Abacela is America’s leading producer of tempranillo, which is the most noble wine grape of northern Spain (where Rioja and Ribera Del Duero wines are made), which has a climate is very similar to that found in the Umpqua Valley near Roseburg. Abacela makes in some years, such as 2000 and 2009, a special bottling of ‘Southeast Block’ tempranillo ($55) and, in most years, a Reserve Tempranillo ($45). Both have the scent of brewing tea leaves, the softness of low acidity, and mouthwatering tannins, but five-plus years in a cool cellar are needed before the complexity of these wines emerges. They also make an excellent, reasonably priced white wine, also from a Spanish varietal, called albariño ($18), which smells of peaches and citrus. Earl and Hilda Jones, owners; Andrew Wenzl, winemaker.
Although the winery and tasting room are in a newly refurbished building, Adelsheim is one of Oregon’s oldest wineries. Try their Elizabeth Reserve pinot noir ($52), made from old-vine fruit, with seamless intense black raspberry flavors. Jack and Lynn Loacker, owners; Dave Paige, winemaker.
From the underground caves of this winery come many of the very the best wines made in Oregon, including a single-vineyard pinot noir ($85) grown in the Red Hills Estate vineyard, with mouthwatering tannins and amazing palate persistence that will make you want more than you should have if you are driving! If you can convince the tasting room to open a bottle, there is also a very rare white wine made here that is not commercially available, from pinot gris grapes grown on the very special hillside of the Red Hills Estate vineyard ($45). It is full-bodied and unctuous and far richer than other pinot gris wines (except a Grand Cru from Alsace), even ones typically made in Oregon (although the Hawks View pinot gris is a close second to this one!!) Leucadia National, owner; Anna Matzinger, winemaker.
Argyle’s sparkling wine made from a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay is the best buy in bubbly made in America. There are a couple of different versions of it, and the best is their ‘Extended Tirage’ bubbly, ($55), every bottle of which rests on its lees (dead yeast cells), gaining complexity for about a decade before it is released for sale. It has a deep, rich, yeasty scent reminiscent of real Champagne. Petaluma Australia, winery; Rollin Soles, winemaker.
Makers of delicate pinot noir sourced from vineyards surrounding the hamlets of Carlton and Dundee, Belle Pente makes a wide variety of wines, and among the best is the raspberry/cherry-flavored Yamhill-Carlton District pinot noir ($25), one of the best values in high-quality red wine made in Oregon. Jill and Brian O’Donnell, owners and winemakers.
Although their Bergström Vineyard pinot noir ($75) is richly textured and opulent, it is their chardonnay wines that truly stand out. Try the ‘Sigrid’ chardonnay ($78) for a whiff of elegant, expensive French oak barrels, and then try the ‘Old Stones’ chardonnay ($30) which is almost as good, at a fraction of the price. Josh Bergström, owner and winemaker.
One of the trailblazers making great Eola Hills pinot noir for many years, Bethel Heights makes richly textured, cherry-flavored pinot, with the best bottlings coming from their Justice vineyard and Southeast Block vineyard ($50 each). Ted and Terry Casteel, Pat Dudley, and Marilyn Webb, owners; Ben Casteel, winemaker.
In the hamlet of Elkton, perched above the rushing waters of the Umpqua River, is Brandborg, where they make excellent white wines, particularly from gewürztraminer and Riesling (each $16); the gewürztraminer oozes clove-like spiciness with the scent of honeysuckle, and the Riesling is refreshingly tart with Granny Smith apple flavors. Terry and Sue Brandborg, owners; Terry Brandborg, winemaker.