Stories of Passion and Pinot

Last Update – February 2023

I attended my first wine bloggers conference in 2014 in Santa Barbara California. One of the conference sessions was a panel of 3 seasoned professional wine writers, who were talking about the intricacies of wine writing based on their long experience. Among many “tips of the trade” presented in that session, there was one that really didn’t resonate with me at that time – interviews. They kept going about the importance of the interviews, how good interviews are conducted, do-s and don’t-s, subjects, and so on. While listening to them, the major thought on my mind was “why”. What is so special about the interview? I’m writing about the wines, not about the people. I can taste the wine and get all the information from the back label or the website – why do I ever need to interview someone to write my blog post?

It was probably about a year or so later when I was offered to meet a winemaker and taste the wines. That didn’t work for my schedule, so I thought “fine, I can’t meet in person, but why don’t I come up with some questions, get answers over email, and publish an interview on my blog? That is not the same as meeting face to face, but this is still a form of conversation which would help my readers to learn more about the wines”. I studied about the winery online, came up with the questions, got answers, and published the post – and this gave birth to the “one on one with winemaker” series.

Some of the bloggers who had been doing it for a while might remember Wine Studio events. Those were conversations on Twitter, usually focusing on the winery or a region, where the “wine person” (winemaker, importer, distributor,…) had an opportunity to present their wine(s), region, or a winery via Twitter short messages with the #winestudio hashtag, and all of the participants in the chat had an opportunity to ask questions as they desired. It was through the Wine Studio chats that I started learning more about the Oregon Pinot Noir wines (I had been drinking Oregon Pinot for many years prior, but drinking wine and understanding wine are two very different things). In one of the chats, I learned about the Van Duzer corridor. Then there was a chat with Steve Lutz, the winemaker and owner of Lenné Estate. Steve’s talk about poor rocky soils and dying vines was full of passion – even in the format of short Twitter messages, it definitely made it a memorable experience.

At that same wine bloggers conference in 2014, I met Carl Giavanti, the wine publicist working with a number of Oregon wineries. We kept in touch afterward, and one of our conversations came to the subject of winemaker interviews – I already published a few to that moment and obviously changed my opinion of the interviews from “why” to “absolutely, any time”.  We were talking a lot about Oregon winemakers, and after reading some of their unique stories, the passion (or, rather, an obsession) was clearly an essential element of the winery’s functioning – the result of our conversations with Carl was the birth of “Passion and Pinot” series of interviews with Oregon winemakers.

The new series was announced in this post on September 1, 2016. Over the next few months, I published interviews with Ken Wright Cellars, Alloro Vineyard, Ghost Hill Cellars, Youngberg Hill Vineyards, Lenné Estate, and Vidon Vineyard. Over the next 3 years, I added a few more, and then some. I also talked to the folks at the Willamette Valley winery association, which ended up being an interesting conversation (see below).

In 2021 I finally had an opportunity to visit some of the wineries in person, thanks to the Wine Media Conference 2021 hosted in Eugene, Oregon – and I was able to publish a number of updates on some of the prior interviews and add a new interview with Sarah Cabot, the winemaker at Battle Creek Cellars.

The Passion for Pinot is strong in Oregon, and the new interviews will be coming this year – Gran Moraine, WillaKenzie, and even David Adelsheim, one of the cornerstone figures in the Oregon wine industry, graciously agreed to answer my questions despite his super-busy schedule.

For the ease of navigating the series, below you will find all the links to the wineries and winemaker interviews, sorted chronologically. This will be a live page, so I would like to invite you to visit this page from time to time to read more of the exciting stories.

Pour yourself a glass of Pinot, and – happy reading.

Before Passion and Pinot became Passion and Pinot:

Left Coast Cellars – Interview with Luke McCollum – Part 1Part 2.

General Passion and Pinot series posts:

Series Introduction

2019 Series update

Conversation with Anthony King and Emily Nelson of Willamette Valley Wineries Association

Wineries and winemakers profiled in the Passion and Pinot series:

Adelsheim VineyardInterview with David Adelsheim

Alloro VineyardInterview with David Nemarnik.

Battle Creek CellarsInterview with Sarah Cabot.

Bells Up WineryInterview with Dave Specter2021 update.

Ghost Hill CellarsInterview with Mike Bayliss.

Gran MoraineInterview with Shane Moore.

Iris VineyardsInterview with Richard Boyles.

Ken Wright CellarsInterview with Ken Wright.

Knudsen VineyardsInterview with Page Knudsen.

Le Cadeau VineyardInterview with Tom Mortimer2021 update.

Lenné EstateInterview with Steve Lutz2021 update.

Potter’s VineyardInterview with Bill Sanchez

Tendril CellarsInterview with Tony Rynders.

Vidon VineyardInterview with Don Hagge.

Utopia VineyardInterview with Dan Warnshuis2021 update.

WillaKenzie EstateInterview with Erik Kramer

Youngberg Hill VineyardsInterview with Wayne Bailey2021 update.

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