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Oregon Wines Explained With Joe Dobbes

Oregon Wines Are Simply Amazing

Lake Oswego Review
June 25, 2015
by Barb Randall

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.

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