Sometimes more than the food in a restaurant, I’ll recall later the interesting mix of modern and old, the trompe l’oeule, the creation of elegance done with nothing more than well-placed chandeliers and linens. So, when I snagged a spot on an excursion to a new Oregon invitation-only vineyard, Native Flora, I went with eyes open and at the ready to drink in a brand new ambience, not to mention a sip or two of high-end wine.
Surprisingly, what I found at the winery was a deep sense of serenity and ease.
This new winery sits on a hill overlooking the Chehalem Valley – wine country as far as you can see – above the little wine country town of Dundee, Oregon. And since this is Oregon, the hills are green, patched with small squares of farms, and larger geometrics of vineyards, dotted with homes and the mansions that are the norm in wine-tasing worlds. In the distance, off to the right as you peer down into the valley is Mt Hood.
It was the view that sold the acreage to owner Scott Flora back when he first stepped foot on it. He’s a personable guy with the air of someone accustomed to being liked. And no doubt he is. Heck, I liked him immediately and warmed up to his stories and passion for this new venture. I liked him even better when I met his wife and busines partner, Denise. You can’t judge a guy by whom he marries, or, maybe you can. Be that as it may, Denise is smart, friendly, and a woman you could sit down and share stories about the world with, possibly over a glass of wine.
As he tells it, Scott knew this was the spot – the best spot – for his vineyard. He has the sort of vision that makes a person able to imagine a building constructed of metal combined with the softening effects of fir slats, a mash of hard sides and organic ceilings, a combination of colors that both blended and showcased, and vineyards supported by geothermal energy, and recaptured, percolated water.
The final result is elegance, the kind that makes you feel rich and at ease in the world. I don’t pretend to be able to explain how he and Denise achieved the ambience. I can tell you, though, that the public area in the vineyard home invites you in – and it is a home as they both live there and hold invitation-only tastings and events there. When you walk in you arrive in a bright room with vaulted ceiling, a stone floor to ceiling fireplace, stone floor tiles, rich wood tones and across the expansive room, a wall full of windows overlooking that magnificent valley.
The Floras are not the only ones moving into Oregon’s valleys these days. Jackson Family Wines of Kendall Jackson wine fame, made headlines around the state just this past year. when they purchased 392 acres, a combination of acreage of Zena East, Zena Middle and Maple Grove, Willamette Valley growers. And by the time you read this, there will be more. The Conestoga wagons are coming.
We’re becoming a player in wine-producing, at the “Bottlshock” point (Google the movie if you haven’t seen it; watch it if you love wine.)
But back to the winery at hand — wangle an invitation if you can, call for an appointment, a thing I know you can do, and plan to spend a while. You’ll find them at nativeflora.com.
Oh, and the wine? I tasted a pinot noir. Elegant.