Favorite Wineries – iOTA Cellars visit
Thanks to our friends and old next door neighbors, Perry and Lynne Pelos, for sparking my interest in wine. They always wanted to own a vineyard and possibly a winery. While this is a dream for many people, the team of Pelos & Sandberg made it reality with the Pelos-Sandberg vineyard and iOTA Cellars! These two families have worked together to create a wonderful vineyard and winery in the Eola-Amity Hills section of the Willamette Valley.
The two families are partners in the operation of the vineyard and winery. Perry’s sister, Johanna, and her husband Don are the stewards of the property. The Pelos-Sandberg Vineyard is a great example of an American winegrower family. In this one place, they grow the grapes and make the wine. The winery (below) is a new addition in 2010 and is just steps from the vineyard.
We had the opportunity to visit in the fall of 2011 just before harvest and in 2012 just after budbreak. For a photographer, these are the best times of the whole year to visit. Really, though, there isn’t a bad time for a visit with friends.
In April 2012 the vineyard and surrounding area was exploding with bloom. While still cool, there was lots going on, what a great time to visit before the summer crowds! Bud break is a beautiful time to see the new life of the 2012 vintage begin.
We toured the vineyard with the Sandbergs and really enjoyed seeing blooming plants everywhere. The Pelos-Sandberg vineyard is dry farmed (no irrigation) and managed to LIVE-certified sustainable standards. It is a beautiful spot with the vineyard and buffers of native habitat.
Our prior visit was just days before harvest began in October of 2011. The grapes were almost ready for harvest. What a treat to walk the vineyard full of nearly ripe grapes!
As you can see, the grapes look ready!
As the day to day stewards of the land, this is very much the Sandberg’s home.
If you ever have the opportunity to do a barrel tasting with the winemaker, do it. If you’re at a bigger winery and it adds cost to the tour, do it. Barrel tasting is a hoot! You will get an understanding of how the grape clone affects flavor, how the barrel age affects flavor, even how the individual barrel can affect flavor. In our April visit, we took a tour of the barrels of 2010 iOTA cellars wines were maturing. Don climbed around all the different barrels with his “wine thief”, providing us with samples. We could smell and taste differences in different vineyard sections. We talked about the choice of Pinot Noir clone and how it affects when the grapes ripen and flavor characteristics. Don is animated out in the vineyard, but you can see he is very animated when it comes to the individual barrels of wine!
Thanks to iOTA Cellars, we have been introduced to artisan produced wines from Oregon, and that followed to an interest of wines from around the world. The wine is a beautiful garnet color, almost transparent.
We enjoy iOTA Cellars Pinot Noir with a whole variety of foods, typically in the vein of poultry, ocean fish, and earthy flavors. You might also enjoy it by itself!
iOTA Cellars is a small winery, producing less than 1000 cases a year. However, they have been noted in Wine Spectator for the last two years, and specifically called out by Jon Bonne’ of the San Francisco Chronicle in December of 2011. Wine Spectator is nice (and probably a bigger deal), but I find Jon Bonne’s recommendations to be a much better indicator of whether or not I’ll enjoy a wine. Consequently, when Jon recommended iOTA cellars specifically, I was so impressed. If you get a chance to try their wines, you will be, too.
iOTA Cellars is only distributed to select markets directly. I would highly recommend visiting their website and ordering directly from the winery. Truly handmade, this single vineyard estate produced Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley is a really good value at $36 a bottle.
Click on any photo below to go to a slideshow of iOTA Cellars images