The Allure of Alloro

Rows of cypress, aromatic herbs, olive trees, a terra cotta-adorned villa and spicy wines evoke la dolce vita—the good life found in the Mediterranean climate of Italy. Thanks to the Italian heritage of one vineyard manager, this scene can also be enjoyed in the heart of the Willamette Valley.

Located in the Chehalem AVA, Alloro Vineyard is an 80 acre dream-come-true for owner, David Nemarnik. With 33 acres under vine, he and winemaker, Tom Fitzpatrick, concentrate on an all estate-grown production.

Alloro Vineyard brings la dolce vita to the Willamette Valley. Dan Eierdam
Alloro Vineyard brings la dolce vita to the Willamette Valley. Dan Eierdam

Concentrating on expressive varietals since the first vintage in 2002, Alloro releases three site pinot noirs each year. The bulk of their focus is on their Estate bottling—a terroir-driven wine that, Fitzpatrick explained, best captures the personality and purity of the vineyard. The Riservata delivers a mouth-feel with a little more weight within the context of the vintage and increases the use of new oak. Named after David’s daughter, Justina uses the most new oak of the three selections. It’s a showier version of a wine in its youth with a persistence on the palate that becomes increasingly terroir-driven as it ages.

Extracting all the benefits of their well-draining, loess-derived soil has not gone unnoticed in the world of wine critics. Most recently 2011 and 2012 Alloro pinot noirs earned rave reviews from both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator.  For the white wine lover, their 2014 Chardonnay garnered 91 points from Decanter Magazine. Bright acidity and stone fruit notes make this an immediately approachable Oregon chardonnay. Lingering spice on the finish graduates it to a food-friendly offering.

On a recent visit Nemarnik (shown center) and Fitzpatrick (on the right) explained that at the forefront of all their farming and harvesting decisions is their reverence for the land. Dan Eierdam
On a recent visit Nemarnik (shown center) and Fitzpatrick (on the right) explained that at the forefront of all their farming and harvesting decisions is their reverence for the land. Dan Eierdam

At the forefront of all farming and harvesting decisions is Nemarnik and Fitzpatrick’s reverence for the land. LIVE-certified, Alloro’s goal is sustainability and, while they are not biodynamic, they strive for a predominantly organic vineyard. Their holistic approach is demonstrated beautifully at their annual Whole Farm Dinner, held each September.

With the fall dinner in mind, Nemarnik meticulously plans his estate garden early each year and a lamb is raised on site for the meal, as well. He shared that over 90 percent of the ingredients supplied for the Whole Farm Dinner are sourced from the grounds of Alloro. The windblown sedimentary soil that produces darker fruits with more masculine, Italian spice notes creates the ideal pinot noirs to pair with this much-anticipated harvest menu.

Thanks to the Italian heritage of one vineyard manager, a slice of the good life found in the Mediterranean climate of Italy can also be enjoyed in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Dan Eierdam
Thanks to the Italian heritage of one vineyard manager, a slice of the good life found in the Mediterranean climate of Italy can also be enjoyed in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Dan Eierdam

A traditional underground cellar stores the wines much like Nemarnik recalls from his numerous trips to visit family in his youth. Such was his commitment to create a truly authentic experience that he hired architect, Laurence Ferar, to execute his vision. Ferar has made a name for himself in the winery world with a client list that includes Adelsheim, Alexana, Lemelson, Leonetti, Illahe, Raptor Ridge and Van Duzer, to name a few. It is a special space that exudes ambience fitting for an intimate winemaker’s dinner.

The seed for Alloro was planted in Nemarnik at a young age and, after following the second career of his great-grandfather—a produce distributor— he circled back around to farming and found his nitch in the wine world. His fortuitous partnership with Fitzpatrick, who brought with him extensive Burgundian winemaking experience, is further proof that Alloro’s allure is as powerful and captivating as its wines.