On our most recent trip down south we decided to divert away from highway 99, and visit one of the wineries that we are usually in too big of a hurry to enjoy. We follow the signs to Emerson Vineyards. They have a mailing address of Monmouth, but are located quite a bit further south. As you turn off the main road you travel a beautifully rolling one lane drive which flows past a scenic pond complete with a rustic dock. The most notable feature of the landscape are the oak trees which dot the estate and surround the winery.
The tasting room is a working winery. There is nothing fancy about the converted machine shop where the wine is now made. The plane metal building even has a working overhead crane. I like that. We are greeted by the owner of the estate, Tom Johns. Tom is an Oregon boy who made a living in the pharmacological field, but now has returned to his roots to grow grapes. I really like to visit a winery where you get to talk to the owner. I love to ask how they ended up getting into the wine business. For Tom the answer is simple, it's his son, Elliot, who had a dream of being a winemaker. "His dream, my money!" Tom explains.
The winery is named after Tom's grandfather, Emerson Waldo Fisher. As we settle down to a generous selection of wines Tom gives us a non-stop narration complete with almost constant comic touches. They have a lovely '09 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that has the earthy, smoky notes that I really love and which at $18 a bottle is a great value. But the star of the show for me is their Brother Red. Here is a red blend that expressed the slightly warmer climate of the central part of the valley. It is a big, bold, fruit-filled red blend of estate fruit that sells for only $16 a bottle. Don't be surprised if you see it featured at Wednesday Wines sometime in the not too distant future.
The winery features outdoor concerts on Friday nights on the patio outside the tasting room. It's low key, and you bring your own picnic supper, grab one of their great value wines and enjoy the scenery. It's a feature we'll have to take in on one of our many visits to Eugene.