STANDOUT WINE: 2016 Chardonnay Reserve ($60.00)
I wasn’t ready for it, this gorgeous winery in Southern Ashland. It was Labor Day. Yeah, I know I’m behind, but with numerous disastrous fires, near death by fire, PG&E constantly turning off our power crippling our work-at-home business, and a few other Mars/Mercury retrograde issues, it’s taken a minute. But in all those minutes, I have not stopped thinking about this winery.
There are a number of reasons for that. First, Irvine & Roberts was one of those delicious, unexpected surprises that gets inside you. Southern Ashland was the first stop on our 6 wine region wine/spa blog tour and while I had planned to combine each region into one post, when we arrived at Irvine & Roberts, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to do that. Before we even entered the tasting room, I knew this space needed its own story. I could feel the care and grace that had gone into creating this space and it wouldn’t be right to lump it with the others. A land healer who spends time and ritual exploring geography, I am sensitive to such things, and I don’t frequently experience a convergence of sensations like those that emanate from Irvine & Roberts.
We stopped to take in the gardens on the entry. Native plants covered the hillside on the right. To the left, the breathtaking views of the vineyards and mountain ranges that embrace the property. It was peaceful. Quiet. Almost, Botanical Garden vibes. I almost forgot we were at a winery and that it was Covid Season until I saw this.
As we walk up to the tasting room, we are greeted first by a sign of the times, recognizing we are in Covid Season, thanking us graciously for being there, and letting us know safety protocol is in place. We enter into that wine I mentioned in the title: divine white wine that will blow your mind! Even before we reach check-in, the wine is flowing. What a beautiful way to start the tasting. The pour was another delicious Chardonnay. The Reserve was yet to come.
White wine in hand, we were escorted to a breathtaking vista where we spent the next 3 hours. What made this feel like West World or some video game that we had leveled up in was that we had been locked down with fires, repressive heat, and COVID. We hadn’t seen blue skies for what felt like months up in Northern California. Sitting and taking in this stunning view of the vineyard, sipping the welcoming white wine, was such a treat. All this before the tasting had even officially begun.
But back up. On the walk to the table, I noticed a kitchen to the right of the tasting room and a woman with kind, smiling eyes behind her black mask. After we had sat for a few moments, 80s music (which, let’s be honest, is really the best) piping out to the patio at a perfect background level, the woman with the kind eyes came out and introduced herself as Dionne Roberts. I immediately understood why the winery felt the way it did. Dionne’s whole presence is one of kindness, graciousness, and it makes you, the taster, feel cared for knowing you’re in good hands.
We spent some special time hearing Dionne tell us about how she and her husband, Doug, had been real estate people in Temecula, California and returned to Oregon to raise their daughters, deciding to dive into the wine business head first. There are many different models for making wines, but Irvine & Roberts decided they would do it all: grow the grapes on site, use the grapes in their wines, taste the wines while looking at the grapes and top all that with grace, elegance, and tasty food pairings. An epicurean’s delight! That’s where Chef Kris comes in.
Chef Kris loves working in the kitchen with unique pairings and that’s where the transformational experience takes hold. I don’t write this from the point of view of food or wine, but rather the combination of both and how they transform each other. Kris rocks that! In Italy, we experienced this often, but the servings were so big. In Italy, even though we walked 1,000 miles there, I gained 15 pounds just trying to taste the over-powering combinations. At Irvine & Roberts, however, the presentation is perfect because somehow, the combination of flavors is so fully satisfying to all the senses that you walk away feeling you’ve eaten a decadent meal. As not many wineries could figure out how to do food in Covid Season, we were grateful Irvine & Roberts made this a priority. In fact, it spoiled us a little moving forward. As we sat taking in the tastes of Kris’ master combos with the flight, sounds of the 80s, bouquets of the wines, and the gorgeous mountains framing it all, I was so compelled to capture it for you.
My fear was that the wine would not hold up. How could it? Unfounded fears (as most fears are.) Oh, was I wrong. Not only was everything we tasted magnificent, with that white wine that will blow your mind thing, but the presentation was in the top 5% of California wineries. Beyond the amazing vintages, each of which is a star in its own right, one reason for this is their attention to glassware. Kris brought out all the different kinds of glasses for the different wines which just made it all that much better.
At this moment, I must come clean: I am not as much a wine snob as a glass snob. I absolutely cringe when I see someone bringing out anything less than a Riedel. I mean, I feel sad for the wine. Like it’s disrespectful or something to all of the hard work that’s gone into the vintage. I mean, this stuff takes YEARS to cook. So when I saw we spoke the same glass language, my heart fluttered a bit and I knew the wine would showcase at its best classy, graceful self.
A moment more on glasses, and this is where I tell you I do get some wine money if you buy from these links which I love and appreciate, but that’s secondary to the importance of you knowing this. The top favorite Riedel glasses I drink from now come in a combo pack! This is the best news. The new world Pinot glasses are amazing, but the Cab/Merlot ones are necessary, too. If you want to taste wine the way it should be tasted, you need to go here now and get these gems. And remember when I said that Irvine & Roberts has white wines that will blow your mind? Get these for that because drinking white wine out of a red glass just loses something. Be warned: it will be hard to go back to drinking wine out of water glasses, but you will reach a whole new level of flavor fun.
Coming to Irvine & Roberts first on this trip set a standard for all the wineries and made me rethink my whole template for how to write about future wineries. I will return to this winery, to write about the specific wines in more detail because they deserve that, but for now you just need to go see for yourself. You must get (at least a glass of the chardonnay reserve 2016. I hardly even drink any other whites than Cakebread’s Chardonnay Reserve, but this one is a white wine that will blow your mind. And don’t even get me started on the Clandestine Pinot Noir.
In advance, you’re welcome.
PS Kris gave us these home made crackers to go because he’s awesome like that.
Make a reservation: 541-482-9383
ALWAYS tip, whether you buy wine or not
Curated Flight ($20) add Curated Pairing ($6) !!!
Give yourself a solid 2 hours to enjoy their grace
Go early, preferably on Tuesday, for less crowds
1614 Emigrant Creek Road, Ashland, OR 97520
How much does wine cost here?
$30 – 60 per bottle, with higher price magnums available
On site glasses of wine run $9