As Oregon's largest winery, King Estate Winery is a full of dichotomies. The spacious 1,033-acre estate and vineyards have been carefully planned with exceptional environmental awareness; dozens of scurrying worker-bee employees treat everyone as if they're a guest of honor; and annual production is huge, yet each wine tastes like a handcrafted gem.
In short, despite its size, this winery pays attention to the smallest of details.
King Estate is virtually self-sustaining, and because of its somewhat isolated location, it has to be. Situated about 30 minutes from Eugene near the south end of Willamette Valley and amidst a sea of undulating grassy-green hills, it's home to 470 acres of certified organic vineyards, a 170,000-case-per-year production facility, plus a tasting room, restaurant, fruit and vegetable gardens, bakery and charcuterie.
The 431,000 vines are meticulously groomed by vineyard manager Meliton Martinez and staff, but you won't find weed-free, perfectly landscaped vineyards here. That's because the winery practices sustainable farming without the use of herbicides or toxic chemicals, and every other row is planted with a crop cover, such as clover, wheat and oats, to supply nitrogen to the soil.
Fertilization comes from the estate's huge composting system, and pests are controlled naturally thanks to raptor boxes that house hawks, owls and kestrels.
I visited King Estate over the Memorial Day weekend, and Quentin Ransone, the sales and marketing/brand ambassador, did a first-class job as my tour guide and pourer of tastes from the impressive wine list.
Our first stop was the winery restaurant, adjacent to the tasting bar. Ransone told me the menu includes vegetables that are either grown organically on the estate or supplied by local farmers. Sauces are made from scratch, breads are baked fresh daily, and some of the meats are cured at the charcuterie.
A few of the many notable menu items include the poached egg and asparagus appetizer served on toasted brioche and truffle greens, and the melt-in-your-mouth, slightly smoky, estate-made pastrami with sauerkraut and Gruyere cheese on rye, which was nothing short of gastronomic bliss.
It doesn't hurt to have world-class wines to pair with your meal, and King Estate has that more than covered. As you might suspect with most Oregon wineries, pinot noir and pinot gris are the main focus, but the winery also produces an outstanding chardonnay and several reds sourced from Washington vineyards.
Next week: Recommended wines from King Estate.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at www.danthewineguy.com.
Reach DEAN KAHN at email@example.com or call 715-2291.