Chehalem Pinot Gris, Chehalem Mountains 2019

Pale gold color; pear, lemongrass, guava, white peach on the nose; green apple, lemon, pear, nectarine, minerality on the palate.

Chehalem Pinot Gris, Chehalem Mountains 2019

Dry; fermented in stainless steel and aged seven months in tank. Impressive, racy acidity (3.09 pH). Light body and excellent mouthfeel. Oregon is best known for pinot noir, but pinot gris is its signature white. This effort demonstrates the depth, complexity, and deliciousness possible with this mutation of pinot noir. At harvest, the grapes have a gray hue—gris is French for “grey.” In Italy, the wine is called pinto grigio—grigio is Italian for “grey.”

Grapes for this effort were sourced from six different vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. The AVA is located in the Yamhill and Washington counties of northwestern Oregon. It is part of the Willamette Valley wine growing area.

The versatile pinot gris grape can be made in a variety of wine styles, from dry—as this effort is made—to sweet. Chehalem’s head winemaker Katie Santora choses to let her fruit and the Chehalem terroir speak, and invited the vintage to show its stuff. Cool weather arrived in Oregon in early September, but late in the month and in October conditions returned to sunny days and briskly cool nights. That resulted in wines lower in alcohol with delicate, nuanced flavors and superb acidity. That makes this a food pairing winner; 12.5% ABV.

The vineyard/winery started in 1980 when the Peterson-Nedrys family purchased the property and planted pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. The Howieson family planted the first grapes in the Corral Creek area in 1983. In 1990, Chehalem harvested the first grapes at Ridgecrest. In 1993, Bill Stoller purchased his family’s estate in Dayton and joined Chelalem.

Bill and LaRue Stoller

Bill Stoller then embarked on a noteworthy career in the region, gaining complete control of Chelalem in 2018 by purchasing Henry Peterson-Nedry’s interest in Chehalem. This followed a 24-year partnership with Peterson-Nedry. Stoller comments on the website: “Harry Peterson-Nedry has been a mentor to me,” said Stoller. “When Harry first asked me to be an investor, I saw an opportunity to help fund a friend’s dream and the chance to be a part of something with the potential to be iconic. As we enter this next chapter, I am honored to shepherd CHEHALEM’s legacy.”

“No one understands more how special the CHEHALEM brand is, how much passion and rigorous work it has taken, how much collaboration with other Willamette Valley pioneering wineries has gone on, than Bill,” said Peterson-Nedry. “I take comfort knowing he will respect its heritage in a way that no one else could.”

The vineyards and winery were LIVE certified in 2008. LIVE certification acknowledges socially responsible winegrowing and winemaking in the Pacific Northwest. Chehelem earned B Corp Certification in 2018—B Corp determines companies ensure they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance.

Chehalem Pinot Gris, Chehalem Mountains 2019 is delightful, light, dry take on pinot gris. Plenty of Oregon character. Smooth with impressive acidity. Reduced alcohol for food friendliness. Depth and character; well made, as you expect from Chehalem and Stoller Wine Group. Works an aperitif and cocktail hour wine; famously pairs with fish—sea bass, tilapia, scallops, perch, trout, redfish, mussels, clams, oysters; chicken, chicken alfredo pasta, parmesan crusted roasted chicken; olives, roasted nuts; cheese—brie, mozzarella, gruyere, parmigiano reggiano. $20

Chehalem website

Nice videos tell Chehalem story (scroll to the bottom of the page); also extensive photos

Chehalem solar panels and vineyard
Chehalem Corral Creek vineyard (Andrea Johnson)
Chehalem Ridgecrest vineyard
Chehalem tasting room
Chehalem winemaker Katie Santora