Located just 10 miles west of downtown Portland, Cooper Mountain Vineyards is located in the far northern reaches of Oregon’s Willamette Valley on Cooper Mountain next to the vines that Dr. Robert Gross and his wife Corinne planted in 1978; Corinne was from the area, and they wanted their three children to grow up there too.
“Our land is our life and our life is our wine.” Cooper Mountain’s Motto
After 10 years of growing grapes, they decided to make their own wine by turning an old horse barn into a winery. By the early 1990s, they evolved to grow organically (certified by Oregon Tilth in 1995) and biodynamically (certified by Demeter in 1999).
Back then there were only a handful of wineries and a few vineyards; today there are over 500 wineries, with many of them making world class Pinot noir and as of 2015, more than half of them (52%) are certified sustainably farmed with a significant number of them biodynamically farmed (about 2500 acres in 2015 with more added just this year from Troon and possibly others). See below for links to discussions of many of these biodynamic wineries)
Why biodynamic? The proof is in the glass they say:
- wines are more lively and balanced
- the wines are less subject to flaw such as oxidation, microbiological attack, etc
- they express the notion of terroir: authentication with our style and profile
- they are healthier
What makes a wine biodynamic? According to Cooper Mountain Vineyards, a biodynamic wine is:
- made from Biodynamic Grapes
- made with native yeast and bacteria for fermentation
- uses a maximum 100 ppm Total SO2 added from the primary fermentation to the bottle
- does not allow acidification, chaptalization, or corrective additions
Cooper Mountain also practices carbon mitigation because “the threat of climate change through global warming could drastically alter the landscape of grape growing in the Willamette Valley.” Pinot noir requires a cool climate and global warming threatens these Oregon vineyards. They see it as their “duty to lead the agricultural business to neutrality.”
Cooper Mountain follows these seven rules:
- manage the vines in such a way that they will live up 90 years
- do not irrigate the vines (dry farm)
- seek to prevent problems, not repress them
- see disease as having a domino effect
- follow the law of the minimum
- use homeopathic remedies
- test and taste the wines to hear what they are telling them in terms of management
In other words, a biodynamic vineyard:
- DOES NOT apply synthetic and outside fertilizer sources
- DOES NOT apply synthetic pesticides and fungicides
- DOES apply fertilization from their own compost which received biodynamic preparation
- DOES use herbal preparations in order to create a natural balance in the vineyard
- DOES maintain an ecosystem within and around the vineyard in order to develop the use of predators and biological life in the soil
- DOES spray in accordance to the solar and lunar calendar
Today founder Bob Gross and daughter Barbara run the business and manage their 185.6 biodynamic acres as Cooper Mountain Vineyards celebrates over 40 years in the business in what is now known as the Chehalem Mountains AVA.
- Cheese plate with duck pate, double cream brie, roasted truffle almonds, duck liver
- Strawberries over fresh greens with fresh mozzarella, Great Basin Bakery nuts, and champagne vinegarette.
- Roast duck with roasted organic russets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli
sample for my review consideration
Can I get a lipstick in this color?
It smells like Oregon…
Sue: “Oh my God this wine is so delicious!”
There is more going on than just fresh fruit, but the fresh fruit is so fun in the wine.
sample for my review consideration
- Color: Blood red, cherry, platinum rim,
- Nose: Earthen funk, river moss, flinty, strawberry, rhubarb; Judy got red flame table grapes.
- Palate: Rhubarb, strawberry and bright red cherry, super fresh with nice acidity. There is more earth on the nose than on the palate, but those earthy truffle notes are still present. You could definitely lay this wine down for a few years which would mellow the tannins.
- Pairing: We love pate and brie together with a nice Pinot Noir, but with this wine, it doesn’t want the brie, it just wants the duck pate with all the different spices. This wine responds to truffle flavors so well. The truffle marcona almonds are so fabulous with the wine that it was one of the evening’s best pairs! Good with the salad, it does not bring out the brightness of the strawberries, but likes the fresh mozzarella. The rich fattiness of the duck SO enhances the flavors of the wine, bringing out nice fruit and a beautiful mouth feel.
