The 2021 Willamette Valley Riesling shows lovely tropical and bright citrus notes on the nose, including fresh Meyer Lemon and white peach. The palate brings mouthwatering acidity and a nice pop of citrus on the back of the palate. A classic Riesling vintage with standout fruit, nice savory spices, and a mineral-laden finish.
Firesteed Cellars was founded in 1992 by industry veteran Howard Rossbach. Firesteed opened its official winery and tasting room off the beaten path in Rickreall, Oregon in 2002, where production remains to this day. In 2006, Firesteed established its estate vineyard, Erratic Oaks, which is certified Salmon Safe.
Since its founding, the mission of Firesteed has been to create wines that represent the finest expression of varietals suited to the distinctive growing regions in Oregon, most notably Pinot Noir.
In addition to Pinot Noir, Firesteed is highly regarded for its Pinot Gris and Riesling and has recently released its first-ever series of AVA-specific Pinot Noirs from Dundee Hills and Yamhill Carlton, as well as a vineyard designate Pinot Noir from its estate vineyard, Erratic Oaks. Firesteed also produces a repertoire of limited-production wines including a Rosé of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of Pinot Noir's most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a continental climate moderated by the influence of the Pacific Ocean, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture and the production of elegant wines.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation vineyard sites.
The valley's three prominent soil types (volcanic, sedimentary and silty, loess) make it unique and create significant differences in wine styles among its vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based, Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. In the most southern stretch of the Willamette, the Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA soils are mixed, shallow and well-drained. The Hills' close proximity to the Van Duzer Corridor (which became its own appellation as of 2019) also creates grapes with great concentration and firm acidity, leading to wines that perfectly express both power and grace.
Though Pinot noir enjoys the limelight here, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay also thrive in the Willamette. Increasing curiosity has risen recently in the potential of others like Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc and Gamay.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.