Sustainable Oregon Pinot Noir at a Price for the People

Soter Vineyards 2013 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley, Oregon
13% Alcohol
$15-20
Highly Recommended

A recent work trip brought me to the great town of Salt Lake City. The city is known for the beautiful surrounding mountains, great skiing, and being the headquarters of one of the fasted growing religions in the world, Mormonism. Largely as a result of the Mormons' long presence in Utah, the state is about five decades behind the enlightened parts of the country in regards to  alcohol. I experienced a particularly egregious hilarity at Salt Lake City's largest wine store. I was in search of some Govino glasses to take with me camping and the cashier informed me that they do not sell wine glasses of any type because they are worried that customers will spontaneously open wine bottles and start drinking them in the store. I laughed, all but certain he was joking, until his steely glare quickly convinced me that he was dead serious. This felt ridiculous on so many levels; I became uncomfortable and quickly booked it out of the store with this bottle in hand. 

The upside of my strange Utah wine-buying experience was that I found this tasty bottle from Soter Vineyards for an inexplicable $15. I had a feeling it would be a solid companion to a brief overnight trip to the desert in southern Utah. This bottle is targeted at a broader audience - "Pinot Noir for the People" you may say - and at $15, it earns that title wholeheartedly. Not only is it entirely affordable, the sustainability credentials are off the hook. All of the grapes were sourced from certified sustainable vineyards: organic, biodynamic, and/or LIVE. Having helped Soter Vineyards install two separate solar energy systems during my time working at Tanner Creek Energy in Oregon, I'm very familiar with their dedication to the environment in each stage of the winemaking process. The winery is certified sustainable as well:

Planet Oregon wines are bottled in a certified sustainable winery; one of just 14 wineries in Oregon, and very few in the world, that can also claim to have rigorously documented, reduced, mitigated, and offset all [greenhouse gas emissions] accounted for in their onsite production methods. This is all done in accordance with international standards and the data is posted to The Climate Registry as part of our ongoing commitment.

In addition to all of that, $1 from the sale of each bottle is donated to the Oregon Environmental Council. I'm slightly biased here, as OEC was the first place I worked after college, and their innovative work with wineries and sustainability is one of the main reasons I started this blog and continue to write about the topic today. 

Enough with the sustainability blabber, on to the wine!

Young, fresh, silky, and pretty; this immediately stood out to me as a humble bottle of classic Oregon pinot noir. This wine has a wonderful nose with dusty cherry, blackberry, and a hint of spice. On the palate, light bodied with with cherry and dark berry notes, mild but refreshing acidity, and a slightly bitter finish. While this isn't at the level of Soter's more premium offerings in the $30-75 range, it holds its own nicely for Oregon pinot noir at this price point. I've tasted more than 10 bottles of pinot noir from Oregon's 2013 vintage at this price range and this my favorite so far. 

This bottle proved important for my survival during my brief foray into the Utah desert. By the time I arrived at a hotel after camping in Capitol Reef National Park, I had little in way of food: some bagel scraps, warm cheddar cheese, a few squares of mediocre chocolate, a dusty jar of peanut butter, and this bottle of wine. I expected the lackluster hotel restaurant to provide my sustenance until I was told that a paint thinner spill had closed the it temporarily. So it wasn't surprising that this wine ended up being my trustiest companion that evening. I popped it open and sat on the patio of my hotel room taking in the view of the mesas to the north, liquid calories and all.