ROCO Gravel Road Chardonnay 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
ROCO represents the finest in Oregon winemaking with storied bottles and humbling accolades. It’s a 30-year history of devotion to craft. In 1987, Rollin Soles purchased a breathtaking hillside property down a gravel road in the Chehalem Mountain Range. The property’s perfect combination of elevation, soil type, natural springs, and geological aspect were the seed of a dream that would eventually become ROCO Winery.
ROCO (Named for ROllin and COrby Soles) For nearly fifteen years, the Soles’ property remained a mostly wild landscape used for a variety of farming endeavors. Rollin was making wine at Argyle, his previous venture, and Corby was busy serving in a number of executive positions in the Oregon wine industry. But as the years wore on, the property’s southwestern exposure and diverse soils begged for the Soles to realize their dream: a vineyard of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sloping toward the creek below, the Chehalem Valley beyond, and Oregon’s Coast Range in the distance.
In 2001, Rollin and Corby planted Wits’ End Vineyard and began bringing the idea of ROCO to fruition. Two years later, they produced their first vintage of Private Stash Pinot Noir—showcasing the very best of Rollin’s small-lot winemaking skills in a bottle that was eventually served in the White House. Building on their success, in 2009, the Soles built ROCO its own winery and added a tasting room in 2012. In 2013, Rollin expanded Wits’ End Vineyard and transitioned to full-time focus on ROCO to keep pace with its growing prestige and demand. Today, Wits’ End Vineyard remains the heart and soul of ROCO wines. ROCO Private Stash and Wits’ End Vineyard Pinot Noirs derive exclusively from these vines—and serve as Rollin and Corby’s testament to the beauty of place, their devotion to family and friends, and their commitment to Oregon winemaking at its finest.
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.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.