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Oregon Winemaker

Patrick Reuter in his Oregon vineyard
Photo caption
Oregon winemaker Patrick Reuter savors vineyard soil.

If anyone qualifies as an independent winemaker, it's 38-year-old Patrick Reuter, owner of Dominio IV winery in Carlton, Ore. He's reaching beyond the standard Oregon pinot noir and pursuing biodynamic farming, which eschews pesticides. Reuter is one of 40 vintners who will present their wares at the Portland Indie Wine Festival, May 2 to 4.

Q What makes a winery an indie?
A I'm Dominio's only full-time employee.
I plant the grapes and harvest, ferment, and age them—with help from my wife and in-laws. Many wineries in Oregon are considered indie and produce fewer than 2,000 cases a year. And if you tour the wineries in the Willamette Valley, you can talk to the winemaker and connect with the craftsmanship.

Q What is it about French pinot noir that has inspired Oregon vintners?
A In Burgundy they've spent centuries figuring out the qualities of each little patch of land.

Q Can you do that in Oregon?
A We're on our way. In Mosier, in the Columbia Gorge, I look at the soil. I can taste black, dark density in the grapes. There are tones of anise and licorice and black pepper.

Q You make pinot noir and syrah but your true love is . . .
A Tempranillo, an obscure grape found mostly in northeastern Spain. It's very earthy and it has real longevity.

Q Where can people taste your wines?
A Portland restaurants such as Park Kitchen, 503, and Noble Rot wine bar. Also, the Oregon Wines shop often has our bottles open

Photography by Andrea Johnson

This article was first published in May 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.