Today, we raise a glass to celebrate the birthdate of one of our most highly prized grape varietals: Riesling. That’s right. March 13 is the first documented date of the grape’s existence, noted in a cellar log found in Germany’s small, Hessische Bergstrasse wine region, southeast of Rheingau.
Our love affair with Riesling started in 1983 at what was then Veritas Vineyard & Winery, now known as Corral Creek Vineyard, which is home to our winery. Drs. Diane and John Howieson planted the vines along the contours of the land rather than strictly oriented in a particular orientation to the sun because financing was not available for wineries and vineyards at the time. The Oregon wine industry was deemed too speculative by lending institutions. GPS is typically used to plot modern vineyards to ensure the precise positioning of each row and vine. But the old-school, hand-planted approach to Corral Creek is what makes the site and our Riesling so unique. The couple simply paced off the distance between vines and adjusted spacing between rows according to the contour of the land. Our labels dawn a stylized aerial view of Corral Creek, showing the fascinating mix of directions and iconic wavy rows.
To further add to Corral Creek’s quirkiness, our Pinot Noir vines were bought back from France as budwood (sticks) and propagated on their own roots. The source of the Riesling vines, however, remains something of a mystery. Our working assumption is they are UC Davis Clone 12, also known as the Neustadt 90 clone from Germany. And, while you might be thinking, “what about chardonnay?” Back in the early days of the Oregon wine industry, after Pinot Noir, Riesling was a much more common choice to plant, though unfortunately, when we purchased Corral Creek Vineyard in 1995, few producers took it seriously. Since then, we have dedicated a place in our portfolio to showcase Riesling in all its beauty.
The Corral Creek Vineyard produces outstanding Riesling in a dry to slightly off-dry style, with subtle but distinct flinty or petrol aromas and terrific length in the finish, making it a wonderfully versatile food-friendly wine. We love to enjoy it with traditional Germanic foods, milder Asian cuisines, and lighter seafood. It’s also a favorite for many fall and winter holiday gatherings. In a category that is seldom viewed as wine intended for aging, Corral Creek Riesling has the potential to improve wonderfully for several years from the vintage date.
With just a few hundred cases produced each year, Riesling is a small part of our wine program, but it is an endlessly intriguing wine that is a joy for our winemaking team to craft and one we take great pride in sharing. If you have never had the pleasure, we encourage you to experience this truly noble wine.
Food & Wine Pairing
Thai cuisine is all about harmony, and an off-dry Riesling is the perfect pairing to cut through spice and heat!
Family recipe courtesy of Victor Panichkul, Director of Hospitality at our sister winery, Stoller Family Estate.