Alloro Vineyard: Defining the Chehalem Mountains AVA

Alloro Vineyard Landscape, Chehalem Mountains AVA
Visiting Alloro Vineyard, one gets a good sense of what the Chehalem Mountains AVA is all about. Located west of Portland in Sherwood, a portion of the Tualatin Valley, the winery also sits in the northern part of the Willamette Valley.

Chehalem Mountains AVA

The Chehalem Mountains AVA was established in 2006. The soils consist of three types: basaltic, ocean sedimentary, and loess. The Loess soils are known as Laurelwood and are specific to certain parts of the Chehalem Mountains AVA, including the Alloro Vineyard.

Alloro means Laurel in Italian, and it aptly describes the winery’s location, which extends along the southern face of Laurel Ridge.  It also defines the soil type that is prevalent in the Alloro wines.

Alloro Vineyard Winery

David Nemarnik established the winery in 1999. Their first vintage was in 2002. As a business major, David began by working for a produce distribution company. Farming has always been his business, especially growing hazelnuts and raising cattle and lambs. His family’s heritage, Italian and Croatian, played a role in his love of food and wine.  He started by making homemade wine, which led to the beginning of his winery.

Alloro Vineyard owner, David Nemarnik
Alloro Vineyard owner, David Nemarnik

The property consists of 110 acres, of which 33 are planted with vines, mostly Pinot Noir. Besides Pinot, David grows Chardonnay, Riesling, and Muscat.

Alloro is Live certified, and their sustainability is mostly science-based. The vineyards are also certified Salmon Safe and IOBC Certified Sustainable. The vines are dry farmed, and with the other crops grown and animals raised, the property becomes a whole farm setting and ecosystem.

The design of the winery incorporates the best of technology, including solar energy, yet also utilizes the traditional aspects of winemaking through gravity flow as the wine moves from the crush pad into the caves that house the barrels.

Barrels in the Cave at Alloro Vineyard
Alloro Vineyard Cave with barrels.

Winemaker Tom Fitzpatrick graduated from UC Davis and trained in Burgundy. His style of creating wine promotes the philosophy of terroir-driven wines that express their location.

Allore Vineyard Visit

Visiting the winery, one feels like they are in Tuscany. The Nemarnik’s home is reminiscent of an Italian farmhouse; the winery and the landscaping with its cypress trees take one to Italy’s countryside. Sitting out on the patio enhances this feeling and makes for a relaxing day of wine tasting.

Alloro Vineyard House
Like a Tuscan Farmhouse, the Alloro Vineyard House sits overlooking the vineyards.

In 2021, Alloro opened a new tasting room.  In keeping with the Tuscan ambiance of the winery, the new building’s exterior takes you to Italy with its country-styled architecture.  The interior has a modern concept with its high-beamed ceilings.

Alloro Vineyard Wine Tasting Room
Alloro Vineyard Wine Tasting Room

This Chehalem winery now offers exquisite views of the vineyards and valley.

Alloro Vineyard View
Alloro Vineyard View

While sipping wine, the winery’s social ambassador, Magpie, a black Labrador, greets you. Magpie exudes a profound presence at the winery. Even after whelping a litter of puppies, Magpie could easily be dragged away from her pups to perform her winery duties of greeting and making you feel at home.

Magpie, Alloro Vineyard Social Ambassador
Magpie, a black Labrador, and Alloro Vineyard’s Social Ambassador

Alloro Wines:

Alloro Estate Chardonnay 2016:  The wine is defined in both flavor and aromas by pear. The wine ages in 10% new French Oak, which gives it its roundness.

Alloro Riesling 2017:  This Riesling is crisp and refreshing, bringing forth a wonderful minerality that enhances the florals, pear, and citrus flavors found in the wine.

Alloro Pinot Noir:  My visit included sampling the 2014 and the 2015 Pinot Noir. Both were soft and elegant, but 2015 revealed a bit more spice on the finish. These wines represent a blending of all the Alloro blocks on the estate.  This Pinot Noir, therefore, speaks to the entire property as a whole.

Alloro Riservata Pinot Noir 2015:  This wine ages in 25 -30% new French Oak.  The Pinot Noir also signifies a blending of various blocks on the Alloro estate. The wine comes across with a bolder expression of the dark fruits.

Alloro Vineyard Wine
Alloro Vineyard Wine

Alloro Justina:  Although I did not have the opportunity to sample it, this wine represents the very best barrels from the vintage.

Allore Nettare Dessert 2016:  This dessert wine consists of late-harvest Muscat created as an ice-type wine. The wine has marvelous flavors of florals and stone fruit that exude subtle sweetness, making it an ideal dessert wine.

In summing up, the wines from Alloro Vineyard uniquely define the affinity the Nemarnik’s and their winemaker have with this Chehalem Mountains AVA location.

Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer was hosted to this winery visit. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.