A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"


Penner – Ash – A Willamette Valley Gem

August 20th, 2010

The Willamette Valley is a great Oregon wine region that showcases Pinot Noir. Known to have many of the attributes of Burgundy, this wine region has really blossomed over the last ten years. Last week I had the opportunity to visit it for the first time. The Willamette Valley is about 45 minutes south of Portland and spans about 60 miles. There are over 200 wineries in the Willamette Valley, most specializing in Pinot Noir.

Penner Ash Wine Cellars is a small winery in northern Willamette Valley. Lynn & Ron Penner-Ash started the winery in 1998, producing only 125 cases of Pinot Noir. Today they produce about 8,000 cases of wine, and the quality is outstanding. The winery is located on the top of a hill, and the views will leave you breathless.

The Views from Penner-Ash

The Views from Penner-Ash

Most wineries are quite pretty, typically located amongst acres of vineyards. What caught my attention as we walked to the Tasting room was the abundance of flowers: lavender, cone flowers, black eyed susan to name a few. That jolt of color woke up my senses; I was ready to taste some wine. Since Pinot Noir is their specialty, we focused our tasting on four Pinot Noirs: ’07 Palmer Creek Vineyard, ’08 Elevee Vineyard, ’07 Dussin Estate, and ’08 Willamette Valley. All four wines were excellent. They were medium bodied with layers of fruit and spices. The wines stood out because they were perfectly balanced and had an incredibly long finish. I though Palmer Creek and Dussin needed a bit more aging to reach their full potential. My favorite wine was Elevee because it was complex, smooth, and ready to¬† drink now. This wine was lively, yet very elegant. The Willamette Valley Pinot is another great pick. It’s a blend from about ten vineyards, and the result is superb.

Lynn Penner Ash started the winery with her husband and is the winemaker. She was the enologist at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars for 4 years.

Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash

Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash

She joined the Oregon wine industry in 1993 as the winemaker for Rex Hill Winery; and produced many award winning wines. At Penner-Ash she has been very successful, consistently making high scoring wines. Harvey Steiman of the Wine Spectator recently reviewed several of their Pinots, and most scores were 90+points. You may want to visit their website here. I have visited many wineries over the years, and Penner-Ash rates very high on the list. The wines are excellent, and the surroundings are beautiful,yet there was a third factor that made their winery so special – the staff. I met a number of them as they were making their way to the outdoor terrace to share lunch and some pinot noir beer. You could tell everyone enjoyed working there.

If you like Pinot Noir, then I think you need to try Penner-Ash. Cheers!

2 Responses to “Penner – Ash – A Willamette Valley Gem”

  1. Linda Ross0 says:

    Sounds like the perfect stop as we drive our son to college in Washington — thanks!

  2. Hello there, I really like your article, your writting style is amazing and if this is a true sample of your whit, I will be back!.

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