokane, WA  99201); Bend (425 SW Powerhouse Drive, Ste. 301, Bend, OR  97702).