Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir, Van Duzer Corridor 2021

Medium ruby color; cherry, raspberry, strawberry, plum, black tea, pepper, oak, earth on the nose and palate.

Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir, Van Duzer Corridor 2021

Dry; mild, fine-grained tannins and reserved acidity. Light-medium body. Fruit-forward, but not ostentatiously so. Good representation of Willamette Valley/Van Duzer pinot. This is Van Duzer’s entry-level pinot noir, so it lacks some of the complexity and nuance of their higher tier efforts, but it still is a smooth, polished, pleasing pour. Van Duzer does not make bad wine—or if they do, they do not release that batch to the public. Count on them for consistent quality at sane price points. 13.5% ABV

Established in 1987, the Van Duzer winery is the oldest winery in the Van Duzer AVA. It was run-down when Carl and Marilynn Thoma acquired the property in 1998, intrigued by the potential of the winery perched atop a knoll surrounded by vines on three sides. The couple first acquired their taste for wine while working on MBA degrees at Stanford University. They hired Jim Kakacek to replant and upgrade the property, resulting in quality production three years later. A new winery was finished in time for the 2006 harvest.

Carl and Marilynn Thoma

According to the Van Duzer website: “Carl came to know agriculture on his family’s cattle ranch in his youth, and became intrigued by the fledgling California wine industry during his graduate school days. He began building a portfolio of premier California vineyards during the 1990s and gradually settled on the Willamette Valley as the site for a family estate winery. He honed his eye for potential as a venture capitalist in Chicago where he has managed a succession of private equity funds. He holds a degree in agriculture economics from Oklahoma State University and an MBA from Stanford. Marilynn oversees Van Duzer’s marketing effort, drawing on her brand management experience at Quaker Oats and Cellular Network. She also holds a B.S. from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Stanford.”

Eric Misiewicz is the winemaker today. He holds a degree in viticulture and enology from Cornell University, followed by experience in New York, Spain, Australia, and Napa Valley. He moved to Oregon because of the possibilities he saw in the Willamette Valley, especially in the Van Duzer Corridor.

Van Duzer vineyard-winery

Van Duzer places an emphasis on biodiversity and tailored application of water, soil amendments, and fertilizer. They earned certification from LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), Salmon Safe, and the International Organization for Biological and Integrated Control (IOBC). The winery works with the National Fish and Wildlife Association to preserve the natural oak savanna on the east side of the property, pruning it naturally with a herd of sheep.

Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir, Van Duzer Corridor 2021 is very nice entry-level effort from quality Willamette Valley maker. While it lacks some of the complexity and sophistication of its pricier siblings, it is by no means a country rube. Red fruits, smooth tannins and acidity, balanced with no flaws, you can pour this without a blush of hesitation at any meal or event. Oregon continues to impress as a world-class terroir for pinot noir, and this entry-level effort reinforces that judgment. Pair with salmon; turkey; roasted pork chops; mushroom risotto; pork tenderloin; veal; venison; oven-baked chicken. Cheese—brie, camembert, gruyère, comté, roquefort. $36

Van Duzer website

Van Duzer winery entrance
Van Duzer tasting area
Van Duzer tasting area
Van Duzer map