Whenever someone starts talking about Cameron wines the conversation inevitably turns to owner and winemaker John Paul. After earning a PhD in Marine Biology in the mid-70s, John Paul chucked it all and went to work in a California vineyard for $5 an hour. After a stint as the assistant winemaker at Carneros Creek in Napa Valley, he purchased a vineyard in the Dundee Hills within Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Today, his wines are as much an expression of his irrepressible personality as they are the Dundee Hills terroir he champions. Whether it’s the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay he crafts with monastic patience or the Nebbiolo, Tocai Pinot Bianco and Moscato he’s embraced from many pilgrimages to northern Italy, each wine is a singular reflection of one place, one time and one winemaker.
The wines also reflect an ecological approach that he has fostered not only in the vineyard, but the winery as well. When the cellar was constructed he seeded the walls with spores so fungus would flourish and create the appropriate environment for fermentation and aging. Walking down the staircase into the cellar, there’s a sense that the cellar is actually alive. This may well be the source of the classic “Cameron Cellar Funk”, a quality that pervades nearly all the wines made there. If tasting blind against other Oregon Pinots, even other Dundee Hills Pinots, you can pick out Cameron nearly every time.
Dry viticulture is first among the factors he lists in making great wine and this point he tirelessly promotes whenever given a chance. Other tenets he follows are spontaneous fermentations (fostering wild yeasts rather than inoculating) whenever possible, long maturation times in barrel that extend up to 24 months or more and also a cold, underground cellar. No heaters will be found at Cameron during crush, pumping up the temperature to encourage fast and furious ferments.
One of the things you start to love about Cameron wines is the inconsistency from vintage to vintage. He believes wine should reflect the vintage as much as possible while trying to produce a great wine. You won’t find any gadgets or techniques designed to make a product that tastes the same from year to year, or that takes any of the uncertainty out of the experience of opening a bottle of wine. – Winegeeks
For more information, please see: www.cameronwines.com