“Cooper Ridge wines are produced with all estate grown grapes. Our twelve acres are planted with seven varietals including Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Riesling, Viognier & Gruner Veltliner. Our tasting room is located in the heart of the Umpqua with a breathtaking panoramic view over Garden Valley.”
It was one of those perfect fall days in Oregon, cool and misty, but pleasant enough to enjoy both the warmth of a tasting room and the chill of a barrel room and production facility. We visited Cooper Ridge Vineyard on just this kind of day. We often show up unannounced, sometimes intentionally to get the feel of a tasting room and sometimes because we simply stumble upon an interesting stop along the way. This visit was neither, we selected this winery for a visit without much planning. When we arrived we found the winemaker/grower, Charlie, working at the sorting machine. Cooper Ridge is a unique winery in that it has dedicated itself to providing the most efficient, often previously unfamiliar, equipment in the industry to make wine making a highly efficient and effective process. Charlie was pleased to show of his newest and greatest toys!
An example of this new technology is PulsAir Systems. The stainless steel tanks in the heated barrel room each have four jets to gently force air into the tank to keep the contents moving. That saves the time and effort of punching down throughout the processing of the grapes. The heated room speeds up the malolactic fermentation time. They have also installed an automated sorting system that speeds up that process without damaging the grapes. Quite an operation! (An interesting low tech surprise is the use of Acacia barrels for some of the wines. These barrels provide a bit more floral profile without the tannins. The winemaker is also aging some Riesling Mistella in whiskey barrels, that should be a real treat when it’s ready!)
The site and set up of this vineyard is really lovely. The driveway leading to the property is stunning. It is an uphill drive that overlooks the vineyards. In fall, the colors are dramatic on both the trees and the vines, making this one of the most inviting spots we have visited in a long time. When you arrive at the parking lot, you find yourself facing the tasting room, a small guest house and the production area in U shape around the parking lot. Behind these three building is the beautiful 12 acre estate with views in every direction. The Guest House is primarily for club members, there’s a good enough reason to join!
In the tasting room we found the owner behind the counter. She was charming and knowledgeable. It was a pleasure to hear her enthusiasm about the wine, the wine making process and the family’s willingness to invest in the amazing equipment and a talented wine maker to produce the best possible wines from the estate.
We tasted through the winery’s extensive selection of wines. They are trying many different varietals and all were quite good. We particularly liked the Tempranillo and the Gruner Veltliner, but all were well balanced with great characteristics.
This is a place that we would return to, for its setting, style and wine. That’s the trifecta of a tasting room, don’t you think?