Winter’s Hill Watershed Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon 2021

Pale ruby color; cherry, strawberry, raspberry, red plum, watermelon, cranberry, earth, oak, spice on the nose and palate.

Winter’s Hill Watershed Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon 2021

Dry; soft, supple tannins; healthy, balancing acidity. Light-medium body. The 100% pinot noir grapes come from an estate vineyard owned by the Gladhart family since 1961 and planted in 1990. The 2021 vintage was challenging with high temperatures and low rainfall. Grapes hand-harvested and a portion underwent whole-cluster fermentation to add spice notes and tannin from the stems. The grapes cold soaked for three days, followed by fermentation with gentle pump-overs. Wine finished in French oak for 10 months. With time in glass, opens up to reveal more delicious fruit flavors. 137% ABV

The Gladhart family owns Winter’s Hill Estate. John and Lena Winter established the property in 1961 as an orchard and farm. When their daughter, Emily, and her husband, Peter Gladhart, planted the first vineyards in 1990, they named the vineyard Winter’s Hill in to honor the Winters.

Winter’s Hill principals (website landing page)

John Winter was born “Hans Viehweg” in Hannover, Germany. When Hans and Lena settled in Chicago when they immigrated to the United States in 1929. Upon gaining citizenship, Hans changed his name to John Winter. John and Lena built a business and raised a family in Chicago, but loved the mountains and open spaces of the West. When their children were grown, they moved to Oregon to start a new life in the Willamette Valley.

Emily met Peter Gladhart while both served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador. Emily and Peter spent their first 20 years together in academia, then decided to build a winery in the Dundee Hills on the property of Emily’s parents. Taking a leave of absence from Michigan State University, they moved to Oregon.

Winter’s Hill vineyard

They first planted 21 acres of vineyard, then six years later added an additional 14 acres. By that time their son, Russell, was part of the operation. Russell was taken with wine working in the family vineyard as a teenager. He went on to work at vineyards and wineries in Oregon and New Zealand. He met his wife, Delphine, working together in an Oregon winery. Russell then studied enology and viticulture at the Centre de Formation Professionelle et de Promotion Agricole de Beaune in the heart of Burgundy in France, Delphine’s home country. They married in 2004, moved back to Oregon, and formed a partnership with the Gladharts. Delphine made wine until 2014; Russell is the winemaker today.

Winter’s Hill Watershed Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon 2021 is classic Willamette Valley pinot noir at a more than reasonable price point. Get some if you can find it. Red fruits are precise, tannins tame, acidity spot-on. Silky mouthfeel, especially after some exposure to air. Pair with poultry—turkey; seafood—salmon, tuna, mackerel, grilled swordfish; light fish—trout; oysters, mussels, lobster, crab—especially with cocktail sauce or mignonette; pork tenderloin; lighter red meats; vegetarian fare Cheese—sheep’s milk and semi-soft cheeses; gruyère, comté, emmenthal, gouda, abbaye de belloc, zamarano, manchego, roucoulons, aged cheddar. $26-29

Winter’s Hill Estate website

Winter’s Hill winemaker Russell Gladhart
Winter’s Hill founders Emily and Peter Gladhart