Growing up in Oregon, farms of strawberries and prunes surrounded David Nemarnik. Food and wine were always an interconnected part of the meal. “Childhood trips to visit relatives in Italy and Croatia made an impression on me. The wine and food came from the cellar, produced from their land,” reminisces Nemarnik, remembering drinking water mixed with Famiglia Cribari Vino Rosso at dinner.
“I started making wine in my townhome garage thirty years ago as a hobby,” said Nemarnik. He did this as he managed his family’s successful produce business in Portland, but his passion for wine and his connection with land sparked a search for a property he could call his own. During one of his long bike rides in the Chehalem Mountains in the Willamette Valley, he found an ideal spot that was a combination of Laurelwood soil, optimal elevation, and great sun exposure both east and west—perfect for growing vines that would result in complex wines. In 1999, Nemarnik established Alloro Vineyard where he could maintain the family’s time-honored food and wine traditions.
By cultivating hay for the livestock, fertilizing crops with manure, mowing cover crops with sheep, and utilizing the farm’s bounty, the estate was the perfect ecosystem for promoting native biodiversity and sustainable farming operations while embracing modern-day agricultural methods. The farm is officially certified by L.I.V.E. and Salmon-Safe. To celebrate this, Alloro produces a whole-farm feast in the fall, where 90 percent of the ingredients are sourced directly from the estate.
“The whole farm concept of Alloro embraces my fundamental interests in sustainably growing things in an integrated way, and my interest in food,” said Nemarnik. “We grew a beautiful crop of oat hay this year that will nourish our herd of heirloom sheep and cattle. We grow an extensive vegetable garden, numerous fruit trees, chestnuts, and hazelnuts. We also create our compost by using waste products from the farm to add nutrients to our fields.”
In 2010, Tom Fitzpatrick joined Alloro Vineyard as winemaker bringing experience from Burgundy, New Zealand, and Napa. His experience in Burgundy and the world-class Pinot Noirs in the Willamette Valley inspired him to relocate to Oregon in 2007, seeing the similar potential for great Pinot Noir.
“I love the profile of Pinot Noir—the silky and velvety texture, the expressiveness of aroma and flavor—it has finesse, grace, and elegance,” said Fitzpatrick. “Terroir is truly alive with Pinot Noir and clear to all that are willing to listen.”
Fitzpatrick’s goal is to capture the unique personality of a site as it reveals itself in a particular vintage. He aims to display the purity of fruit, textural focus, and expressive aromatics that reflect each site. Since he took over winemaking duties, Alloro has received numerous awards and commendations. Fitzpatrick and his wife also own a farm and live on a vineyard where they make their own wine under the label Élevée Winegrowers Wines.
As they struggle with the pandemic—the biggest operating challenge to date, Alloro will continue to focus on sustainable farming as the centerpiece of their operation. Nemarnik says, “As our industry has grown and matured, with larger players involved, the feel is still distinctly Oregon.”
2017 Estate Pinot Noir
The vineyards for this wine grow between 450 and 600 feet in elevation. This wine displays an earthy ruby-red color with flavors of cinnamon, black cherry, and cola. This wine pairs nicely with sausage, peppers and onions. Drink it now or hold.
2018 Estate Chardonnay
This wine has tropical fruit aromatics and flavors of lemon, pear, and apple. It’s clean and crisp with bright fruit flavors and maintains a cool-climate acidity. At 13.9 percent abv, this wine pairs well with Dungeness crab cakes.
This wine is translucent gold in color with citrus flavors and great minerality and acidity. Order some Indian or Thai food with this wine.