Chardonnay is the cool kid in Oregon right now. Pinot gris vines are being grafted over to Chardonnay and prices are very quickly mirroring those of prime Pinot noir. John Grochau nabbed some excellent fruit from Bunker Hill Vineyard and made two Chardonnays — a vineyard designate and a Willamette Valley. We like both but for the coin, it’s tough to beat the WV.
John was first introduced to wine and the winemaking landscape in his early twenties while racing bicycles for a French team in the Loire Valley. For several years, he raced through some of France’s most revered winemaking regions including Champagne, Burgundy and across the Loire Valley. When he returned to his hometown of Portland, he went to work in the restaurant business and quickly discovered an even greater appreciation for wine.
After more than a decade selling wine in some of Portland’s finest restaurants, including a 14-year stint at iconic restaurant Higgins, John plunged into winemaking. He spent a year in Sonoma before returning to Oregon to work at Erath, and then worked alongside winemaker Doug Tunnell at Brick House Vineyards for four years. His first vintage as owner and winemaker at Grochau Cellars was 2002.