Imagine if you can, a bicycle race through the Italian countryside. The cyclists stream past beautiful villas and vineyards with cypress-lined entryways. The air is filled with the smells of nature and the sounds of birds and animals. It is so easy to go there in your mind’s eye.
Now, imagine driving just a few minutes southwest of Portland for the very same view. It’s not what you might expect to find in Sherwood, Oregon, but you will. Alloro Vineyard‘s 33 acres are perched upon the sloping hillsides of the Chehalem Mountains AVA. As you approach the property, you are greeted by towering cypress trees lining a driveway that leads to an absolutely stunning Italian farmhouse surrounded by culinary gardens, beautiful outdoor seating areas and grazing sheep and cattle. It is an unexpected treasure that begs for a long afternoon of wine tasting and picnics.
We visited Alloro in the spring with the media consultant, Carl Giavanti and our friend, Brianne Cohen of SOMMspirations. During our visit to Alloro this spring, we spent time with the winemaker, Tom Fitzpatrick. Tom is a quiet, introspective wine artist who, as an aside, reminds me so much of my brother Sandy that it was hard to pay attention to what he was telling us through the uncanny similarities of personality, style and demeanor.
Tom was quick to give us a tour of the vineyard where he seems to feel most at home. The vineyard is dry farmed, meaning that there is no use of sprinklers or other water systems, and tended with “the lightest possible touch.” At Alloro, they let the grapes and the land do the work. The vineyard’s L.I.V.E.-certified, Salmon-Safe agricultural practices strive to promote natural biodiversity and improve sustainability. In fact, solar panels generate all the electricity needed for operations and even credit power back to the grid.
Alloro’s tasting room feels more like the center of a warm, inviting villa than a typical tasting room. The counter faces what feels like a farmhouse kitchen, there are leather chairs comfortably situated in the cozy space, a fireplace and, of course, a vineyard dog who is happy to greet you when you arrive and keep you company throughout your stay. There is additional seating, both covered and uncovered, just outside the tasting room, where a summer picnic would be absolutely perfect!
Each year, in a unique homage to the land, Alloro hosts an autumn Farm Dinner that relies almost exclusively on the estate’s harvest. This sumptious meal is prepared by a local chef with the menu fully dependent on the harvest each year. Is there a better way to honor the earth and its bounty?
Alloro’s wines are produced in the Burgundian wine making tradition and use only estate grown grapes. They range in price from $25 for the Rose of Pinot Noir to $95 for the very small production, absolutely exquisite Justina Pinot Noir. Their white wines include Chardonnay at $34 and Riesling at $30. The estate Pinot ($40) is the winery’s flagship wine. Alloro produces about 1600 cases of this well-balanced red. They also produce the Riservata Pinot Noir ($50), and an aromatic dessert wine consisting of 1/3 Riesling and 2/3 Muscat called Vino Nettare (nectar wine) at $40.
A visit to Alloro is a visit to Italy without the airfare and the jet lag. We highly encourage you to take the short trip from Portland or from where ever you are to experience this beautiful setting, exceptional wines and warm and welcoming hosts.