left coast cellars- There’s more to this property than just wine

Although the wine is freaking amazing…

Are you a west coast junkie like we are? If so, meet Left Coast Cellars.

Located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Left Coast Cellars focuses exclusively on craft wines — 134 acres of estate-grown Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Viognier, and Syrah.

left coast cellars

Left Coast Cellars And Willamette Valley’s Soil

A Quick Primer on the Willamette Valley may be in order here if you’re not familiar with it.

The history of wine in the Willamette Valley dates back to the 1800s. The first wineries in the region were established by German and Swiss immigrants who were looking for a new place to grow their grapes.

The Willamette Valley is located in the northwestern corner of Oregon, and its cool climate and volcanic soils make it ideal for growing pinot noir. The region has become one of the most important wine-producing regions in the United States.

Left Coast Cellars is certified LIVE sustainable (essentially, this means they use fewer and less toxic pesticides and fertilizers).  This is Oregon, after all. I’d be surprised if they weren’t some flavor of sustainable-organic-biodynamic.  

Oregon pinots are characterized by bright fruit flavors, earthy notes, and silky tannins.

Some of Oregon’s most famous pinot noir producers include Willamette Valley Vineyards, Beaux Freres, and Domaine Serene. Oregon pinot noirs are perfect for pairing with food, and they also age well.

Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are the most widely planted red and white grapes in Oregon, and two of my all-time favorite varieties.  

Oregon Pinot Gris is downright sublime, perhaps not quite as swoony as Alsace, but it bears no resemblance to the insipid bulk Pinot Grigio that drains out of Italy.  

I adore Pinot Noir in any of its terroiristic styles.  But Oregon Pinot Noir is unique (to my palate, anyway) in that it’s a Goldilocks wine.  It’s earthier and less overtly fruity than California Pinot (not as much sunshine in Oregon), but not quite as earthy and funky as Burgundy.  It’s just right.

Left Coast Winery’s Hiking Trails

At Left Coast Cellars there are over two miles of hiking trails. It’s a  birding hotspot (with over 87 different bird species spotted on the property).  

Left Coast Cellars refers to their hiking trails as the Oak Savanna.

You’ll hike through their majestic oaks and take in the beauty of the property.

Children and dogs welcome on the trail. The trail is typically open from Memorial Weekend until October.

There is no fee to hike the trail. But you will be required to stop by the tasting room to check in.

Join us after your hike for wine tasting and wood-fired pizza.

Left Coast Cellars- The Wine

left coast winery

We tasted two Left Coast Cellars Pinots. These two are the most interesting wines I’ve tasted in recent weeks. Consider us impressed.

Left Coast’s The Orchards Pinot Gris /90 points

100% Pinot Gris.  Fermented and aged in stainless steel.  The Orchards Vineyard is planted on the site of an historic apple and pear orchard, dating back to the pioneers who settled Oregon (think Oregon Trail, circa 1840s).

I poured this wine at room temperature (because I forgot to put it in the fridge), and while I don’t usually enjoy tepid whites, in this case, I was rewarded in spades for my memory lapse.  

Good gravy, what Oregon can do with Pinot Gris!  A beautifully expressive nose of yellow apple, lemon curd, pears, minerals, and (even though it doesn’t really make sense with the stainless steel ferment and age) vanilla.  

Dry with an energetic vein of acid.  The ABV comes in at 13.7%, but it didn’t feel hot, or out of whack.  Concentrated and elegant flavors of perfectly ripe pear, honey-crisp apple, lemon, and vanilla.  

I only wish the layered finish had gone on for a smidge longer, but you can’t have it all.

Left Coast’s Cali’s Cuvee Pinot Noir /91 points

100% Pinot Noir.  Fermented in stainless steel, and aged for nine months in 10% New French Oak; the balance in two, three, and four-year French oak.

Insanely approachable.  A slightly bashful nose of red cherry, strawberry, red currant, raspberry, vanilla, nutmeg, and violets.  

Dry and beautifully balanced, with a softness that begs you to pour another glass.  The flavors mirror the nose, with the addition of rhubarb and red plum, with a finish of minerals and white pepper.  13.5% ABV.

