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.
Willamette Valley AVA was established in 1983, and it is the oldest appellation in Oregon. Oregon’s modern wine industry began in the Willamette Valley in the 1960s when artists, vagabond winemakers, and U.C. Davis oenology graduates looking for new territory started their own, small, off-the-grid wineries. The appellation is the state’s largest, and it extends 175 miles from Columbia River on the Washington/Oregon border to just south of Eugene, near central Oregon. The Willamette River runs through the area, helping to give the appellation a mild year-round climate. There are six smaller sub-appellations within this AVA, but altogether the Willamette Valley has the largest concentration of wineries in Oregon, as well as the majority of the state’s most famous producers. Pinot Noir is king here, followed by Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling. To most admirers of Oregon Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley offers the most distinctive wine choices in the state.
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.