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You know what terroir is in wine, but have you experienced it? Winegrower Tom Fitzpatrick offers a study in terroir so you can taste it for yourself

PGM: BARB RANDALL  - Tom and France Fitzpatrick are the proprietors of Elevee Winegrowers. They share with consumers their study of Willamette Valley terroir, focusing on the unique flavors and textures of the valleys diverse appellations.

Terroir — you know what it is, but have you experienced it?

Terroir is a French term which simply put represents a sense of place. It describes the unique characteristics that influence wine made from grapes grown in a certain location including the climate, soils and terrain and farming practices. It is a concept French winemakers developed over the centuries by observing the differences in wine from different regions, vineyards and even sections of the same vineyard.

It is an amazing phenomenon to experience.

I recently met with Tom and France Fitzpatrick, owners of Elevee Winegrowers in Dundee. Tom prefers the title winegrower to winemaker as he believes wine is "equally shaped by one's growing and winemaking choices. Our primary focus is capturing purity of flavor, allowing each wine to express the unique personality of each site and distinct influence of vintage," he says.

A little background on Tom: He has a master's degree in viticulture and enology from UC Davis, then spent a year in Burgundy experiencing winemaking at Domaine Hubert Lignier in Morey Saint Denis.

The couple moved to New Zealand, where Tom worked with Hunter's Wines, then to Pine Ridge Winery in Napa Valley. They were drawn to Oregon by their love of the outdoors and their love of pinot noir.

"Our love of hiking, backpacking trips, rock climbing and mountaineering is what brought us to the West," Tom said. "There is an elevation theme to our life."

That's was the inspiration for the name Elevee; in French it means high. The couple arrived in the Willamette Valley in 2007, and Tom became the associate winemaker with Hamacher Wines and then winemaker and general manager at Alloro Vineyard.

When I met him several years ago at Alloro, Tom shared the impact of terroir with me, noting that he could use the same techniques and grape variety to make wine for Alloro and Elevee, with different results because of terrior.

"Terroir is a reference to the whole ecology of a vineyard and the 'flavor' this ecology promotes in the wines made from its fruit," Tom writes on the website eleveewines.com.

"A vineyard's ecology includes more elements than one could possibly describe, that come together in complex ways to create grapes with inimitable composition and wines with their own unique personality. Simply put, terroir is the 'flavor' of a place, at a moment in time, shaped by the hand of the people."

On their home vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA, and in carefully selected vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains AVA and Eola-Amity Hills AVA, they have planted Pommard and 777 clones.

Using the same farming and winemaking techniques Tom has produced three distinctly different wines which perfectly illustrate the terroir of the different appellations.

Tasting these wines (2016 Elevee Vineyard Pinot noir, 2016 Madrona Hill Vineyard Pinot noir and 2016 Bjornson Vineyard Pinot noir) side by side is an eye-opening education in terroir.

It really is something you should experience for yourself.

In addition to pinot noir Tom makes riesling, and he plans on building the same study in terroir with riesling. He also makes a delightful white Pinot noir (if you haven't sampled you ought to) plus a rose of the same grapes from the three AVAS.

Visit the website or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more.

This is salad season, friends, and I thought you might like a few recipes for unique salads to enjoy with your wine. You could in fact pack one of them in your cooler and take it with you when you visit Elevee to enjoy with your wine.

Some of the wines Elevee Winegrowers produces are from left Elevee Vineyard Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills AVA, Madrona Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir from Chehalem Mountains AVA, Bjornson Vineyard Pinot Noir from Eola-Amity Hills AVA, plus Three Martins Rose, Glencolmcille White Pinot Noir and Corral Creek Vineyard Riesling.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

White Bean and Peppadew Salad

Makes 6 servings

1 15-ounce can rinsed white beans

¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

6 peppadew peppers, chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and black pepper

Toss together beans, parsley, peppers, scallions, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper in a bowl. Serve.

Could it be any easier?

Recipe courtesy of CountryLiving.com

Grilled Chicken Mango Salad

with Mango Cilantro Dressing

Makes 4 servings

For the grilled chicken:

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless

½ cup mango cilantro dressing

For the salad:

5 cups lettuce, roughly chopped

2 cucumbers, diced

1 bell pepper, slice thin

1 ripe avocado, sliced or cubed

½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped

½ cup mango cilantro dressing

Mango Cilantro Salad Dressing

Yields 1 cup

1 cup diced ripe mango

½ cup packed cilantro

1 Thai red chili

3 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Add mango, cilantro, chili, garlic, vinegar and salt to food processor or use an immersion blender. Start blending and once the ingredients start breaking down slowly pour in olive oil, continue blending until the dressing emulsifies and becomes creamy.

For the chicken: Start by marinating the chicken in half a cup of the dressing. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Add olive oil to a grill pan and cook the chicken for 15 minutes, turning halfway. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

To assemble the salad add lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, cilantro and grilled chicken to a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss to combine. Serve immediately or the salad will get soggy.

Recipes courtesy of myfoodstory.com.

Barb Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She is the author of "Willamette Valley Wineries" and a member of the Society of Wine Educators. Contact her at 503-479-2374 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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