Lake Oswego Review: Oregon wines are simply amazing

Written by Barb Randall for the Lake Oswego Review:

Joe Dobbes, founder and winemaker of Dobbes Family Estate Winery.

Joe Dobbes, founder and winemaker of Dobbes Family Estate Winery.

The more I learn about wine, the more I realize how little I know. Thank goodness there are experts who love sharing their knowledge.

My friend, Lauren Barnes, is the marketing director for Dobbes Family Estate Winery, and she recently invited me to spend an afternoon touring the winery with founder and winemaker Joe Dobbes. I love an excuse for a field trip, so gladly accepted and took the scenic drive to the winemaking facilities in Dundee.

Joe has three decades of wine-making experience behind him. He began his career in 1985, apprenticing at Weingut Erbhof Tesch in Germany’s Nahe region and at Dominique G. Roumier and Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Burgundy, France. He then further honed his skills working in Alsace with Domaine Ostertag.

When he returned to the U.S., he produced wine for Elk Cove Vineyards, Eola Hills, Hinman/Sylvan Ridge, Paschal Winery and Willamette Valley Vineyards before launching Wine by Joe LLC, a custom winemaking company, in 2002. He started out crafting wines for 20 clients, producing Dobbes Family Estate, a luxury label dedicated to Willamette Valley pinot noir, Rogue Valley Syrah and Grenache Blanc; and Wine by Joe, a value-priced Oregon appellation label. In 2005, he added Jovino, producing pinot noir and pinot gris exclusively for restaurant use.

Joe explained that the grapes used for his wines come from a variety of vineyards in the Willamette and Rogue valleys, including Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountain, Eola-Amity and McMinnville appellations, a term describing the location where the grapes were grown. He says the fruit is carefully selected from vineyards with differing elevations, soil types and grape clones. Dobbes’ single-vineyard wines are an expression of each vineyard’s unique terrior (how climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of wine), while cuvees (a French term meaning vat or casks) are blends that showcase the art of blending while staying true to vintage and varietal character.

While we visited the lab, I spied Joe’s notebook, where he handwrites information about the blends he is creating. He didn’t have to worry that I would decipher the code and walk away with his award-winning secret recipes, though; it was far too complex for me.

But what I did bring away was a deeper appreciation of the science and art involved in producing exceptional wines, and a belief that Joe’s talents shine through in every bottle he produces.

During Barb Randall's tour of Dobbes winemaking facilities, she watched as Wine by Joe was bottled.

As luck would have it, the crew was bottling Wine by Joe the day I visited, so I got to watch that process.

The Dobbes Family Estate Wine portfolio includes Cuvee Pinot Noir, including Grand Assemblage, Amelia Rose Cuvee, Griffin’s Cuvee and Patricia’s Cuvee (named for Joe’s daughter, son and wife); Single-Vineyard Pinot Noirs from Quailhurst Vineyard, Meyer Vineyard, Symonette Vineyard and Momtazi Vineyard; Syrahs, including Grand Assemblage, Fortmiller Vineyard and Port; and Whites including Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Chardonnay and Late Harvest Viognier.

Wines by Joe include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc.

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Molly Bailey

Meet the Maker. I'm Molly, and I'm a Maker. I like to make things and make things happen. I live in Oregon wine country south of Portland, with my husband, dog and cat. I am a graduate of George Fox University with a degree in Business Communication. My work and personal experience at a number of great organizations (Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon's sports commission, Red Bull North America to name a few) has prepared me for bigger and better projects. Working with a small group of clients allows me to provide them top-notch service. I get excited to be a part of events, marketing projects, films, and other passionate endeavors. Let's keep stoking the fire of creativity. If we haven't met, let's get coffee or an IPA! Among the doers, the thinkers and the dreamers are the makers…