wine cave at Archery Summit - Diane Armitage

Diane’s note: A couple weeks ago, when I was visiting family in Oregon’s famous Willamette Valley, I decided to make a day of it with three “VIP wine tastings” … and took my brother, Rob, along to all of them. This review covers Archery Summit in Dayton, Oregon. 

Click here for  more information on The Willamette (pronounced Will-AH-met) Valley (500 wineries!) In addition to this review, see my entries on Archer Vineyard and Duke’s Family Vineyard

Each of these vineyards opened their doors for us in a very V.I.P. way (Duke’s doesn’t even offer tastings except around high-traffic holidays), so be sure to visit their websites and call in advance should you decide to follow in our footsteps. 

Here’s what I discovered.

Founded in 1994, Archery Summit perches atop a hill with views of numerous vineyards and the Chehelam mountains in the background. Archery owns six vineyards totaling 120 acres, all of which ramble in and among the Dundee Hills of the Willamette Valley.

Rob Molzahn in wine cave tasting at Archery Summit

When we arrived, Tiffany Debolt met us at the door, having already set up a most decadent “Estate Tasting” in the heart of their wine cave. This is no ordinary “cave,” but a manmade excursion that spiders in several directions more than a quarter mile under the hill. Its 1993 construction alone required a mining permit and required two years’ time to complete (twice the time they anticipated). Its vastness is so extraordinary that the walk through the 55-degree caverns in the wine-infused air is worth the visit to Archery, in and of itself.

But, then there’s the Archery Summit wine, and this is no ordinary wine, either. The unique event Tiffany arranged for us offered six tastes of their vineyard designate wines coupled with a generous charcuterie.

She began with the Renegade Ridge Estate wine, which is the vineyard Archery actually perches upon. Renegade is the only one of their six vineyards that is wholly biodynamically farmed, with planting, organic feeding and harvesting done on the moon’s calendar. As you can expect from this gentler form of farming, the Pinot Noir that emerges is delicate and light.

From there, we ramble through extraordinary tastes and comparisons. Archer’s Edge Estate Pinot Noir requires about 4 years to mature and is a kicky, expressive wine in the process, while the Red Hills Estate Pinot is ready to drink, yet still complex and sophisticated. This particular vintage involves whole cluster inclusion, eventually offering soft notes of dried fruit and what Tiffany terms “winter baking spices.”

Archery Summit Pinot Noirs

We venture to yet another Archery vineyard, Looney Vineyard, for a taste of their Ribbon Ridge Pinot, and discover lovely dark fruit characteristics  melded from soil heavy in marine sediment. Then, it’s a hop to the Archery Summit Estate wine, the first vineyard planted in 1994 specifically for Archery. This wine spends more time in French oak than its peers (an average 12-14 months) and proves silky, intense perfection. (My favorite.)

Finally, it’s their Arcus Estate Pinot, their most “iconic” vineyard in that it was planted in 1973 at Willamette’s wine infancy. A very steep vineyard with southwest warmth from every direction, this vineyard is known for producing true heavyweights in the world of great Pinot Noirs. It is a lavish delight, beginning to end.

What a great way to begin our day of VIP wine tastings! Archery Summit’s wine club members are invited to A-List events through the year, and private tastings are available by appointment. The public tasting room hours run daily, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. except on major holidays. Contact Archery Summit at (503) 864-4300.


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