Oregon Pinot Camp: Adventures from a wine enthusiast (part 1)
Posted by Nikki Erpelding, wines and spirits manager at Byerly’s St. Louis Park
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
I’d love to tell you about the experience I had in Oregon at the annual Oregon Pinot Camp (OPC)!
Oregon Pinot Camp is a three-day experience for those involved in the wine trade. Fifty wineries get together every year to host this adventure. Participants encounter the elegance and the art of pinot noir, then travel deeper into the soils, vines, vistas, valley and vintages. We met with owners and creators of these deliciously varied wines. It’s all about growing our expertise for our customers!
So how do you get invited? It’s no easy task. You must show interest and then campaign heavily in order to get your golden ticket. Around 300 people are chosen from around the world out of a pool of 750 people. This year 30 states and 7 countries were represented. The 50 wineries hosting the camp are each able to nominate 15 people, then the OPC board decides who will attend. I was so excited to receive my nomination and then a month later found out I was accepted!
I was also fortunate enough to attend the pre-OPC party at Foris Vineyards in Southern Oregon.
I found out the owner of Foris Winery and Vineyards, Ted Gerber, bought the original property in the early 1980s. His late wife, Mary, made wreaths out of grape vines and sold them to help fund their first wines. Before that, Ted sold his grapes in the early days when there were only 18 wineries in the state.
Today, his family-owned winery is in the Rouge Valley, which is made up of three valleys: the Illinois, Applegate and Bear Creek. Like any good vineyard, you have to be in the right location for your grapes; grape growers find out what works with their special terroir though trial and error. Foris Vineyards has many different soil types, but the best is where they grow their Maple Ranch Pinot Noir, one of the standouts at OPC. Foris also specializes in Alsatian whites and sells quite a bit of fruit to some well-known Northern Willamette producers.
Stay tuned for more adventures of OPC…