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April 29, 2011
Belle Vallée Winery, A Beautiful Valley
We love to see a winery dedicated to representing the terroir. Belle Vallée is such a place. Located in urban Corvallis, these folks are dedicated to creating Oregon's best wines in the cool climate of Willamette Valley, allowing the fruit to truly shine.

The founders, Steve Allen and Mike Magee, were both born and raised in Oregon with a desire  to
continue Oregon's wine-growing legacy. The name Belle Vallée came from Mike's wife Claire, who is of French heritage, which can only be a good thing when producing Burgundian varietals. Over sixty percent of the wine here is the Pinot Noir of northern Oregon fame. Mike is the General Manager and oversees the daily operations at the winery and Claire manages the finance and compliance areas.

Being an urban winery in the Willamette AVA has served them well. Using a solid strategy of long- term relationships for acquiring fruit, Belle Vallée pulls from eighteen highly-acclaimed sources within Oregon, many in the Willamette Valley AVA and a few in the Rogue Valley AVA for some of the other varietals. This clearly gives them the flexibility to select  only  that  fruit  they
believe to represent the best of what Oregon wine can offer. The 18,000 square foot winemaking facility is specifically designed to best support the production of high-end Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Using only French oak barrels with 60% to 100% of them being new every year, which lends itself to wonderful oak-related notes. Equally exciting is the fact that the premium offerings are unfined and unfiltered, further allowing the fruit to shine as fruit handling is minimalistic.

When a winery like this produces great wine, I always look to the winemaker. Joe Wright came to Belle Vallée some ten years ago, likely lured by the great outdoors Oregon has to offer. Prior to Belle Vallée, Joe could be found receiving his tutelage from none other than Joe Dobbes at Willamette Valley Vineyards.

Jeff Weiss manages the tasting room operations. He is also responsible for sales and marketing for both regional and national sales. But as with any winery, Jeff chips in wherever he may be needed as it is always the team effort that is ultimately responsible for the end product.

When we went through their wines, we found Pinots, both Noir and Gris, of outstanding quality and balance. Fruit that shone, acid in balance and an overall wonderful experience. If you're looking to see what the big deal is about Oregon Pinot, look no further than Belle Vallée.


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