2015 Benton-Lane First Class Pinot Noir



Steve and Carol Girard, both grew up in the San Francisco Bay area with parents who loved wine. High school sweethearts from the start, they moved up to Napa to pursue their lives together in wine once Steve finished his service in the military. In fact, you may recognize their last name – because they founded the eponymous Napa Valley Winery that later became famous and continues to this day.

Attending wine tastings, Carol discovered something different than what Napa could offer – cool climate varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Before long, both Steve and Carol were seduced by these varietals, and a second chapter of their wine lives began.

After searching the globe for five years, they settled in Willamette Valley. But not just any place in Willlamette Valley: a 100-year-old ranch named Sunnymount. Here, Mother Nature had done something spectacular – not only was it on the prime slope of the western side of Willamette Valley, but farther west, in the Costal Mountain range, sits a mountain. Clearly visible and shining brightly in the morning sun, this mountain not only gives Sunnymount Ranch its name, but it also acts as a rain break to the ranch. Simply put, those ever-present rain clouds of the Pacific Northwest get pushed north or south, around the ranch, when they collide with the mountain. Navy pilots call this effect a “keyhole in the clouds.” And that sunny keyhole is why this wine must be tasted to be believed:

This deep ruby colored wine exhibits aromas of rich dark fruits like black cherry, raspberry, root beer and cola with complex underlying scents of currant, cassis, vanilla and cinnamon spice. This wine is full of layered fruit flavors of dark cherry, raspberry, cranberry, and blueberry with hints of vanilla and Crème brûlée. On the palate ripe tannins and balanced acidity create a rich velvety mouth feel.

Why the name? Sunnymount Ranch straddles the county lines of Benton and Lane – and Girard was already taken. And if you’re a pilot (or just flying in an airplane), wouldn’t you like the upgrade to first class? The winery gave us a heck of a deal. Don’t miss it.

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