Oregon’s 2014 Slow Pinot Noir is selling fast

By on December 1, 2015
The 2014 Slow Pinot Noir is made in Oregon.

The 2014 Slow Pinot Noir is a project that benefits the Slow Food movement in Oregon. It is a wine made from 11 Willamette Valley wineries. (Photo courtesy of Kayt Mathers)

PORTLAND – A delicious Pinot Noir from Oregon’s bumper 2014 is helping raise money and awareness for local farmers.

The 2014 Slow Pinot Noir is a collaboration between nearly a dozen top Willamette Valley winemakers and also is helping raise money and support for the Oregon Slow Food movement.

“I was looking at the 2014 vintage,” said Don Oman, who has been in the Oregon wine business for more than 30 years. “It was a big vintage, a ripe vintage with so much extra fruit. I thought maybe it was time to do a benefit project.”

Oman is owner of Casa Bruno, a wine importer and distributor in Portland and co-founder of Slow Food Portland. He also founded Pastaworks in Portland in 1983.

Because the 2014 vintage was so large, Oman decided to contact some of the Oregon wineries he works with to see if any might want to contribute a barrel of Pinot Noir for the Slow Pinot. He started with eight producers and ended up with 11, enough to produce 270 cases of wine.

John Grochau, owner and winemaker for Grochau Cellars in Amity, Ore., volunteered to lead the blending effort.

“I’m always willing to do something new and exciting,” Grochau told Great Northwest Wine. “I think a warm vintage makes it a little easier to blend than if it was a cool vintage. The wines mesh together easier.”

The Slow Pinot Noir was released in November for $30 per bottle, with proceeds benefiting local Slow Food chapters. In the first two weeks, about 1,000 bottles were sold. Oman expects the wine to be gone within three months.

“As quality Oregon Pinots go, it’s a great value,” Oman said.

He was able to reduce overhead costs by getting deals on bottles, corks, capsules and labels.

Contributors to 2014 Slow Pinot Noir

slow-pinot-noir-smThe 11 wineries that each contributed a barrel of Pinot Noir to the project were:

Oman said all 11 barrels worked well together.

“We had a good choice of barrels,” he said. “That’s a function of the 2014 vintage. It was an early, ripe harvest but also mature. The only setbacks were trying to find wines with balance.”

His goal was to put together a wine that came in under 14 percent alcohol, and the Slow Pinot Noir weighed in at 13.8 percent.

Getting the producers to work with Oman was fairly easy, he said. Oman added that it was important that the wines not be donated. One of the goals of the Slow Food movement is supporting local agriculture.

“We came up with a price that would benefit all,” Oman said. “Most of it was estate fruit, all vineyards of note. People worked within their own interpretation of sustainable agriculture.”

Grochau, who just completed his 14th harvest in Oregon, loved working on the project.

“It was a pleasure to work with all of these wineries,” he said. “It was a good challenge. I needed to respect the wine and get it right. There was a lot riding on this both personally and professionally.”

He makes about 8,000 cases for his eponymous winery, which he launched in 2002. Before that, he worked at Higgins restaurant in Portland for several years and also worked for Erath and Brick House before launching Grochau.

About the Slow Food movement

Portland Slow Food

Fresh carrots for sale at a Portland farmers market. The Slow Food movement supports local sustainable agriculture. (Photo via Flickr/click image for credit)

Slow Food began in the 1980s in Italy and is meant to be the opposite of fast food. It now has more than 100,000 members in 150 countries worldwide. In the United States, there are 200 chapters of Slow Food with about 12,000 members.

Slow Food Portland was founded in 1989, making it among the oldest in the United States.

Oman joined Slow Food after attending VinItaly, a large international wine exposition. For Oman, it was a simple decision because the organization’s goals were in line with his: delicious and sustainable food produced by local farmers.

While the 2014 Slow Pinot Noir appears to be a success, Oman is not sure whether he will do the project again. It has taken a lot of time for a guy who was trying to be retired and also is running a distributorship. And ultimately, it competes with Pinot Noir producers.

“At this point, I have no plans to do it again,” he said.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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