With March being Women’s History Month, it’s that time of year when the usual suspects tend to get trotted out. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Julia Child, The Widow Clicquot and all the other women who have enriched my epicurean world, but it’s the 21st century, folks. Let’s see if we can’t find some women who are making things happen today!
You might have caught my recent virtual tasting with Melissa Burr at Stoller Vineyards. Melissa epitomizes the modern woman in wine. While there have no doubt been the doubters and the naysayers, Melissa has established herself as a well respected and talented winemaker in what may very well be the most collaborative, forward-looking wine community on the planet!Yes, it’s true I am a big fan of what is going on in Oregon, and Stoller Vineyards and Melissa Burr are some fine examples of why!
To begin with, a few brief words about Stoller Vineyards are in order. Stoller is a beautiful family-owned property that marks the southern edge of the Dundee Hills, very possibly Oregon’s finest region for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Stoller family knows this land, having worked it as a turkey farm for years. Little did they realize at the time how perfectly sited these rolling hills of south-facing Jory soil would turn out to be.
It took a while, until 1995 to be exact, before vines were planted here. And after a handful of vintages, this new winery -- in a wide, open, developing wine land -- embraced the spirit of Oregon’s emerging wine country and hired Melissa Burr as its wine maker.
Melissa’s professional life is all about wine, and all about Oregon. A Willamette Valley native, who studied, trained, and got her start in these rolling hills, Melissa came to Stoller in 2003 and has worked from strength to strength through each vintage. The opportunity to work at Stoller, with a fixed vineyard source and consistent vineyard practices, has created a bond between Melissa and these lands -- and the results show in every bottle of Stoller wine.
I recently sat down with Melissa for a virtual tasting and her command of every detail of production at Stoller was matched only by the ease with which she relayed that information. It’s a very informative, entertaining interview that is well worth watching. In addition, at that time I took the opportunity to ask Melissa some more personal questions about her history, time at Stoller, and being a woman in a business that is still dominated by men. Her candid answers were informative, and just a little surprising!