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Mary Orlin

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The Evolution of Sokol Blosser Wines

Posted: 10/25/2012 2:40 pm

Alison Sokol Blosser is in Portland, Oregon at the Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) instead of being on her honeymoon. She just got married on the August weekend before the start of the conference at her family's winery in Oregon's Dundee Hills AVA (American Vitacultural Area), which is about an hour outside of Portland. As the winery's co-president along with her brother Alex, she's at WBC to pour for nearly 400 bloggers during an activity called live blogging, which is more like speed dating. Then she's hosting a bus-load of bloggers from the conference at Sokol Blosser Winery for a dinner with several other local wineries pouring. With all that going on and with harvest underway, Alison says she'll go on her honeymoon after the fall craziness is done.

The winery was founded in 1971 by Alison's parents, Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser. The winery led the way in caring for the environment by employing green and sustainable practices -- organically farming their grapes and becoming the first winery in the U.S. to receive LEED certification, which they were awarded for their underground barrel cellar. The Sokol Blosser motto: Be good to the earth.

Sokol Blosser is known for balanced pinot noirs with a sense of place, as the grapes all come from the winery's estate vineyards. The wines are best described as having soft tannins. Sokol Blosser is also known for a white wine blend called Evolution, a wildly popular wine. Made from nine white varietals, this wine doesn't carry a vintage. Each year is a new "edition" of the wine, as the percentages of each variety depends on the vintage. Right now Evolution is in its 16th edition. Evolution is a fun wine, with pithy statements on the label, such as the instructions to "Chill. Pour. Sip. Chill. Think about how you might evolve." The wine is aromatic with white flowers, stone fruit, tropical fruits and a rich body.

When I last saw Alison in January 2012, she was in San Francisco to promote her winery's newest release, Evolution Red and she had also just gotten engaged. The label on this first edition reads "It's about time." Alison says they've had so many requests (or demands as noted on the label) to make a red wine like Evolution. She says it only took them about 13 years. Now Evolution Red is in its second edition. But the winery is not revealing any information on the varietals in the blend other than that it is syrah-based, with the explanation that sometimes it's better for something to remain a mystery. White and red Evolution wines are $15 each.



On the heels of Evolution Red, Sokol Blosser has even bigger plans. Alison says they're working on a sparkling Evolution White. "It will be based on Evolution White so it's nine varietals," she says.  The inspiration comes from a rather unconventional source. "You know those soda streamers?" she asks. It's popular with her staff for carbonating water. Then they started putting Evolution in the soda streams. "They were like, 'you have to try this' it's really good," she says. "So that was the idea of 'Huh, could we do this on a bigger scale and rather than carbonate it with CO2, what would it be like made in the methode traditionelle used in Champagne?"

If that isn't enough, Sokol Blosser is also building a new tasting room. They broke ground on September 10 and plan to open it in the summer of 2013. The building will be unique for two reasons. First, the design is being done so that it appears that the tasting room building itself is coming out of the ground. Alison says "there will be terraced wall and then the structure would be virtually all wood paneling inside and out with a green roof. So literally it's stone, wood and green like it grew up out of the earth."

Another unique aspect of Sokol Blosser is that they are going for a new certification called the Living Building Challenge. Alison says it's a fairly new certification, which "looks at the materials," and the scope of the project and is much more rigorous and comprehensive than LEED certification. "There's a red list of materials you cannot use anywhere in the building." She believes Sokol Blosser will be the first U.S. winery to get this certification. It's another way the winery stays at the forefront of sustainability and being good to the earth.

For now, the focus is on the 2012 harvest, which started at Sokol Blosser on September 29 and is winding down this month.  Then maybe Alison can take a break and head off on her honeymoon.

 

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