Several months ago, the Campbell family in Oregon’s Willamette Valley launched their newest project: Pike Road Wines. The Campbells are owners of Elk Cove Vineyards in Gaston, one of Oregon’s premier wine estates, and Pike Road was established as a sister property to Elk Cove.
When Pat and Joe Campbell arrived in the Willamette Valley in 1974, there were less than ten wineries in the entire state. Joe, a physician, moonlighted at night in the local ER while the couple struggled to plant vineyards. In time Elk Cove attracted awards and acclaim, and their son Adam joined them full-time as winemaker. Today there are more than 500 wineries in Oregon. Much has changed, but the Campbells have not: they remain as gracious and humble as they always were.
Grapes for the Pike Road wines are drawn from family-owned vineyards adjacent to Elk Cove, with a small amount of fruit purchased to round out the production. Unlike the mammoth line extensions constantly unveiled by multinational beverage conglomerates, the production at Pike Road is less than 20,000 cases—miniscule by today’s standards. As at their sister winery, the goal is 100% estate-grown fruit and hands-on winemaking.
The nose of the 2015 Pike Road Pinot Gris ($15) offers enticing whiffs of citrus, peach, honeysuckle and spring flowers. In the mouth, the wine is crisp yet full, with rich flavors of stone fruits, lemon, lime and ripe melon. Mouth-watering acidity carries all these elements onto the finish.
The 2014 Pike Road Pinot Noir ($19) has a brilliant ruby color and aromas of freshly crushed red berries that jump from the glass. The wine is light to medium-bodied on entry, with good acidity and prickly fruit tannins. In the mid palate, the smooth texture contains flavors of strawberries, red raspberries and rhubarb, framed by earth notes and minerals. The wine is fresh and poised despite spending nearly one year in barrel, with the oak barely noticeable.
Both wines are perfect hot weather quaffs. Either would pair well with salmon, and the Pinot Noir would be a charm with grilled poultry and red meats. They both represent significant values in estate-grown wines from the Willamette Valley.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); his first novel, Friend of the Devil, is now available from Black Opal Books. For more information, go to amazon.com