Left Coast Winery
Willamette Valley AVA
One of the most forward-thinking Willamette Valley wineries
The Willamette Valley is Oregon’s leading wine region with two thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards and over 300 wineries dotting its vast, varied, and visually breathtaking landscape. It is also recognized as one of the premier Pinot Noir producing areas in the world, with dozens of family owned, boutique estates taking advantage of the ideal maritime climate the Valley has to offer. Many of these producers are environmentally conscious and sustainably driven, wanting to protect the state’s pristine ecology, but one of the leaders of the pack is Left Coast Cellars, this month’s Pinot Noir Series Wine Club selection.
Left Coast Cellars was founded in 2003 by Suzanne Larson and her family in Rickreall, Oregon, a town fifteen minutes northwest of Salem, Oregon and just west of the Eola- Amity Hills sub-appellation boundary. Since day one, the winery and surrounding vineyards have been built on passion and a love of the land that is often taken for granted. Upon entering the winery’s iron-gate entrance, one can’t help but enjoy the jaw-dropping beauty of the pastoral grounds. From the spring-fed lake that naturally irrigates the vines through a gravity-fed system, to the old growth white oak trees, hazelnut trees, orchards, organic vegetable gardens, fields of wildflowers, truffle trees, estate beehives, and not to mention the meticulously tended grapevines, the Left Coast Cellars estate is simply a delight for the senses and the product of the Larsons’ daily efforts and dedication to land-use diversity.
The 130 acres of vineyards are planted on varying soils, elevations, and slopes throughout the 356-acre property, and it is this diverse combination of geography and geology that gives Left Coast Cellars wines a distinct sense of ride and place.
Suzanne Larson is of Scandinavian decent with farming in her blood, her great grandparents having immigrated from Norway to northern Washington where they settled and built a family farm. She also found inspiration for Left Coast Cellars while studying abroad in Tuscany and spending time in the Italian countryside. Here, she canned tomatoes, gathered mushrooms, cured olives and prosciutto, and stomped grapes to make her very first wine. It was a life-changing experience that left quite the impression on Suzanne, and her winery tasting room’s Farm Fresh Market approach certainly draws from these memories. In the 1970s, Suzanne spent time living in France, and it was here, among the world-class estates of Burgundy, that she caught the ‘Pinot-bug’ and began her love affair with the fascinating varietal.
Fast forward to 2003 when Suzanne moved her family from Colorado to the ‘left coast’ when she acquired the Willamette Valley property that would become Left Coast Cellars. The winery name also points to the left-handedness streak that runs through the Larson family. Luke McCollom was one of the first hires that Suzanne made, and his background in the California wine industry was put to good use from the start. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Luke gained viticulture and winemaking experience at Napa’s esteemed Harlan Estate and the Central Coast’s Meridian Vineyards. He has worked hand in hand with the Larson family to develop Left Coast’s vineyards and to produce wines that adequately represent this very special place. Luke began as Left Coast’s founding winemaker and now stands as the vineyard manager, overseeing the biodynamic and organic farming methods on the estate’s 130 acres of grapevines.
Another item of note is that the Left Coast Cellars property is directly intersected by the 45th parallel, the same latitude that runs through many of the great vineyard properties in France. Many of the winery’s vineyard block names were inspired by Suzanne’s time living in Paris: Field of Dreams, Latitude 45, Left Bank, Right Bank, The Bench, Truffle Hill, and The Orchards. Each block has a distinctive character suitable for various clones of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Viognier, and Syrah.
Visitors are delighted upon entering Left Coast Cellars’ tasting room, a pine-accented, rustic structure nestled among some of the oldest oak trees in the valley. Here, one can sample the limited production, award-winning wines that Left Coast Cellars has to offer and have a farm fresh bite to eat from the estate Cafe’s seasonal menu. Estate-made honey and jam are available, along with produce-driven offerings from the organic gardens, and cage-free eggs from the estate chickens and ducks.
Left Coast Cellars is truly one of Willamette Valley’s gems and it is our pleasure to feature one of their latest, most successful releases. Cheers!
Joe Wright - Winemaker
Joe joined the Left Coast Cellars team in Rickreall, Oregon in 2011. He was drawn to the diversity of Left Coast’s 356-acre estate and is now devoted to carefully crafting exclusively estate-grown wines that represent the special character of the site.
Joe joined the Oregon wine industry in 1996 after leaving Aspen, Colorado, where he managed a fine wine shop for several years. When he arrived in Oregon, Joe landed a ‘cellar rat’ position at Willamette Valley Vineyards and eventually became their assistant winemaker from 2000 to 2002. Following his tenure there, Joe started his own winery, Belle Vallee Cellars, and spent the next 9 years producing and blending Pinot Noir from several of Oregon’s premier vineyards. He was thrilled by the opportunity to work at Left Coast Cellars and continue focusing on premium, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
Joe Wright’s winemaking talent has grown immensely over the years and his success can be measured in the astounding number of awards and ratings he has achieved for the Left Coast Cellars brand.
Oregon’s Willamette Valley
At Left Coast Cellars, every day truly is Earth Day, as the team utilizes a variety of sustainably, organic, biodynamic and earth friendly farming practices in the vineyard.
Left Coast is one of 14 wineries to complete Oregon Environmental Council’s Carbon Reduction Challenge and one of the charter members of The Climate Registry, an initiative representing the largest greenhouse gas reduction effort in U.S. wine industry history. The winery also has two solar installations that generate the vast majority of their electricity, and the property’s 17-acre spring-fed lake collects rain water for gravity-fed irrigation to the vines.
Left Coast Cellars is planted to 130 acres of grapevines that are carefully managed by Luke McCollum. Located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this property has a misty, cool climate that is ideal for producing world-class Pinot Noir and other Burgundian-style varietals. The Willamette Valley AVA was established in 1984 and has become a renowned wine growing region known around the world.