Stoller Reserve Chardonnay 2014, Willamette Valley
Cost: $40
A s the COVID-19 induced lockdown drags on I find myself turning more and more to wines produced from a winery I have visited. Drinking those wines pulls up pleasant memories as I look forward to future visits.
Stoller Family Estate in Oregon is not only a place I visited, but where I spent several nights sleeping in the middle of the vineyards with some of my friends from the Magnificent 8. We rented a house set in the vineyards and roamed all over the Willamette Valley to taste wines at beautiful properties. Looking back from this vantage point I can see it was a magical trip, and I hope there are more in the future.
None was more beautiful than Stoller. Its modern tasting room is set on a hilltop overlooking a large hillside vineyard. On warm days they lift the large, glass garage-type doors to make it feel like you’re sitting outside.
We drank this wine in our kitchen, but in my mind I was sitting in that tasting room, enjoying the view.
I definitely enjoyed the wine. It is a warm yellow in the glass, with floral and lemon aromas. On the palate I tasted citrus, peaches and apples, with a lush mouthfeel and a burst of crisp acidity on the finish.
The grapes come from the estate’s oldest Dijon vines, planted between 1995 and 2000, and whole cluster pressed. They are fermented in oak barrels and aged sur lie in barrels, as well. This adds to the satiny mouthfeel, and gives the wine a good weight.
I love the all-stainless Chardonnays, but this touch of oak gives the wine just the right amount of lushness without being an oak bomb.
The current release of this wine is 2017, so I have had it for a while, but it still tasted fresh and full of ripe fruit. Well-made white wines such as this one can improve with a couple of years of aging if you have the patience to wait for them.
Oregon is best known for Pinot Noir, but in the past decade or so grape growers and winemakers have taken advantage of the great soil and weather in the Willamette Valley to produce amazing Chardonnay. My friends and I found many that we liked, but the Stoller was right at the top of our list.
Winery: Stoller Vineyards owner Bill Stoller has deep roots in the vineyards. He was raised on the family farm outside of Dayton, Oregon.
After earning a business degree and an MBA Stoller co-founded a staffing company that became the largest privately-held staffing company in the world. He later founded a human resources outsource company.
All that allowed him to pursue his passion for wine.
The family farm was established in 1943 and the vineyard 50 years later. Over the last 25 years, the family has patiently transformed the 400-acre property into the largest contiguous vineyard in Oregon’s Dundee Hills.
The wines are produced from 100 percent estate fruit. The winery controls every step of the wine-growing and winemaking process, from pruning to bottling and everything in between. The result is award-winning wines that are balanced, complex, and consistently exceptional.
Three of my friends in the Stoller vineyard.
Much has changed from the original Stoller family farm, but two things remain constant: their pioneering spirit and commitment to the farm. The winery was the first in the world to receive LEED Gold certification, which means it is sustainably built and environmentally friendly. Stoller was named Best Tasting Room in the Nation by USA Today 10 Best Reader’s Choice poll in 2018 and Oregon’s Most Admired Winery by the Portland Business Journal for four consecutive years.
In 1993 Bill Stoller and his wife Cathy obtained part ownership in Chehalem Wines. Later that year the family turkey farm ceased operation. The Stollers bought the property from Bill’s cousin and decided to plant vines.
The land was marginal for farming, but the rocky, well-drained volcanic soil was ideal for growing grapes. The Stollers planted their first 20 acres of pinot noir and chardonnay in 1995.
The 4,000-square-foot tasting room is a stunner, with floor-to-ceiling glass garage doors that are opened in nice weather. The south-facing roof is covered with solar panels. The view is to the hillside vineyard.
Surrounding mountains protect the vineyards and create a warmer microclimate. The vineyard is divided into 101 sections, planted in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Tempranillo, Syrah and Pinot Blanc. The vineyard is primarily known for its six clones of Pinot Noir and three clones of Chardonnay.
Driveway to the tasting room.

The guest house we stayed in is one of three available to rent. All are among the vines and provide a memorable wine experience.
Last year Henry Peterson-Nedry decided to concentrate on his vineyard and sold his share of the Chehalem winery to Stoller. So now Bill Stoller runs both Stoller and Chehalem as well as a couple of other brands. It is a seamless transition as both families share values such as sustainability and innovation.
The Chehalem vineyards are in the Chehalem Mountains, Ribbon Ridge and Dundee Hills viticultural areas in the Willamette Valley.
Goes with: My wife Teri and I had this delicious wine with chicken stir fry, which is becoming one of my favorite meals because it is high in taste and nutrition and low in calories.
The citrus and fruit flavors nicely matched the tangy vegetables and spicy flavors of the stir fry. The wine and food complemented each other. Each sip called out for another forkful of stir fry, and each bite begged for another drink of wine.
I kept drinking the wine after dinner, and it was great by itself.
The stir fry changes over time, depending on which vegetables I have on hand, but generally it includes chicken, red and green bell peppers, celery, carrots, water chestnuts and peanuts. I add snow peas when I can find them. The dish is seasoned with chopped ginger, chopped garlic, chicken broth, soy sauce and sherry. I usually serve it over rice.
This wine will go well with all seafood and chicken dishes. Because it has a little weight behind it, it will pair well with slightly heavier dishes, such as chicken alfredo, fried chicken with gravy and heartier fish.

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The Stoller tasting room.

The view from the tasting room

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