In 1998, Carl and Marilynn Thoma helped open up a new frontier of Oregon’s Willamette Valley when they chose a wild, beautiful, out of the way place, where the winds blew just right.
Perched upon a windy knoll 2 miles down a dirt road in Dallas, Oregon (no not Texas … this is Oregon) about an hour away from just about anywhere, you’ll find Van Duzer Vineyards. Here, 82 acres of vines lie in the direct path of cooling marine winds that rush through a deep gap in the Coast Range—its namesake Van Duzer Corridor.
While a few vines had been planted in the wind-blown region previously, the site was anything but a sure thing. But caution has never been a prerequisite for the wine business, and there was something about that persistent breeze off the pacific that convinced the Thoma’s that this was a risk worth taking. For them, the opportunity to uncover something new and special in an unproven wine region was what brought them to Oregon in the first place.
Their instinct told them that extraordinary wines could be produced in these challenging conditions, and that climate was going to be the most important thing affecting the style of wines.
It was the first of many Aha! moments where the road less travelled and the relentless pursuit to create something great came together at the right time and place. Over the last 25 years, their intuition and risk-taking has paid off, producing world-class wines that are nuanced and expertly balanced with lightness and intensity.