Friday, May 10, 2019

Biodynamic Wines of the Willamette Valley with King Estate

The Wine Pairing Weekend group I’m a part of that features monthly themes focused on Williamette Valley wines from Oregon this month and reminded me why I fell in love with Oregon pinot noir a long time back.  When I first learning about wines Oregon pinot noir was always my favorite.  

There was just something about the light to medium body of the wine, but the depth of flavors that it appealed to me so much.  I’ve never been a huge fan of big, bold, jammy wines so it’s no surprise that these wines appealed to me.  Prior to wine my only other knowledge of Oregon was the Oregon Trail computer game I played back in grade school if that didn't just date my back some. 

The Land 
The Willamette Valley of Oregon is located in the Pacific Northwest and the valley runs from Portland in the north to Eugene in the southern part of the valley.  It’s surrounded by 3 mountain chains including the Cascade Range, the Oregon Coast Range and Calapooya Mountains.  The climate there is continental.  
Willamette Valley wine AVA's
Willamette Valley AVA's copyright of Willamette Valley Wineries Association
The Williamette Valley of Oregon is home to pinot noir and it’s obvious when you go to Williamette Valley Wineries Association website and it’s boldly says “We are pinot noir”.  Over 15,000 acres are planted to pinot noir with the 2nd largest planted grape is pinot gris at almost 4,000 acres.   Being known for world class pinot noir they must be doing something right since the first planted vines of pinot noir were back in only 1965 by David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards.  The Williamette Valley dominates wine production for oregon state producing an overall 71% percent of its total production with the Willamette Valley making 82% of the states pinot noir.
wine grapes of willamette valley oregon
Copyright of Willamette Valley Wineries Association
The Winery 
I sampled some wines from King estate located at the bottom tip of the valley in Eugene.  The winery has been family owned since 1991.  With a total production of 350,000 bottles all their grapes are hand picked with over 1,000 acres Demeter certified biodynamic.  I can truly appreciate a winery that goes to lengths to take measures in properly taking care of its land and environment.  The winery takes part in many practices including:            
  • No use of chemicals 
  • Use of raptors such as owls and serves as a rehabilitation centre for them  
  • Specific plant species utilized to attract insects 
  • Solar panels to reduce their carbon dioxide footprint  
  • Over 1,000 tons of compost annually used for fertilization
    King Estate Winery in Eugene, Oregon
    Copyright of King Estate Winery
    King Estate Winery of Willamette Valley
    Vines and lavender fields @ King Estate ~ Copyright of King Estate Winery
King Estate Winery wines of OregonThe Wines 
2017 King Estate Pinot Gris Steiner Block 
Named after Rudolf Steiner who founded the biodynamic approach to agriculture.  They claim to be the largest producer of pinot gris domestically.  This wine was aged in a concrete egg.   A pale straw color with a tinge of green, almost clear in the glass.  A beautiful, aromatic nose of green apple and citrus.  A lighter body that was crisp, clean with citrus shining on the palate combined with some minerality.  ABV 13% SRP $28 

Pairing:  I paired this wine with a garlic butter marinade with a pork tenderloin served with a simple side salad.  I had bigger aspirations on this pairing to add a side of crab cakes, but I was balancing a work call while my almost 3 year old was emptying the fish food into the tank.  Mamma mia!  The wine was a wonderful match with the pork and the simplicity of the marinade allowed the citrus and minerality of the wine to shine. 
2017 King Estate Pinot Gris wine pairing
2016 King Estate Pinot Noir Highwire 
Deep ruby in color with almost a purplish tinge.  Medium-bodied with ripe, juicy strawberries and raspberries on the nose.  A wine well balanced with finesse and a rich, ripe fruit finish.  ABV 14.1% SRP $68 

Pairing: I paired this wine with a teriyaki marinated petit beef filet served with some sauteed mushrooms.  Pinot noir is such a classic pairing with mushrooms and even with the hefty beef filet the pinot noir held its own.  
2016 King Estate Highwire Pinot Noir wine pairing
Here are plenty more wine and food pairings with Willamette Valley wines with our talented group of wine and food bloggers.  Join us live on Twitter this Saturday May 11th at 11am EST with the #winepw as we discuss the behind the scenes of our recipe pairings and share thoughts on these amazing wines.

*Wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.  Information sourced from King Estate Winery and the Willamette Valley Wine Association.


  1. What a great exploration, Jen. Thanks for sharing about the King Estate. That's a new one for me. I'll keep an eyeout. Cheers!

  2. I was very pleased with the King Estate wines too. Your pairings look lovely.

  3. Great intro of the Willamette Valley AVAs - really set the backdrop of where all these quality grapes are grown and how the terroir affects the wines. The top five things King Estate does for biodynamics are very clear about their commitment to the land. The pairings (Pinot Gris with pork loin and Pinot Noir with beef filet) are spot-on. Great post!

  4. Sounds like some great pairings! The crab cakes sound good too, maybe grab another bottle to try that one!

  5. I love how the region has put it upon themselves to be environmentally friendly and you really can't ask for better wines! Love their Pinot, and have now fallen in love with their Pinot Gris!

  6. Two great wines, two delicious pairings! I've had a few King Estate wines, but not those you featured in your post. Going to see if I can track them down here in Miami.

  7. I also paired with a King Estate wine and can't wait to visit it! Their commitment to organic and now biodynamic is impressive. Love the idea of beef and mushrooms as a pairing with this!

  8. As a fan of Pinot Noir, I need to get to Oregon and explore some of these wineries! Great information on the Willamette Valley and nice pairings.

  9. I've never visited King Estate, but I've had their wines! Loved them...and the looks and sound of your two pairings! I hope the fish are OK!

  10. Both of these pairings look absolutely wonderful! Yum!

  11. It's nice to know of wineries like King Estates when we hear that organic and biodynamic practices can't scale up. Not true!