In 1974, fourth generation Oregon farmer Joe Campbell and his wife, Pat decided to buy a unique plot of land in the farthest reaches of the Northern Willamette Valley near Gaston. Even today – there’s pretty much no wine grown further afield. At the time, there were less than a dozen wineries in the whole state – and not a single one anywhere nearby.
Most people told the Campbells that they were crazy. It was too cold and the conditions too harsh to grow quality Pinot Noir at these extremes. Undeterred they selected the area around a few hill top ponds that formed a small cove where herds of elk would collect to drink.
And while the conditions were extreme, they somehow managed to find perfect balance. The extreme northern location and elevation (750 feet above sea level – still one of Oregon’s highest), seemed to find their match in extended sunshine and growing season afforded by the sun-baked southern exposure of the estate vineyards.
But the most important feature couldn’t be seen with the naked eye, it was that highly cherished Willakenzie soil – marine sediment soil that is perfectly equipped to drain and aid vine development.
True pioneers, the Campbells achieved success almost immediately with Robert Parker himself declaring as early as the 1980’s, “This winery continues to turn out distinctive wines, emphasizing the elegant, complex, finesse side of Pinot Noir.” A parade of high-flying scores and too many top 100 wine list appearances than I even care to count followed.
But even with that success, no one saw what would be coming when their son Adam took over the reins. Indeed Adam’s 2018’s are much like the last few vintages I’ve had from Elk Cove. There’s a reason these guys are restaurant list darlings. Their Pinot Noir is so elegant, smooth, and lip-smackingly food friendly. They product a whole lineup of Pinot Noirs, each completely different from the next, but all with complexity and texture.
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91 Pts, Wine Spectator
Such a pretty and approachable red, with delicate cherry, rose petal and spice flavors that linger toward polished tannins. Drink now through 2026.
91 Pts, James Suckling
This has a very attractively fragrant and perfumed nose with roses, red cherries and berry pastry. The palate has good intensity and depth with very supple, sweet red cherries taking center stage.
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