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Björnson Vineyard 2019 Viola Auxerrois

Finding their place on the planet

It was a pear tree in full bloom that made Pattie and Mark Björnson fall in love with Oregon. It was just so “exotic” compared to the hard winters of Minnesota and North Dakota where they grew up.

When their first child was born, they took a family trip to Europe and toured the hills on a tandem bike, always staying at wineries. Before long, the passion was awakened – and the family goal became to build their careers toward moving to Oregon, buying land, and planting vines. By 2005, that dream came true and Mark and Pattie (now with four kids) found their spot in the Eola-Amity Hills.

Now, Mark is the self-taught farmer and all-around fix-it guy and Pattie is the winemaker, having been mentored by Cellar 503 partner winemakers Jon Grochau and Drew Voit.

Their best wines are always named in tribute to their grandparents. Pattie’s grandmother Viola was a strong German-American woman who raised five children, survived polio, and as Pattie recounts, “always said goodbye with a firm bear hug chuckling, ‘I love you so much, I could squeeeeeze you to pieces.’”

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Björnson Vineyard, Salem, Oregon
2019 Viola Auxerrois

Ah, Auxerrois. If you’re new to Cellar 503, this wine is almost certainly new to you – and you’re in for a treat. You see, Auxerrois is grown at only five vineyards in Oregon, and almost nowhere else outside Europe — where you’ll find it growing along France’s northeast border with Germany, in the Alsace region.

(Quick lesson: Pronounce it with a hard X and a soft R, “ox-uh-wah”.)

Here are Cellar 503, we love the strong backbone of lemon/line acidity alongside a wet-stone minerality that you find in every Auxerrois – and this is the third of the five Oregon vineyards that we’ve featured!

At Björnson, they’ve used neutral acacia wood barrels in addition to the typical stainless steel tanks for fermentation. In addition to the usual flavors of ripe green apples and rich, hard cheese nuttiness, you’ll notice fresh white peaches and spring flowers on the nose when you open the bottle. In spring, enjoy this with Dungeness crab. In fall, it’ll be great with oysters. Or maybe, go another direction and enjoy with pad Thai.

A Cellar 503 selection in May 2020, Women Winemakers Eola-Amity Hills | Auxerrois