Bringing Old World Winemaking to Oregon
With an appreciation for wine flowing through his veins, Bordeaux native and winemaker Laurent Montalieu was just an infant when he experienced being in his first vineyard. Though he laughs and says that he doesn’t recall that particular experience, wine has definitely always been a part of his culture and family life growing up. After coming to the states in 1987 and finding much success, today he is the proud owner of Highland Estates, Soléna Estate, and NW Wine Company. His list of credits demonstrates just how effective he’s been in the wine industry, from California all the way to Portland.
With an enormous passion for wine and talent for winemaking, Montalieu came to Oregon in 1988. In 2000, after collecting an exceptional amount of experience and success with countless vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley, he and his wife Danielle Andrus Montalieu began to create their own winery, Soléna Estate.
“We always wanted to have our own brand. We wanted to create a high-end Pinot noir brand of our own, and that was really what we did,” Montalieu explained. “We planted the vineyard in 2000 but the first harvest and the first wine were made in 2003.”
The estate is now crafting a variety of wines, including Pinot noir, Pinot Gris, chardonnay, cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and Riesling from specific sites throughout Oregon and even up to Washington. They source from nine different vineyards, including the 80-acre Domaine Danielle Laurent, Hyland Vineyard Estate, and Domaine Loubejac.
Many would say that their handcrafted wines are a testimony to what quality wine truly is. “My winemaking philosophy would be to stay as true as possible to the ground. The expression of the ground in the wine is the most important,” Montalieu says. My goal is to cultivate the vineyards as organically as possible.”
Get out of town and visit Laurent and Danielle at their winery, Soléna Estate (17096 NE Woodland Loop Road, Yamhill, OR). Not only is their beautiful vineyard, you’ll learn about the winemaking process, and how to pair wines.
Photos by Carolyn Wells Kramer