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In the early 90s we fell in love with Pinot noir. Its elegance and sensuality – and the beautiful way it paired with a range of foods delighted us. As we tasted through wines from across the country we found the characteristics we most loved in Oregon Pinot noir. We believe it is due in large part to Oregon’s unique climate and soils paired with the heritage of artisanal craftsmanship and an obsession with making small lots of the highest quality wine. On a practical level we found the Oregon wine community to be a collaborative one – where newcomers are welcomed, tutored and expected to perfect their craft.
In 2006 we relocated from Boston and have made Dundee, Oregon our home. We are committed to continuing the traditions of responsible stewardship of the land and the highest quality artisan winemaking.
With boundless enthusiasm and absolutely zero cellar experience, I headed to Marlborough, New Zealand to do my first harvest. What was intended to be a six month sabbatical turned into five years, six countries, nine harvests and a lifetime’s worth of experience and memories.
I certainly have not exhausted my desire to travel, and while I am quite happy to be wearing clean clothes and to have found a home back in the Willamette Valley, I love getting out on the road, visiting markets and meeting Winderlea wine lovers across the country. The winemaking team even lets me in the cellar now and again.
I was introduced to the world of wine while working in restaurants in college in Florida. I was so thoroughly intrigued by the balance of food and wine pairings that I took a study abroad to Provence and the Côtes du Rhône, which cemented my desire to make wine my career. I was enamored by the generous nature of the locals, the down-to-earth and approachable nature of the incredible food and wine scene, and the overall enjoyment of life the culture provided.
After graduating with a degree in Hospitality Management, I passed my certified sommelier exam and continued to work managing restaurants and retail wine shops, cultivating a fondness and preference for cool-climate wines and, increasingly, Oregon Pinot noir and Chardonnay. I made my way to Oregon in the fall of 2019 to work in the cellar at Brittan/Winderlea and to make the Willamette Valley my home. I’m now thrilled to be able to work with Winderlea’s hospitality program. When I’m not working with wine, I spend time hiking at the Oregon coast, experimenting with fermentation at home, and watching reruns of Twin Peaks.
Following a desire to be in the thick of the action, I soon moved west and in April of 2015 joined the team at Winderlea. When I’m not behind the bar in the tasting room, I love exploring Portland and my new Pacific Northwest home, where I am settling in quite comfortably. Besides a love of wine, my favorite things include laughing incessantly with friends, traveling and Law and Order SVU.
Leigh’s background and experience is vast. After gleaning hands-on vineyard experience in both Washington State and Chile, Leigh studied viticulture at the University of California at Davis. Master’s degree in hand, she then traveled the world, working harvests from California to Burgundy and south to New Zealand. Returning to the West Coast in 2000, Leigh became the vineyard manager for Archery Summit. In 2002, she and her husband, Patrick Reuter, planted their vineyard in Mosier and began producing their own wines for their brand Dominio IV.
Leigh is a graduate of the University of California Davis with a master of science degree in horticulture. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in International Studies with a focus on South America. Her experience includes conducting viritcultural research at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, CA, as a custom-crush manager at Vina Errazuriz & Caliterra in Chile and as a viticulturalist at Cain Vineyard in St. Helena, CA.
The day the 2010 Vancouver Olympics kicked off was also the day that I defended my thesis, packed my backpack and boarded a plane bound for Australia and my first wine harvest on the Mornington Peninsula. Many winemakers fall in love with the craft during their travel years, and I was no exception. I chased new friends, flavors and dreams across the world’s cellars and vineyards, including two 5-month stints in Marlborough and Central Otago, New Zealand, and a very formative harvest in the Northern Rhone Valley that set the tone for a career in winemaking.
I moved to Oregon in the summer of 2012 after a hot and dusty drive across Washington state. I pulled up to a humble but cheery Carlton farmhouse that had a chicken smoking on the patio and a carboy of cider percolating in the kitchen. I felt that I had arrived; that I was home. My first days at the winery the following summer reiterated this sense of community and belonging, and I have been thrilled to grow with the Winderlea/Brittan group and its culture of excellence ever since.