Posted by Clive on Monday, May 17, 2010
Not too long ago, I did a post about Sokol Blosser's Evolution and how well it paired with the signature sandwich from my hometown of Pittsburgh. The piece got picked up by the website of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I had a good chat with Lee, the marketing guy at Sokol Blosser who suggested that I "Come on down and let us show you a good time." Who am I to refuse such hospitality?
Anybody who knows anything about Oregon wine knows the name Sokol Blosser, pioneers in the Willamette Valley wine industry. If there's something going on, chances are Sokol Blosser is out in front leading the charge, whether by making adventurous wine blends that pair well with any variety of food, like the Meditrina and Evolution; progressive politics; or re-examining how wine can be made and the impacts it can have on the environment.
We arrived at Sokol Blosser and the tasting room was already bumping. We asked for Jenny, who poured us some wine as she packed a bag for us to begin our Sokol Blosser tour. We warmed up with some Pinot Gris, and then moved onto the Pinot Noir 09 Rose. Only 700 cases were made, and if last year is any indicator, the April release will be gone by June. Get some; it's excellent. Despite the quick sales, Jenny feels that there's a lot of consumer education yet to be done for Rose. I am in total agreement and I'm grateful to see the Northwest continue to bring out some excellent examples of Rose that will hopefully get us past the whole White Zinfandel nonsense those Californians cooked up.
Jenny next poured us the Evolution, and complimented me on my article, which I greatly appreciated. The Evolution represents two-thirds of Sokol Blosser's total production. Inspired by the 1974 Oregon State Plantings on the estate, the Evolution is a combination of nine varietals, many of which began as part of that cold climate planting experiment. The nine varietals and the Beatles' Revolution #9 resulted in the name and the blend. While the blend varies slightly from year to year, it never ceases to please.
We stepped outside in to the classic rainy weather of April in the Northwest and took a tour of the Sokol Blosser facility. The vineyards are planted on an old orchard and farm with each block being named for what came before; for example: Goose Pen Block, Peach Tree Block, etc. As we tasted through the Pinots, we talked about the 85-acre vineyard. We tasted the 2007 Pinot Noir, which was excellent. I have to shake my head every time I'm drinking Oregon Pinot from 2007. I am a big fan yet I'm aware of how they were panned by critics. I think the critics got it wrong, and Jenny again echoed what I'd heard all over on my trip to Willamette: the 07s are just now "coming out to play."
We toured the barrelhouse, which is the first LEED certified wine structure in the nation. For Sokol Blosser it represents sustainability which is another area to lend it's focus, passion and ingenuity. The vineyards are policed by cats and bluebirds as opposed to pesticides, 30% of all the winery's power is solar-generated and 30% is produced by wind turbines, a full 50% of their farm equipment uses biodiesel. Last, but not least, Sokol Blosser is targeting carbon neutrality in time for the 2030 Carbon Neutral challenge, though they hope to get there sooner.
Sokol Blosser has been certified organic by both the USDA and Oregon Tilth since 2005. They also participate in Salmon Safe certification. What differentiates Sokol Blosser from many other wineries in the areas of sustainability is their genuine and honest approach. They talk about their shortcomings as well as their green efforts. And they speak honestly about the practice of "green washing," a practice which has become all too common among larger companies. Sokol Blosser releases an annual Sustainability Report, wherein they talk about their successes, where they fell short of expectations, and their plans for the future.
Sustainability is a lifestyle at Sokol Blosser, from their office practices to the packaging they select. As they look toward the future there's little doubt that their dedication to this effort, like the dedication to their wine, will certainly bear fruit. If history is any guide, Sokol Blosser's efforts will benefit the Willamette Valley community and Northwest wine lovers alike.