Wine Review Online 91
The 2020 vintage yielded a smaller than normal crop, and it was also a vintage that was threatened by smoke from wildfires. A melange of the winerys 6 estate vineyards, this Estate Pinot apparently escaped all damage and in fact exudes nothing but charm and elegance. The wine is immediately appealing with its lovely aromas of cherry, raspberry and cloves. On the palate it is smooth, delicate and velvety, and the flavors emphasize youthful cherry fruit and lead to an intriguing earthy, oaky background. The finish is savory and juicy. Norm Roby
Vintage 2020 was a difficult vintage with nicely concentrated wines. The COVID-19 outbreak brought labor and safety challenges that we overcame in step with increased seasonal demands in the vineyard and cellar. Luckily our vines are 6 feet apart and well suited for social-distancing, but creative solutions saved the day we even recruited our sales team for our harvest crew.
Cool, wet conditions in spring led to a 25% lighter than average fruit set with small clusters and berries, ideal conditions for flavor intensity. Summer brought steady heat and cool nights, increasing our expectations for a fantastic vintage across the board here in the Willamette Valley. Then, in August and September, Oregon experienced one of its worst wildfire seasons in history, bringing with it worries of smoke-affected fruit. Ripening slowed until the winds shifted eastward and the skies cleared in mid-September.
The silver lining for Elk Cove is that our vines are located in the northwest corner of the Willamette Valley, where smoke effects were minimal. We will not release any wines that exhibit smoke taint and have aggressively tested for it. We sent a great many samples to the laboratory in 2020. Were confident that we made some fantastic wines from intensely concentrated fruit.
VINEYARD: Our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is made with 100% estate grown fruit from all six of our vineyard sites: The Winery Estate, Mount Richmond, Five Mountain, Clay Court, Goodrich and Windhill. These sites are comprised of both Pommard and Dijon plant material, with multiple clones represented.
Because we draw from vineyards representing all three of the major Willamette Valley soil types, we are able to pick and choose for different flavor components to make the best possible blend each year for our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Some people call this making wine spice rack style, we usually just call it delicious. Our goal is the perfect version of what we believe a Willamette Valley Pinot should be: a wine with freshness of fruit, well-integrated alcohol, and great concentration of flavor.
WINEMAKING: To make our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, fruit from each vineyard block is fermented separately in small, temperature controlled steel tanks, hand punched down twice daily, and barreled in French oak barrels. After 10 months of aging in French oak, the wine we choose for our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is carefully blended to produce the most approachable, well-balanced Pinot Noir we make.
TASTING NOTES: With generous cherry fruit, dry leaves and five spice on the nose, this wine is bright and earthy,
its flavors of raspberry and black currant layered with dusty, almost gritty tannins and notes of rhubarb and black
VITICULTURE & ENOLOGY:
Vine Age: 7-44 years
Harvest Sugars: 22.5 brix
Vatting: Fermentation in small open top steel fermentors. 10 months in French oak.
Alc: 13.5% v/v
Bottled August 2021
Elk Cove VineyardsView all from Elk Cove Vineyards
Elk Cove Vineyards was founded in 1974 by Pat and Joe Campbell. Winemaker Adam Campbell joined forces with his parents in 1995 and Elk Cove remains proudly family owned.
Pat & Joe Campbell Planting their First Grapevine. It's 1974. The Campbell family winds up a gravel road to an abandoned and overgrown homestead in the foothills of the Coast Range Mountains. Six year old Eartha asks "Where's the house?" "It's behind us!" Joe and Pat happily reply – referring to the trailer that would be their home for the next year. They are Oregon winegrowing pioneers.
Pat and Joe chose the property for its shallow soils, steep hilly terrain and beautiful views. After converting the existing homesteader's barn into a winery, they built a new home from reclaimed lumber. They invited friends to help on the weekends, enticing them with manual labor and wine futures. Joe worked nights in the ER, Pat managed the business, and they both worked long hours in the vineyards and made the wines together. There were fewer than ten wineries in Oregon at the time.
Why Elk Cove?
In the winter of 1974, a herd of 40 Roosevelt elk bedded down in the clearing by the Campbell family's trailer. Their presence, along with the protective bowl shape of the property, inspired Pat and Joe to name their property Elk Cove Vineyards.
Pat's great-grandfather was a Swiss immigrant to Helvetia, Oregon, who grew grapes and made wine prior to prohibition. Her parents were orchardists in Parkdale, a small farming community at the foot of Mount Hood. Her father Lew, upon seeing his daughter's new land, overgrown with abandoned prune and hazelnut trees, commented "With this soil and no water, I don't think you can grow anything here – except maybe wine grapes."
Pat met Joe Campbell when they were both teenagers picking strawberries for spending money. He was a small town kid from Hood River, Oregon, whose smarts landed him at Harvard, then Stanford Medical School. Joe used his academic background to teach himself the science of winemaking, collaborating with other fledgeling winegrowers to learn from their achievements and struggles.
Success in a New Industry
Pat and Joe didn't know it at the time, but they were pioneers of a new industry in Oregon. In 1979, the Campbell's 1978 Riesling won gold at the Oregon State Fair, the Tri-Cities Wine Festival, and the Seattle Enological Society annual tasting. Pat and Joe had proof – they really could make world class wines. In 1985 when Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate famously "discovered Oregon" the Campbells and other Oregon winemakers felt their region was finally on the map. Thirty five years later, there are over 500 wineries in Oregon. The wine business now ranks as one of Oregon's top agricultural industries.
Although Pat and Joe are retired now, you might see Pat working in the flower gardens on your visit to the winery. Joe might pour you a glass of his Condor wine. Their vision lives on through their son Adam.
Adam Grows Up
The five Campbell kids all grew up working summers in the vineyards at Elk Cove – it was truly a family business and Joe and Pat needed all the help they could get. Adam took a special interest and stayed close to home for college, attending Lewis & Clark and spending summers on the bottling line. Upon graduation he joined the business year-round to learn the craft of winemaking from his parents. Adam is now responsible for making Elk Cove's wines. He oversees six vineyard sites with 350 planted acres. That's over 10 times the total acreage of all Oregon vineyards when Pat and Joe planted that very first vine.
The Campbell's goal has always been hand-crafted, Estate-grown cool climate wines that rival the best in the world. As a second-generation winemaker and a 5th generation Oregon farmer, Adam Campbell is proud to continue that tradition.