Since 2019, Gary and I have worked with some fantastic wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Lodi, California, and Willamette Valley in Oregon. We host tastings and do what we can to promote small direct-to-consumer wineries. This past year, we learned that two of our favorites have or are closing, and we want to say goodbye.
So, we wish these two wineries a fond farewell:
Methven Family Vineyards
I met Laura Lee, the then-general manager of Methven Family Vineyards, in 2019 at the Gamay seminar for the Willamette Valley Wine Writer’s Education Tour. We immediately bonded over their Rosé of Gamay Noir. She promised that when I asked her to come to Charleston, she would, as long as I filled the room with tasters. She came in March of 2020, and we filled the room for her twice in a single day. Lots of wine was ordered that day, and Methven picked up several new club members. This was a great beginning to a great partnership.
Sadly, on March 14, 2022, Dr. Alan Methven passed away after fighting cancer for two and a half years. It took a year to sell off the wine inventory and library. I received the final notification of the business closing in May this year.
Some of my favorite wines from Methven include their Rosé of Gamay Noir and their ‘La Fleur’ White Pinot Noir. I still have some of their flagship Pinot Noirs that I will treasure with every sip.
The family chose to sell the estate to the Drouhin Family of Burgundy, who also own and operate Domaine Drouhin Oregon. I have no idea what the Drouhin family envisions for this estate, but I will follow closely and be sure to visit the next time I am in Oregon.
We met the dynamic duo Bill & Betsy Nachbaur of ACORN Winery in May of 2021; we fell hard for them as new friends and for their fantastic wines. Their vineyards are like no other. While the majority of the vines are fairly common varieties – Syrah, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Alvarinho (Albariño), Dolcetto, and Cabernet Franc – The rows of these vines are intermixed with hundreds of lesser-known and rarely seen varieties, including some table grapes.
The result is extraordinary field blends that resemble wines from days gone by. Each vintage is a wine unto itself, and that makes my wine geek flag soar. We suitcased a case of several of their wines after the Sonoma trip in 2021. So when they announced they were shutting down the winery, we bought some of our favorites and shipped them to a friend in North Carolina. (SC makes life impossible and expensive for the “little guy” to ship directly.)
Our Favorite wine is Medley® Alegría Vineyards. The 2019 is the last vintage. Just read these winemaker notes…
“This is our 20th and last vintage of Medley. Like a musical medley (an arrangement of interwoven melodies), each vintage of ACORN Medley is a unique composition. It includes more than 60 grape varieties, reflecting the extraordinary diversity of our Alegría Vineyards. Starting in 2000, creating this “blend of field blends” has been our priority. At its base is an unusual field blend of Syrah and our most aromatic varieties, including Cinsaut, a dozen different black and white muscats, Blue Portuguese, Liatiko, and various table grapes. We fermented with native yeasts, a Portuguese yeast, and a Rhone yeast. After fermentation, we supplemented the base blend with three barrels of our Heritage Vines Zinfandel field blend. The wine aged for 19 months in barrel and an additional 20 months in bottle before release.”
Here is a more detailed list of the blend: 20% Syrah, 20% Zinfandel, 18% Cinsaut, 8% Dolcetto, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Sangiovese, plus a dozen different black and white muscats, Viognier, and other varieties.
In hindsight, the decision was already made to shut down Acorn after the release of the 2022 vintage whites and rosato and upon the release of the 2019 reds. It explains why I could not convince them to ship to SC. But, If I knew then what I know now.
Betsy told me the winery is the only business shutting down. They still own and will work their Alegria Vineyards and sell the grapes to wineries in search of their fruit. Once the ACORN wines are gone, I hope to learn who buys their fruit to see if others can make similar magic in their wines.
To the Methven Family, we are sorry for your loss.
To Bill & Betsy, enjoy your newfound free time, and we hope to see you again.