Shortly after we moved to Oregon I tasted through a line up of Grochau Cellars wines. Mostly Pinot noir, ‘good, good, wait go back. That one.’ Tell me about that Pinot noir. “Oh, ” replied John Grochau,” that one is from Bjornson Vineyard fruit.”
I decided then and there to follow that fruit. Just like the best sauce is made with the best tomatoes, grape quality and terroir make a difference to the wine. I found Bjornson Vineyard in a beautiful Eola-Amity Hill site adjacent to Seven Springs in Willamette Valley. Fruit is sold to 10 wineries including the Bjornson Vineyard label.
If that were the end of the story, I would recommend the wines and move on. I recommend good wines every day.
Then I got to know Mark and Pattie Bjornson, owners, vineyard managers, winemakers, and all around wonderful people. I interviewed them for an article in Oregon Wine Press. Please read it so you can know more about this family.
The interview was on Easter Sunday 2014. I was an idiot and asked to come before I looked at the holiday calendar. When I offered to reschedule they responded it was a perfect date because I could meet the family. So Mark and I sat down to the Bjornson Easter meal with Mark, Pattie and their four children. We talked about what Claire would do after college, what hobbies interested the kids, what it was like to run a family vineyard. For two people literally thousands of miles from the closest relative, we felt so fortunate to break bread with the Bjornsons. We even got a slice of their “famous in the family” lemon meringue pie.
We learned that part of the reason the wines were so good was how personal they were. They cleared the land – the kids moving rocks by the ton with “minimal” complaining. Mark planted the vines by the North Star. Pattie learned to make wine and fusses over the process like the self proclaimed “triple type A” personality that she is. They represent their own work ethic and love for winemaking and they honor their family and ancestors.
We “met” Edward that Easter. Edward was Pattie’s firefighting GrandPa. When a few barrels of a vintage develop into a broad, brooding and strong Pinot it is called Edward. Isabelle is named for Mark’s Grandmother. Isabelle was a school teacher who lobbied herself into the role of superintendent and put her kids through college with proceeds from her Depression Era vegetable garden. Like Isabelle, this Pinot noir is lush and soft, but can stand on its own two feet. Soon we will meet Art – Isabelle’s husband and learn what he has to offer.
We could not be more proud of the Bjornson’s and what they have accomplished. They have built a winery on their site and Pattie has taken over winemaking for the Bjornson label. She is hitting it out of the park.
Mark and Pattie studied vineyard management and grape growing at Chemeketa’s Wine Studies Program. I attended an awards ceremony and they began to describe the recipient before revealing the name. I heard things like exemplery student, leader in the community, tireless volunteer. Looking over my shoulder to Pattie I mouthed, “you?” Yes, Pattie received the award for Emerging Leader for her role in the Oregon winemaking community – a greatly deserved recognition.
I was accidentally sitting next to her parents who have recently moved to Oregon. When they learned we were orphans, they invited us for Christmas. The grape doesn’t fall far from the vine. For more information and to “follow that Bjornson fruit” visit Bjornson Vineyard.