Left Coast Cellars Final Tasting Notes

Tasting these two wines reminded me how much I love Oregon, and especially Oregon wines.  I’m thinking about joining an Oregon Wine Club (not one single winery, but a club that curates a variety of Oregon wines).  

If you’re looking for something similar that you can buy now, we’ve got you covered.

Roserock by Drouhin Oregon Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir 2021

Pinot Noir from Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Winemaker Notes

Roserock Pinot Noir is a cuvée selection from the estate’s 35 blocks, which are handpicked, sorted and individually fermented. While Pinot Noirs from the Eola-Amity Hills are typically known for their structure and power, Véronique Drouhin emphasizes Roserock’s elegant and refined qualities, making for a delicious and age worthy cuvée.

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Purple Hands Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021

Pinot Noir from Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley, Oregon I’ve met this small team and was quite impressed with their vineyard and how down to earth they all are. Good humans, making good wine. Winemaker Notes

Shea Vineyard drapes over 140 acres of rolling hills in the Willamette Valley’s Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Dick Shea first planted the Back Block in 1989 and then replanted it in the mid-90s to eliminate the problem of phylloxera, a microscopic insect that feeds on grapevine roots. This fruit is some of the most coveted in the state. Cody sources from the highest elevation Shea block.

Critical Acclaim

JS94 James Suckling

This is a vibrant, flavorful and uplifting pinot with citrus peel, dried flowers, nutmeg, raspberries and red currants on the nose. Medium-bodied, with very fine, focused tannins and crisp acidity. Tasty red fruit and spice throughout.

I was surprised to see it on Wine.com. Get this wine before it’s gone.

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King Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2021

Pinot Gris/Grigio from Willamette Valley, Oregon

Winemaker Notes

Classic hallmarks of Pinot Gris appear on the nose with aromas of ripe pear, lime zest, peach, honeysuckle and lemon blossom. The wine starts off nice and round on the palate with ripe fruit flavors of Asian pear, key lime and nectarine accompanied by jasmine and damp slate. The entrance is followed by bright acidity that carries through to a fresh, balanced and lingering finish.

Critical Acclaim

W&S90 Wine & SpiritsScents of mango and peach hint at a rich wine, but this is youthful and firm on the palate, with plenty of brisk acidity. It needs a few months to settle into itself.

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Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2021

Pinot Gris/Grigio from Willamette Valley, Oregon

Winemaker Notes

With ripe pear, honey and citrus on the nose, this wine opens lush and juicy with white peach, lemon curd and honeydew melon leading to an elegant finish of lemongrass and slate.

Critical Acclaim

D93 Decanter
This is an excellent Pinot Gris from one of the region’s standard-bearers. Made with 100% estate fruit that was whole-cluster-pressed into stainless steel tanks, the straw-coloured wine smells like white peaches and toasted coconut. Pear and peach flavours are joined by hazelnuts on the rich, full palate. The wine’s zippy acidity is like a surprise ending to a movie.

WS90 Wine Spectator
Luscious yet crisp and refreshing, with lively apricot, fresh fig and spice flavors that finish on a polished note.

WE90 Wine Enthusiast
The aromas start out light, with notes of herb, pear, star fruit and other tropical fruits. Broad-feeling flavors follow, showing depth and layering. There’s pleasing balance to it all.
Editors’ Choice

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Left Coast Cellars FAQ

Who owns Left Coast Cellars?

Left Coast Cellars was started in 2003 by Suzanne Larson in Rickreall, Oregon, a town just northwest of Salem and west of the Eola- Amity Hills sub-appellation boundary.

What is white pinot noir?

White Pinot Noir is made with red grapes and as a result richer than many other white wines. It has flavors of baked apple and pear, and notes of honey and orange. Depending on how it’s made, the color can either be pale white gold to a deep red-ish yellow and anywhere in between.

How big is Willamette Valley?

There are 11 total designated wine growing regions within the Willamette Valley. These are referred to as “AVAs” or “American Viticultural Areas.”  The Willamette Valley ore than 100 miles long and 60 miles at its widest point. 3,438,000 acres.

Do you refrigerate a white Pinot Noir?

Because Pinot is more delicate, acidic and lower-tannin than most other red wines, it is best enjoy white Pinot Noir slightly chilled.


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