Carl D. English, founder and winemaker at English Estate Winery from 2000 until his passing in 2010, authored Winegrowing in Clark County, Washington. He was a visionary and a passionate advocate for what Clark County terroir is capable of.
An excerpt from his work, written in 1980 and revised in 2006, reads “The soils and the climate in Clark County have not changed much over the past 25 years, but we have learned better how to grow wine grapes and make wine from our unique grapes…We have only begun to explore the wines that can be produced here. I predict it will be a widely expanded wine world in the Pacific Northwest in another 25 years. The prospects are exciting.”
English Sr. was referring to his close friends Linc and Joan Wolverton who established Salishan Vineyards in 1971, Bethany Vineyard & Winery, Yacolt Valley Vineyards, La Center Vineyards and Eagle Crest Vineyard—the later three growing grapes for personal use or to sell to home winemakers and English Estate. The cumulative knowledge they shared regarding growing challenges, grape varietal successes, site conditions and weather influences helped establish a firm foundation from which English Sr. was able to record an accurate and thorough growing history for the many wineries that have joined the Clark County wine family since.
I’ve sat in the tasting room at English Estate—the cozy Loafing Shed that dates back to 1915—and heard others exclaim “When I taste your wine, I taste the dirt” and thought how proud English Sr. would be of his daughter, Jennifer English Wallenberg, and son, Carl S. English, for their dedication to continue the English Family legacy as second-generation winemakers.
I also owe all my appreciation for pinot noir to English Estate. Being so close to the acclaimed Willamette Valley, I’d spent many a frustrating afternoon trying to grasp the secret behind this delicate wine but it was not until I befriended Andee Mowrey, tasting room manager at English, and had a few casual conversations with Carl S that I had my aha moment.
Yes, the terroir of Clark County is found for me in their 2008 Pinot Noir. The deep berry and light floral nose is intoxicating. Its soft tannins pair beautifully with fish. Its earthy, mushroom quality makes it a natural with Italian cuisine. There is an essence there of what the mouth of the Gorge can bring and, as English Sr. described it, “the Lauren gravelly loam soil.”
Today visitors can enjoy the fruits of 35-year old pinot noir vines planted in Clark County and that is thrilling! From noon-6 p.m. on Saturday, May 2nd English Estate Winery will be throwing a 100-year anniversary party. Complimentary tours of the farm (112 years old) and winery will be conducted by the English family at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., tastings will be available throughout the day (a $5 fee applies) and our newest winery, Rezabek Vineyards, will be pouring in the original Pump House.
In addition to several pinot noir vintages, English Estate crafts Rosé de Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Marguerite Metis (a white blend), Cabernet Sauvignon, Chief Factor’s Favorite (a red blend) and several sweet nectars fortified with pinot noir brandy distilled from their estate-grown grapes.
Come taste the dirt!
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