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Ayres Vineyard

Ayres Vineyard 2020 Pinot Noir

The road to Oregon

Over 165 years ago, Kathleen McLeroy’s great-grandfather came to Oregon in a covered wagon. As a leader of the famous “Lost Wagon Train of ‘53”, he helped a group of pioneers survive the trip over the Cascade Range and into the Willamette Valley. Desperate, cold, and hungry, they knew that the Valley would be a source of agricultural bounty.

Fast forward to the turn of this century, and Kathleen and her husband decided to pack up their Subaru and head west to the Willamette Valley. Brad had sold his Kansas City wine shop, and inspired by the wines he tasted at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, he wanted to try his hand at making Pinot Noir. They had a dream, but they had no house, no land, and no plan.

But manifest destiny lives. And before long, they’d found 38 acres near Newberg that became the Ayres Vineyard. Pinot Noir planted in 2001. Pinot Blanc in 2002. First harvest in 2003. And in 2008, Brad poured his wine at IPNC, returning to the place that first inspired him to change the course of his life.

As Mark Twain said, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it surely rhymes.

Ayres Vineyard

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Ayres Vineyard, Newberg, Oregon
2020 Pinot Noir

For the world, 2020 was the year of COVID. But for Oregon wines, it got even worse. The growing season started out beautiful and warm and ended with wildfires sweeping through the Willamette Valley. No vineyards were burned, but was the wine all ruined?

I’ve been on my soapbox all year on the topic of “smoke taint”. It’s important to talk about the issue rather than hide our heads in the sand. Some out-of-state critics want to write off the entire 2020 Oregon vintage – that’s bonkers!

After all, some vineyards weren’t affected, some winemakers made rosé instead, and yes, some winemakers dumped their red wine down the drain! But here’s the thing – not all smoke is bad. In fact, in many red wines we enjoy the char and toast of oak barrels.

This Pinot Noir from Ayres has a barely-perceptible hint of smokiness to it that lends a lovely, grilled-meat quality to the wine. The Ayres Pinot Noirs have always been a little lusher, a little darker than others in the Valley, making the hint of smoke a lovely savoriness, alongside deep black and blue fruit notes. Grill a steak or chicken, and enjoy!

A Cellar 503 selection in October 2021, Pinot, Pinot, Pinot Willamette Valley | Pinot Noir