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Guillén Family Wines 2017 Esteban Pinot Noir

Vineyard laborer to head winemaker

In 2013, the Oregonian’s Katharine Cole wrote, “Jesús Guillén may be the most driven and intellectually gifted winemaker working in Oregon today.” Five years later, at age 38, he was gone. Cancer cut short the life of one of Oregon’s most extraordinary winemakers, whose wines were only surpassed by the path he took to become a winemaker.

Jesús came to Oregon to be close to his father. He had a computer engineering degree, but poor English skills. So, he found work in the vineyard and cellar at White Rose Estate. To expand his skills (and work on his English), he bought all the books assigned by a viticulture program (but didn’t enroll) and spent his free time quizzing local winemakers about their work. By 2008, he was White Rose’s head winemaker.

And in 2009, he won the highest Wine Advocate score ever awarded for an Oregon Pinot Noir. High praise for a man who was never professionally trained and who began his wine career laboring in the fields.

So, in 2009, he started producing under his own label, Guillén Family Wines. Jesús may be gone, but his legacy lives on – in the form of ¡Ahi Voy!, a nonprofit organization he had envisioned to support Latinx vineyard workers seeking to advance in the wine industry.

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Guillén Family Wines, Newberg, Oregon
2017 Esteban Pinot Noir

This is the last wine Jesús produced before he passed away. He was fortunate to be a member of a strong community of winemakers who helped finish this wine and put it in bottle. Anthony King of Carlton Winemakers Studio has now picked up his mantle and is helping his family keep the label alive as a tribute to Jesús and to support his family.

Jesús had a strong winemaking philosophy, and you’ll taste it in this wine: Use 100% whole clusters (rather than mechanized destemming), native yeast, and stir the fruit rather than punch it down. The process raised eyebrows from winemakers, but the results speak for themselves.

The 2017 Esteban Pinot Noir is a blend from three Willamette Valley vineyards. It is a beautiful representation of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Soft and satiny mouthfeel with notes of bright cherry, rose petal, tobacco, and hints of orange zest. It is complex, delicate and savory with a bright finish.

A Cellar 503 selection in June 2021, Winemaking Through The Generations Willamette Valley | Pinot Noir