Cooper Mountain also grows and makes Chardonnay as well as other white wines; they even have one that’s under $20 that was featured in the New York Times in 2017 where Eric Asimov described the organic and biodynamic Cooper Mountain Vineyards Willamette Valley Cooper Hill Pinot Noir 2015 as elegant, with floral and herbal notes, a meatier character, and “a deliciously savory edge.”
Looking for more Oregon biodynamic wines? Here’s a list:
Columbia Gorge AVA
• Analemma Wines
Dundee Hills AVA
Eola-Amity Hills AVA
• Keeler Estate Vineyard
Ribbon Ridge AVA
• Brick House Vineyards
Willamette Valley AVA
• King Estate
Applegate Valley AVA
Rogue Valley AVA
• Upper Five Vineyard
NEW: add Troon
The month of May is Oregon Wine Month, and the Wine Pairing Weekend group of wine writers is celebrating Oregon wine by focusing on biodynamic wines, particularly those of the Willamette Valley. Below is a list of the dishes and wine pairings that are in store this month for Wine Pairing Weekend’s Biodynamic Wines of Oregon event. These recipes will go live before this Saturday’s May 11th Twitter chat at 8am PT. Follow #winepw as we discuss the behind the scenes of our recipe pairings and share thoughts on these amazing wines.
- David of Cooking Chat has prepared “Salmon, Farro and Mushrooms with Winderlea Pinot Noir”
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camila is celebrating with “Simple Pleasures, A Birthday Cheeseboard, & Keeler Estate Vineyards’ 2017 Terracotta Amphorae Riesling“
- Jill of L’Occasion writes about “Peace, Bread, Land and Wine’: A Meal With Brooks Winery“
- Jennifer of Vino Travels will share “Biodynamic Wines of the Willamette Valley with King Estate“
- Lori of Dracaena Wines will present “Continuing the Biodynamic Legacy #WinePW“
- Jane from Always Ravenous pairs “Wild Alaskan Salmon with Herbed Ricotta and Oregon Pinot Noir”
- Pinny of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings combines “Biodynamic Grüner Veltliner and Pinot Noir from Johan Vineyards Plus Surf ‘n’ Turf Dinner”
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass shares “Ode to Oregon: Johan’s Biodynamic Expression of Place (#WinePW)”
- Gwendolyn Alley from Wine Predator will present “Our land is our life and our life is our wine” — Cooper Mountain Pinot Paired with Duck #WinePW
- Deana from Asian Test Kitchen has whipped up “Oregon Orange Wine Sparkles with Indian Curry”
- Wendy Klik A Day in the Life on the Farm discovers “Dammit!! These are some great wines from Willamette.
- Lauren Walsh of The Swirling Dervish will tempt us with “Pork Loin, Mushrooms, and Fiddlehead Ferns Meet Biodynamic Pinot Noir from Bergström Wines (#WinePW)”
- Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog brings us “A Taste of Cooper Mountain Vineyards at the Table #WinePW“
- Jeff of Food Wine Click is pairing “Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken”
- Payal of Keep the Peas is presenting “Living off the Land: King Estate Pinot Noir + Mushroom Pâté”
- Rupal of Syrah Queen is sharing “Maysara Winery – Iranian Immigrants Achieving The American Dream”
- Jade of Tasting Pour will share “Thai Green Curry Rockfish and Montinore Estate Gewurztraminer #WinePW”
- Nicole of Somm’s Table shares “A Hunt for a Biodynamic Williamette Valley Wine: Johan Vineyards Farmland Pinot Noir and Salmon“
Cheers to Oregon Wine Month! Stay tuned for more Oregon Wine Adventures here on Wine Predator!