Kathy and Terry Sullivan
Summary: Visitors to De Ponte Cellars will discover a warm and friendly tasting room. The owners strive to produce a Burgundian style Pinot Noir. The winery produces a DFB Estate Melon wine varietal. Notice the patchwork quilt affect by the arrangement of the vineyards.
Scott and Rae Ellen Baldwin purchased the property in 1999. The name DePonte comes from the family’s matriarch, Shirley Baldwin. DePonte is Shirley’s maiden name. It honors her father who grew grapes and made wine in the San Joaquin Valley in California. DePonte Cellars released their first Pinot Noir in 2001. Isabelle Dutartre, winemaker, learned the craft of winemaking in her home of Burgundy in France. She has a commitment to let the grape express itself.
The original vineyards were planted in 1975 in this Dundee Hills AVA location where red clay soils abound. The land consists of 17 acres of vineyards with 14 acres of Pinot Noir and 3 acres of Melon de Bourgogne. During an early March visit the vineyards were dormant however still providing views of the structure of the vines and layout of the vineyards. Near the entrance to the winery and vineyards, older vines have moss growing on the vines. Currently the winery produces between 3,000 and 3,500 cases of wine.
Tasting Room at De Ponte Cellars
The tasting room is warm, friendly and tastefully decorated. A small gas stove is at one end of the room. The large tasting counter is of lightwood and a large picture window behind the counter allows in plenty of light. A balcony overlooks the aging room where wine barrels are stacked aging wine. Adjacent to the tasting room, a patio, with several wrought iron tables, offers views of the vineyards. An old world-styled spittoon is centrally located near the tasting counter. Its red ceramic top contrasts with the oak barrel bottom.
While producing mostly Pinot Noir wines, De Ponte Cellars has a few acres of the Melon varietal. According to the owners there are few commercial vineyards of Melon in the United States. The Melon 2009 was a light straw color. Apple and pear notes with an explosion of citrus makes this a must try wine. Note: The 2009 vintage was sold out and the futures of the 2010 vintage were available at the time of our visit. The 2010 vintage is now available. Only seven hundred cases of the Melon varietal are produced each year.
Pinot Noir Wines
Clay Hill Pinot Noir 2009 was ruby with a hint of sienna. This wine was fruity with red berry notes. The finish was crisp and fruity. Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2007 was ruby with hints of cocoa and red fruit. The wine had a touch of tannins. Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2008 was ruby with notes of cherry, red berry fruit and spices. There were tannins on the finish. Estate Pinot Noir 2008 was ruby and very fruit forward with notes of red berry fruit. The wine finished with tannins and fruit notes.
De Ponte Cellars offers several wine clubs. These include the Old Vine Club, Terroir Club, Trellis Club and Big Boy Club. Both the Trellis Club and Big Boy Club are limited to 75 members.
Enjoy a visit to De Ponte Cellars in Willamette Valley. Be sure to consider tasting the Melon wine if it is available.
De Ponte Cellars
17545 Archery Summit Road
Dayton, OR 97114
GPS: N45º 15.610’ W123º 03.444’