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Two legends helped craft this wine.
To be honest, it sort of feels weird to be highlighting a wine that was made by women given that there’s thousands of stellar bottles out there made by females. Making a big deal about it seems a bit retrograde. That being said, International Women’s Day is an important day in a way that International Pinot Gris Day is not, and if you’re going to search for a bottle that mirrors that mixture of hope and hard work that is the hallmark of the occasion, I’m not sure you could do better than this bottle.
Let’s start with Lynn Penner-Ash, a bonafide legend in Oregon. She graduates from UC Davis, works at Chateau St. Jean and Stag’s Leap in Napa and in 1988 sees the future in Oregon when only a very small cadre of wine people did. She becomes winemaker at Rex Hill, then ultimately President and COO, but on the side she and husband Ron start their own passion project planting small amounts of pinot and syrah. In 2002 she makes the leap and her and Ron go all in on Penner-Ash. It turns out to be a prescient move – the wines quickly become minor legends, a sustainable gravity flow winery is built and all looks good. In many cases the story would end in 2016, when Lynn and Ron, having no obvious successor ready, agree to sell Penner-Ash to wine giant Jackson Family Wines.
But here’s where part two of making this bottle the most suitable for the occasion kicks in. Most casual observers think of Jackson Family Wines as the brainchild of legendary California winemaker Jess Jackson, who turned Kendall-Jackson into one of the nation’s pre-eminent wine brands. But what many don’t know is that on Jackson’s passing in 2011, it was his widow, Barbara Banke, that took the reins of the company and has steered to an unprecedented mix of quality and growth. In the past few years the company has purchased Sonoma’s Siduri and Copain and has done a wonderful job of letting those pinot-dominant wineries continue on their impressive paths. And they done the same with Penner-Ash.
So when you try this bottle of pinot you’ll mostly be struck by the sublime purity of it’s fruita beautiful blend of blueberry and dark cherry, that’s juicy without ever lapsing into lushness. Or maybe you’ll pick up that it doesn’t shy away from its tanninsthis ain’t Meomi, folksbut that they’re nicely integrated giving the wine a structure that screams high-end Oregon. But it’s also worth thinking about the two women who shaped this wine: Lynn Penner-Ash, who’s still the winemaker, and Barbara Banke, who’s content to let her do her thing.
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