Sharing a Special Place: The Wines of Sojourner Vineyard

"When you drink and love wine, there are certain vineyards you walk in and say, this is special."

That sentiment from Walter Scott winemaker/co-proprietor Ken Pahlow captures how we've felt about Sojourner Vineyard for a few years. We first got to know it -- red-dirt-on-the-shoes know it -- because our dear friends live in a home at the foot of the vineyard. Friendship and fond memories created a gateway to discover the beauty that lies on that lovely little bench at 650 feet and the beautiful wines it creates. Perched high in the Eola-Amity Hills, staring into the gap in the Coast Range known as the Van Duzer Corridor, Sojourner Vineyard is a truly special place.

Share this special place with us through the wines of Walter Scott and Evesham Wood, two wineries that are very special to us. The two Sojourner Vineyard designates represent our Oregon Reserve Pinot Noir Club selections for October; as such, all club members receive 15%!

Evesham Wood Sojourner Vineyard Pinot noir 2015
$32.35 in any 12 bottle or Build a Case order ($35.95 regular

After my first taste of the newest Evesham single vineyard Pinot noir, I badgered Erin for weeks to release it to us. Because that's what I do when I taste and love a wine! The first thing that drew me to this wine was the aromatics -- so fragrant and fresh, soaring from the glass with crushed red fruit and floral essence -- the nexus of invigorating and inviting. An initially silky and fresh attack of dark cherry and concentrated raspberry picks up layers of savory rosemary and earth. With more air, the cool structure of this beauty reveals itself and hints at its long cellar life ahead. Thoroughly captivating now but I plan to stash a 6-pack for drinking in 6-10 years. - Marcus

Walter Scott Sojourner Vineyard Pinot noir 2015 
$44.95 in any 12 bottle or Build a Case order ($49.95 regular) 

Entering the scene as a "grand piano Pinot" -- there are a few more notes to be struck in both the higher and lower register, all of which make the music prettier and more complete. Displaying an exuberant Oregon wild red berry basket complemented by subtle oak spice and bold mineral accents, Sojo finishes focused and fresh with plenty more to give. An engaging drink already, I recommend giving the wine some breathing room if you open it now and pairing it with duck and chanterelle risotto. Even better: mark your calendar for a lovely evening in October of 2022 when you'll pull a bottle from the cellar and experience its apex. - Marcus

More on Sojourner Vineyard and the vineyard designates from Walter Scott and Evesham Wood

When I called Ken to ask for his Sojourner-related thoughts, the timing was too coincidental: he was in the middle of pressing 2017 Sojourner. Generally speaking, it's not at all tough to get Ken to talk about vineyards he loves but he is especially effsuive and complimentary about Sojourner.

"We've ramped up so that Sojourner is now our biggest production vineyard designate, for obvious reasons."

"I think it will be viewed as one of the best vineyards in the Valley," he quickly opined about Sojourner. "It is all about finesse, elegance and minerality, everything I love about the Eola-Amity Hills. It's always red-fruited and heavily influenced by the Van Duzer winds, so it's nice and cool and one of our later picks. There's drive and tension with delicacy."

Ken has had his choice of Sojourner's blocks and Pinot noir clones (Pommard, Wadenswil, and Dijon 115); he chooses to harvest and ferment them together, "to give a complete portrait of the vineyard." Utilizing 30% whole grape clusters (meaning stems included) and ambient yeasts for fermentation, the final blend saw 40% new oak barrels (all French, of course).

Ken was quick to mention vineyard owners Denny and Thelma Peseau, who had the vision or forethought to purchase and plant the amazing site. The Peseaus were the original owners of another superb Eola-Amity site, Eola Springs, which is a stone's throw from Sojourner. They are lovely people without whom Sojourner would be a mere plot of earth.

Ken thoughtfully selects the vineyards they work with, in part by the quality of the grapes and the location but also in part by relationships. "We look for good stewards of the land. We look for people who share our vision of letting the site and the vintage shine through. And we look for people we might like to sit down and share a glass of wine with." 

Evesham Wood's relationship with the Peseaus goes back more than 20 years to when they owned Eola Springs Vineyard, which was long the backbone of Evesham's non-estate bottlings. When Eola Springs sold, winemaker/owner Erin Nuccio transitioned to Sojourner.

Erin, who has exacting standards, said this when asked about how much he likes the vineyard: "I told Denny, do not ask, just give me more fruit! I will never say no to more fruit from Sojourner."

Citing many of the same reasons Ken did and expressing the same obviousness, Erin had a sort-of "well, duh" response when asked what he likes about the vineyard. Though he hadn't fully decided to make a single vineyard Sojourner 2015 until the wines were in barrel, as he tasted in the cellar he realized, "I'd be upset with myself if I didn't," and the newest Evesham Wood single vineyard wine was born. Five barrels were selected for the bottling (125 cases).

Whereas Ken blends three Pinot noir clones together, Erin sources only Pommard because of personal preference and the desire to continue Evesham's legacy. "It is my favorite clone, and also Russ's (Evesham's founder)." Other notable winemaking techniques differ in their respective cellars: Evesham fully de-stems all of their grapes, never using whole clusters, uses their proprietary "J" yeast, and incorporated 20% new (French) oak.

We look forward to sharing this special place with you through Walter Scott and Evesham Wood's beautiful Pinot noirs. Thank you for reading and for your support!

- Marcus & Andy