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Chris James Cellars

Chris James Cellars 2021 Grüner Veltliner

You’re almost there… keep going…

Beth Barnes and Chris James say their vineyard is “off the beaten path” – and they’re right about that. This is one of those over the river, through the woods, up a dirt wagon road, miles from cell phone range wineries.

But once you’re there – wow is it worth it! Stunning views of the entire valley from the gorgeous deck outside their tasting room make your trek worth the effort.

On their first date, Chris told Beth that he would some day be a winemaker and live on a vineyard so she would know what she was getting in to. But she may not have quite realized what was in store: When they bought this 60-acre property, there wasn’t even driveway access –the only way in was through the neighbor’s horse pasture. It was covered in Douglas fir and not ready for grapes.

But after clearing the land, they’ve got eight acres of vines planted, first with Pinot Noir, and many more unique varietals coming. Which is exactly what Chris loves. When I met with him I must’ve tasted more than 10 wines and he kept rattling off more that were in the barrel!

Chris James Cellars

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Chris James Cellars, Carlton, Oregon
2021 Grüner Veltliner

Wow! This is the eighth time we’ve featured Grüner Veltliner — I guess I’ve got a thing for this grape.

And why not? This lovely, high acid, interesting wine is perfect with food and grows amazingly well here in Oregon. Originally an Austrian varietal and often overlooked, Grüner is a versatile grape that can be made in many different styles — from easy-drinking porch-pounders to deep, herbaceous food-friendly wines.

This 2021 edition from Chris James is an acid-driven wine with aromas of green apple lime and nectarine, and layered flavors of lemon, honey, nuts, and a hint of creaminess.

Grüner is best enjoyed with rich foods that can handle the acid, and spicy foods that benefit from the textural complexity. In Austria, a perfectly-fried wienerschnitzel. Here, I love it with spicy Asian foods.

A Cellar 503 selection in December 2022, Holiday Wines Willamette Valley | Grüner Veltliner