Torii Mor in the Dundee Hills was established in 1993 with its first release of 1,000 cases of Pinot Noir. The fruit came from Olson Estate, a mature vineyard purchased by Donald Olson, a long-time admirer of Burgundian wines. Olson named his winery in homage to the terroir of his vineyards. In Japanese “torii” refers to the ornate gates that often lead to exquisite gardens, and “mor” means “earth.” Though the Olson Estate Vineyard is still the source of much of Torii Mor’s fruit, the winery now produces more than 10,000 cases a year and also sources fruit from throughout the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue Valleys. The eight-acre Olson Estate Vineyard is planted to several clones of Pinot Noir, as well as Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Jacques Tardy, a native of Burgundy, has been winemaker since 2004. Trained at the prestigious Lycee Viticole de Beaune, Tardy worked in California before moving to Oregon. Though best known for Pinot Noir, Torii Mor also produces Pinot Gris, Riesling, Viognier, Pinot Blanc and Rosé.
Oregon is the fourth largest producer of wine in the U.S., after California, which produces nearly 90% of all wine made in the U.S., Washington State and New York State. Though winemaking in Oregon started in the 1850s, thanks in part to several German immigrants who planted German wine grapes, as in other American wine regions the Oregon industry folded in the beginning of the 20th century during Prohibition. Starting in the early 1960s modern winemaking pioneers planted vineyards in south central Oregon and the more northern Willamette Valley. Pinot Noir did well in the cool microclimates of Oregon, and by the late 1960s the state was already earning a reputation for its artisanal Pinot Noirs. By the 1970s innovative Oregon viticulturalists were traveling to Burgundy for Pinot Noir clones, and to Alsace for Pinot Blanc clones. Today the state has about 20,000 acres planted to wine grapes and more than 400 wineries. Pinot Noir remains the state’s most celebrated wine, followed by Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris. The Willamette Valley just south of Portland is Oregon’s most acclaimed wine producing region.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.