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Iris Vineyards
by
Kathy Sullivan

Iris VineyardsSummary: Iris Vineyards, in the Willamette Valley AVA, is located outside of Eugene, Oregon. From the tasting room a vineyard flows down a hill.The site provides a delightful ambiance on the approach to the tasting room and in the tasting room. The tasting room offers a comfortable experience with views of the adjacent patio and vineyards.

Iris Vineyards tasting room is located at the top of a hill and overlooks acres of grapevines named the Chalie vineyard. To reach the vineyard tasting room, travelers must traverse a mile long country road that winds between tall evergreen trees and woodland.

Iris VineyardsWe were curious about the name Iris. Was it the iris flower or the iris of the eye? Richard Boyles and Pamela Frye, owners of Iris Vineyards purchased the property in 1995. The land was logged and wild Douglas irises were growing on the hill. They named the winery for the flower. A change was made in 2007 when the winery was rebranded. Now the logo is the iris of the eye.

Tasting Room

Iris VineyardsThe Iris tasting room is cozy with dark yellow walls, a wood burning stove and tables made of thick wood from the property. Each table seats six with very comfortable chairs. Outside of the tasting room is a patio which offers space for additional seating and for special events.

Iris VineyardsIn the tasting room we met Aaron Lieberman, Winemaker. Aaron was born in Berkeley, California. Between 1968 and 1971 his parents frequently visited Napa to taste and enjoy wine before eventually moving to Corvallis where his father attended Oregon State University. Aaron also attended Oregon State University and earned a Crop and Soil Science degree. After traveling to Eastern Europe and working in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, Aaron returned to Oregon in 1996 where he became an assistant vineyard manager. His first commercial winemaking vintage was in 2001. In 2008 he became the head winemaker at Iris Vineyards. Aaron likes both the vineyard work and winemaking.

Aaron would like people to know that Iris Vineyards is a hidden gem in the Willamette Valley. The vineyards and winery (off site) have been around for nearly a quarter of a century.

The Vineyards

The first vineyards were planted in 1996. The vineyards are located between 800 and 1100 feet of elevation. The property consists of 870 acres with 43 acres of vineyards. The owners plan to add additional plantings Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They also plan to add small amounts of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Munier. Iris Vineyards also sources grapes.

Iris Wines

Iris VineyardsWine tastings are by flights. The flights to choose from include white, red, Choice Estate and the Chardonnay Flight. According to the flight menu, “Iris is built on the ancient Greek philosophy of Areté. This value exemplifies the idea of realizing one’s fullest potential and the continuous endeavor toward excellence. The principle of Areté is applied in all of our processes, from vine to wine.” Some of the Iris wines are named Areté. Our tasting was set at a table. This was a relaxing setting to enjoy the wines and discussion.

In the tasting room there is a selection of small bites to purchase and enjoy with your wine tasting. Food items include: a cheese board, smoked salmon, duck paté, proscuitto or salami,
specialty cheese, Marcona almonds, olives, fruit and bread/crackers.

Iris VineyardsThe Areté 2018 Willamette Valley AVA was produced with estate grown Pinot Gris. The Pinot Gris was harvested early and barrel fermented. The wine had 12.2% alcohol with 3.7 g/L of residual sugar. The wine was a light yellow color. The aroma was citrus and the taste included notes of lemon, grapefruit and mineral. The finish was crisp and fruity.

The Areté 2017 Brut Blanc de Blancs was produced with Chardonnay. This wine, with 12.6% alcohol, had multiple columns of tiny bubbles forming a circumferential mousse on the surface. The wine was a yellow color with apple and freshly baked bread notes.

The Chardonnay Willamette Valley AVA 2016 had 13.6% alcohol. The wine had a residual sugar of 0.4 g/L. The color was yellow with a gold hue. The wine offered an aroma and taste of apple, pear and caramel. The mouthfeel was velvety. The crisp finish was fruity with caramel.

Areté 2016 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley AVA had 14.1% alcohol. The wine was a translucent ruby color with a dark pink hue. The aroma was of raspberries with a hint of baking spices. The taste included notes of raspberries, cinnamon and cloves. The wine was medium/full bodied with medium-bold tannins. The crisp finish was fruity with integrated spices.

Pinot Noir 2017 D Block Willamette Valley AVA was a translucent red color. The aroma was of raspberries and spices. The taste included raspberries and cinnamon. The mouthfeel was velvety and offered a full body with bold tannins. The finish was fruity and lightly spicy.

The 2017 GSM Rogue Valley AVA was a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. The wine was a translucent ruby color. The aroma was reminiscent of a black fruit salad. The taste included notes of blackberries, plums, black cherries and mild baking spices. The full-bodied wine had bold tannins and a velvety mouthfeel. The finish had fruit and spice integrated together.

The Iris Vineyards wine club is named Trellis Club. Club members can choose shipments of red, white or mixed wines.

Enjoy a country drive through the woodland, followed by views of a sloping vineyard. At the top of the hill, a yellow building is the location of the tasting room and the large patio.

Iris Vineyards
82110 Territorial Highway
Eugene, Oregon 97405

GPS N43º 52.9814’ W123º 15.4388’

 

 

Article written November 2019



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