From Orchard Hills we put the address to Cherry Hill Winery into the iPad and laughed when we saw the pin in the middle of a rather large blue area, which we surmised to be a lake or large pond; technology is wonderful! Making our way in that general direction we were elated to see old-technology signs along the road letting us know where to turn. The scenery was lovely, so we took it a bit slower to enjoy and keep the dust from flying behind us as we made our way up the gravel road. Meandering into the property, following the 14 mile an hour speed limit signs (apparently the older John Deere Gators top speed is 14 mpg, we found out in the tasting room) we were appreciating the ‘Poverty Road’ street signs, and warming up to the sense of humor dotting the landscape. The blue spot on our map must have been the large pond at the lowest elevation within the vineyards. Approximately 90 acres of Pinot Noir grapes, planted right up to the pond, supply the fruit for this winery. Coming around the north side of the hill, the vineyards are primarily south and southwest facing, there is a large building, followed by several smaller, modern-rustic cabins before the winery is before you. Yet another sign, ‘If you drink no Noir, you Pinot Noir’.
Inside, more signs, ‘NFM’ (Sideways reference anyone), ‘Cabernet-Free Zone’, ‘Piano Player Wanted, good or bad, must play for wine’ beneath an upright piano, the mural on the back wall. I am sure there are many more subtle funnies in places we didn’t look. The bar was pretty crowded with room enough for the two of us where we entered.
First up, Blanc de Noir, we found another white Pinot Noir! A dry rose’, Vanda after the orchid, followed by the Estate Pinot Noir. Here we were, in a pristine valley with acres upon acres of Pinot Noir Vines setting this year’s fruit in the middle of the Willamette Valley AVA – drum roll please: lavender nose, slightly eucalyptus on the palate with more tannins than every other Pinot Noir we had to this point. It is a single clone wine, Pommard, Pinot Noir’s (just over half of the Estate planting). Lastly, there is the Dijon Cuvee (clones 113, 115 & 777), the biggest, boldest wine of the four. Now I am confused, maybe I have missed something, but these two Pinot’s make the others we have tried look somewhat similar where these stand apart. Is that good or not, it is due to something I didn’t catch during our tasting – the wine maker was pouring these wines and I asked lots of questions! Back to the beginning; more cautious tasting. Apparently we weren’t ready for this winery, it will have to be revisited after we have more Pinot Noir experience. (Always ready to consider the next adventure.)
Back passed the cabins that we now know are for members to come get away from it all, the large hall for banquets and fun events, driving 14 mph down Poverty Rd. We realized it was well passed noon; could we be hungry?