A special place defines our memories. People we meet also characterize the location and how we remember it. Often we meet people who are so hospitable and gracious, welcoming us into their home or in the case of Irvine & Roberts Vineyards, into their Ashland winery. These traits flow into their wines. It also extends into the Irvine’s sense of community and involvement in Ashland. As one of several wineries located in Ashland Oregon, the winery boasts one of the most magnificent views, but besides the vistas, the wines are outstanding.
I first met Doug and Dionne Irvine at a wine tasting in Los Angeles with a small group of wine writers. At that tasting, we learned about the Rogue Valley A.V.A. and the exceptional location of Irvine & Roberts Vineyards that allows them to focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. This Ashland winery lies between the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains.
The Irvine’s wanted a change of pace from the hectic lifestyle they had with their background in real estate and land development in Southern California. They wanted their daughters to grown up in a different environment, one that expands on nature and its surroundings. Little did they know that this change of scenery would evolve into growing grapes and making wine. This prospect came later. The Irvine’s moved to Ashland in 1997. They purchased their 80-acre ranch in 2001The idea of planting a vineyard occurred in 2005 after a trip to Italy.
From my encounters with Dionne planning a trip with a group of writers, I sensed a strong commitment to the Ashland that goes beyond her winery. One could say that her love for Ashland draws one to discover Irvine & Roberts’ wine but also to explore the community of Ashland. I got a sense of pride in community and dedication. Perhaps this attribute attracts one to become part of the Irvine and Roberts wine community. I know it has inspired me.
Ashland Winery Visit
Of course, the lure of the magnificent view one encounters at the winery certainly immerses you into the perfect setting to enjoy a glass of wine. Sitting out on the patio with perhaps a glass of Rosé or Pinot Noir at sunset watching both the sky above change hues and the gorgeous autumn colors reflect against this backdrop instills an even greater appreciation for the beauty of the scenery and the wine.
Even the winery luncheon showcase the generosity and hospitality of the Doug and Dionne. Enjoying a delicious homemade lunch of Coq Au Vin, Roasted vegetables, and salad accompanied by the wine enhanced our visit. Even the colors of the culinary dishes spread before us accentuated the autumn hues of our vista.
From a background of real estate, they always say location, location, and location. Situated between the confluence of two mountain ranges, the Irvine’s certainly picked the perfect site, especially for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Siskiyou Mountains create a rain shadow, so the rainfall in the area is moderate. Because the vineyards are located at a higher elevation, the vineyards consist of sedimentary soils and the diurnal influence of the cascade mountain reflect in their wines. Numerous ancient and active rivers give the vineyards a wide range of topsoils, including gravel and alluvial deposits. Typical of the Cascades are the decomposed sandstone and granite soils, with granite outcroppings. Mixed in are some volcanic soils.
The Irvine’s planted 5 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines in 2007, and they released their first vintage in 2009. In 2012 and an additional 23 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier were planted. All vines included the seven clones of Pinot Noir they grow are planted with an east-facing aspect, which allows for morning sun.
Many exciting changes occurred in 2017. That year both their tasting room opened, and their winery was completed. It was also the year they hired their current winemaker, Vince Vidrine.
Doug and Dionne believe in ecological sustainability both as a commitment to their land and the surrounding valleys. Irvine & Roberts are L.I.V.E. Certified, Salmon-Safe Certified. They practice organic grape growing.
Joining Irvine & Roberts in 2017, Vince Vidrine’s experience made him an ideal candidate for producing outstanding Pinot Noir. From Dry River Wines in Martinborough, New Zealand to Domaine Naudin Ferrand in Burgundy to Domaine Serene and Brittan Vineyards in the Willamette Valley led him to his current endeavor. It also developed his philosophy towards winemaking, which encompasses seeking balance through the terroir yet incorporating his style.
Irvine & Roberts Chardonnay
Irvine & Roberts create two Chardonnay, one an estate and the other a barrel select.
I found the Estate Chardonnay bright and refreshing Burgundian style Chardonnay. On the nose and palate, one finds apples and pears. This wine ages in 30% new oak. The idea is the oak sets the stage to show off the wine.
The Reserve Barrel Selection Chardonnay sees more new oak in its aging, thereby bringing out toasty and brioche to augment the flavors of apple.
Irvine & Roberts Rosé of Pinot Noir
The clone 777 Pinot grapes are intentionally farmed for Rosé. Find a very beautifully balanced Rosé with nice acidity; floral aromas especially rose petals and fruity flavors of strawberry on the palate.
Irvine & Roberts Pinot Noir
The Estate Pinot Noir is Irvine & Roberts flagship wine. The wine utilizes all seven clones of Pinot Noir grown on the estate. I found a soft, light, and elegant yet bright with savory qualities and baking spice on the finish.
Although I sampled a selection of Irvine and Roberts Pinot Noir, these were my favorites.
The Wadenswil clone Pinot Noir comes across as bigger and more determined in its focus and style.
Irvine & Roberts Reserve Pinot Noir delivers a rounder and fuller expression. One finds the wine is created with mostly the Pommard clone and emphasizes darker fruits.
Irvine & Roberts Pinot Meunier
Very few wineries produce Pinot Meunier as a varietal in a still wine. I consider the Irvine & Roberts version, the most outstanding Pinot Meunier I have ever sampled. The wine exhibits beautiful perfumes on the nose. It delivers a lively but balanced wine with its fruity character, bright cherry flavors, accented by savory nuances.
All in all, one must visit Irvine & Roberts during a trip to Ashland, as the winery exemplifies the quality of wine produces from this southern Oregon winery and in the Rogue Valley.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer enjoyed a hosted visit to this Ashland winery. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.