Apparently, John Grochau, owner and winemaker at Grochau Cellars, and I have something in common. His first introduction to wine was in his early 20s in the Loire Valley… mine was, too, when as a college student spending the summer in France, I fell in love with the exceptional wines of this mesmerizing region. But that’s where our experiences diverge. John Grochau spent several years racing for a French team in the Loire Valley. He was fortunate to have the opportunity to use his cycling skills to race through Champagne, Burgundy, and the entirety of the Loire Valley winemaking regions. I simply returned to school in the United States.
Upon his return from France to his roots in Portland, Oregon, Grochau began a stint in the restaurant business. There, he developed a true appreciation for wine as he sharpened his skills regarding wine and food pairings. More than a decade later, he entered the world of winemaking. After a year in Sonoma, Grochau worked at Oregon’s Erath Winery followed by a position at Brick House Vineyards where he worked with winemaker Doug Tunnel.
The year 2002 marks his first vintage as owner and winemaker at his namesake winery, Grochau Cellars, located in Amity, Oregon. For that, winelovers should be grateful!
Thanks to his broad experience in all things food and wine, it’s natural to expect that John Grochau is crafting wines that make every meal taste even better! My expectations were not only met, but exceeded with three wines I was sent as samples. Not only were each delicious with an array of foods, they were equally impressive on their own.
Grochau strives to make wines that are balanced, textured and expressive of place. Inspired by the diversity of the Willamette Valley’s soils and microclimates, Grochau sources fruit from organic and sustainably-farmed vineyards. Grapes are hand-harvested and wines undergo a slow, natural fermentation. Working with grape varieties with a legacy in the Willamette Valley – namely Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc – Grochau also seeks to showcase the potential of emerging varieties like Melon de Bourgogne and Gamay. Grochau Cellars
Grochau Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016 ($18) – What’s not to love about a refreshing rosé from Oregon? Grochau has crafted a wine that exudes aromas of fresh-picked strawberries and raspberries, a bouquet of roses, hint of sweet spice, and just a dab of minerality. Lively acidity and flavors of juicy red berries led to a long zesty finish. Grapes were hand harvested early so that sugar levels would be low and acidity would be bright. They were fermented and aged for 8 months in neutral oak barrels. I need another glass of this rosé now!
Grochau Commuter Cuvée Pinot Noir 2016 ($20) – Lovely in the glass, aromas of red cherries, raspberries, sweet spice, and nutmeg were fresh and pure, a characteristic of many Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs that I’ve come to appreciate. On the palate, intense notes of spice, earth, and juicy red berries were surrounded by bright acidity and gentle tannic structure. The pleasant finish was everything I had hoped… This wine was a blend from several vineyards in the Willamette Valley. 90% of the wine was aged in used French oak barrels while the remaining 10% went into in stainless steel tanks. Before bottling, the Pinot Noir was aged for 9 months.
Cheers to the wines of Grochau Cellars! ~ Cindy