Winetraveler is pleased to introduce Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon’s renowned Willamette Valley. Adelsheim was founded by David and Ginny Adelsheim with an optimistic spirit and lofty dream: to create world-class wines in an undiscovered region. At their core is a desire to honor and be good stewards of the land, which is reflected in their certified sustainable vineyards and wines.
Located in the northern Willamette Valley and nestled in the Chehalem Mountains, Adelsheim Vineyard and its surrounding area are both rural and idyllic. Vineyards flow adjacent to lush farmland and are often hidden by old growth fir forests. The geography of the Chehalem Mountains is diverse offering varied slopes and elevations and both volcanic and sedimentary soils.
Winetraveler recently had the opportunity to talk with the CEO and President of Adelsheim Vineyard, Joth Ricci. Joth is passionate about creating world-class wine from the Chehalem Mountains and Willamette Valley and sharing it with the world; and Winetraveler is pleased to share Adelsheim with you….
Winetraveler (WT): When was Adelsheim established?
Joth Ricci (JR): Adelsheim was established in 1972, when the wine region was barely budding in Oregon.
WT: What led you to the wine industry and winemaking?
JR: I had spent nearly two decades in the beverage industry and led some of the country’s most recognized beverage brands including Jones Soda and Stumptown Coffee. I decided to enter the wine industry in 2017, when I was presented with an opportunity to bring a 46-year-old winery with a rich history and fantastic wine, forward. I took over for founder David Adelsheim and never looked back.
WT: What makes your region good for viticulture? Different than other regions?
JR: The climate in the Willamette Valley is truly unlike any other place in the world, largely because of the moderate weather during the growing season. The cold and cool temperatures help bring about a good level of acidity, and keep our grapes ripening too quickly.
WT: Why did you select this region?
JR: We recognized the Chehalem Mountains had significant potential, which is why the Adelsheim’s first established here in 1972. Decades later, Northern Willamette Valley is abounding with world-class wineries and vineyards. Today, we own more than 200 acres of land and our estate sites vary in size, elevations and soils.
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WT: What grapes do you grow?
JR: Our vineyard currently grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Syrah, all of which grow very well in this climate.
WT: Do you outsource grapes?
JR: We are primarily estate-grown, farming from our 200 acres of vineyards; however, we do outsource a percentage of the grapes from local partners.
WT: What is your winemaking philosophy?
JR: Our winemaking philosophy has remained consistent throughout our history. We’re passionate about creating wines we love to drink. Wines that age well, are elegant, and complex, as well as wines that showcase the terroir of the region. We focus on techniques that best highlight these distinctive characteristics. In addition, we prioritize annual winery and vineyard trials to continuously educate and enhance ourselves and our processes.
WT: What is your favorite experience at the winery to-date?
JR: I personally love to host guests at the winery. We have such a beautiful location and a rich story to tell. It’s fun to share our passion for the region and the wines with others.
WT: What has been one of your challenges?
JR: Our biggest challenge is that so many people have yet to be introduced to Oregon wines. Getting the message out there about our region and the great wines from across the state is fun, but a challenge at the same time.
WT: Which wine has received the most industry accolades and what is your personal favorite?
JR: The New York Times published a beautiful story on Oregon Chardonnay. It listed our 2015 Willamette Valley as one of their top picks and noted the Chardonnay was tense, well-balanced and savory. Priced at $22 a bottle it was also the publication’s best value.
WT: What are good wines for the autumn season?
JR: Chardonnay pairs well with many classic fall dishes prepared at home, such as pot roast, chili and roast chicken.
WT: Do you distribute your wines?
JR: Yes, we work closely with distributors across the country in order to share our Oregon wines with as many as possible. Customers can find our wines at our online shop or by contacting their local distributor.
WT: What would you say to wine travelers not familiar with your region as a destination?
JR: The Willamette Valley is home to some of the best, world-class wines. Our local wine industry also has a very collegial atmosphere. Instead of competing against each other, we like to learn from each other and work together to present travelers and visitors with the highest quality wines and experiences throughout the region. Not to mention, the typical drive to Adelsheim is idyllic and can be filled with wildlife viewings from alpacas to horses and expansive vistas.
WT: What advice would you give those traveling to the region for wine tasting?
JR: Take your time and explore the Willamette Valley by visiting more than one AVA. Oregon Wine Country contains six: Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills, McMinnville, Eola-Amity Hills, Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge. Each offers unique locations, elevation and soils, which is reflected in the wine.
WT: Do you host events at the winery?
JR: This summer we launched our new education program to bring informative experiences to Portland and the Willamette Valley in easy-to-digest, one-hour sessions. As we were engaging with our guests at Adelsheim, we discovered there was a genuine interest in wine education and experiences, beyond just visiting the tasting room. Our Saturday Seminars are designed to be experiential and interactive, as well as suitable for guests of varying ages and knowledge levels.
The Saturday Seminar series spans a variety of topics, from basic-level “Wine 101” to more in-depth topics including “It’s Not Your Fault,” which will help attendees identify the faults and flaws in wine. They also include “Pinot noir: A Global Perspective,” which takes a close look at Pinot Noir beyond Oregon and all over the world.
WT: Describe a tasting experience at Adelsheim. What can a visitor expect?
JR: Tasting flights range between $15 and $25, and the tasting fee is waived with a minimum purchase or club membership. Guests can also pre-arrange for small bites or a wine and cheese pairing by reserving an experience online. Regardless, all visitors can expect someone very knowledgeable walking them through the wine, from its production to profile. Visitors can also expect a seasonal rotation of food that pairs well with the wines and our signature top notch hospitality. We do ask that groups of eight or more make a reservation in advance, to maintain a high-level of personal attention for all our guests and groups. Every vintage and vineyard is a story to be discovered, and we look forward to sharing our stories, experiences, and wines with everyone.
WT: Tell us more about your wine club.
JR: We love our wine club! Our wine club members are our most loyal supporters and our favorite regular visitors. Members enjoy 4-6 shipments of wine per year, plus free tastings for up to 4 guests (valued at $15-$25 each), up to 25% off retail wine orders, exclusive educational opportunities, and more. You can learn more details on our wine club member page.
WT: Are you also a Winetraveler? If so, what’s your favorite destination outside of home?
JR: I am a Winetraveler. My favorite experience was a visit to Australia for its diversity of destinations and great, welcoming people. Dinner with the winemaker from Penfolds while sharing bottles of Grange goes down as one of my favorite moments in the wine industry.
Adelsheim Vineyard is a 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Winery. Visitors are welcome to the winery 360 days a year for a distinctive Oregon wine experience.