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Varnum Vintners

Varnum Vintners 2021 Rosé

Drink it, don’t overthink it.

Cyler Varnum likes to say his wines are “made to drink, don’t overthink”. A catchy phrase that belies the serious thought he and his wife Taralyn have put into their wines.

When I asked him if he considered himself part of the natural wine movement, he laughed and rolled his eyes. “Yes,” he said, “I consider myself a natural winemaker – I use grapes from sustainably harvested vineyards, don’t add yeast, and make minimal interventions to the wine. But I’m not a religious extremist!”

Cyler was trained as a natural resource manager and thought he’d become a fish farmer. But after a semester in Australia, he decided wine was his true calling. He interned with Oregon’s famed organic Lemelson Vineyards and went back to Arizona full of excitement. Before long, he tried to make wine in Arizona, even planting some grapes. But quickly realized that it wasn’t likely that wine could ever be made in a sustainable way in Arizona.

So, he and Taralyn, a high school science teacher, packed up their bags and made their way to Oregon. Their scientific backgrounds make them a natural fit for winemaking and their fun, understated attitudes sell their wines without a lot of fuss.

Varnum Vintners

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Varnum Vintners, Amity, Oregon
2021 Rosé

This “designer” rosé — as Cyler likes to call it — is a blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay, with a splash of Gewürztraminer for aromatics and a splash of Tempranillo for color.

In addition to a blend of varietals, it’s a blend of grapes from select sites in the Willamette Valley. Each varietal wine was fermented separately and aged on their lees in neutral oak barrels to soften the texture. The resulting wine is a gloriously juicy, complex rosé with interesting floral characteristics and a rich mouth feel.

Just open a bottle on a sunny day, put your feet up, and don’t stop until you’ve had enough. Maybe one more after that.

A Cellar 503 selection in April 2022, Blends Willamette Valley | Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo