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    Melon de Bourgogne in Oregon State

    Melon de Bourgogne first came north from California in ~1978 to Stewart Vineyard in Dayton, Oregon. (Not sure where he got his plants.) They believed they were planting Pinot Blanc; they used a head trained method and had about 3 acres of this grape.

    Ken Wright was the owner/winemaker for Panther Creek Cellars in the late 1980's. From an email I exchanged with him in Aug-2004:

    [Stewart Vineyard] sold the fruit for many years as Pinot Blanc but when I visited the site during the growing season the morphology of the leaves didn't look like Pinot Blanc. I sent leaf samples overnight to ampelographer Lucy Morton in Virginia asking her to identify the variety without telling her what I thought it was. She got back to me the next day to say that without doubt the variety was Melon de Bourgogne.

    All of this confirmed what Pierre Galet had asserted on his visit to California in 1979 or so. When looking at Pinot Blanc vineyards in Monterey County he was sure that they were in fact Melon de Bourgogne. He didn't find a true Pinot Blanc vine in all of California which pointed to an error by UC Davis Foundation Plant Service when bringing in the variety.

    As far as I know we [Panther Creek] were the first in the country to properly label the grape Melon de Bourgogne beginning in 1989.

    The Stewarts have since sold their vineyard to the Baldwins; I believe they still produce the Melon de Bourgogne that Panther Creek continues to release today. Between 1989 and 1993 the Panther Creek wines were made by Ken Wright, and were barrel fermented to dryness and aged on the lees until bottling in late spring.

    Ken Wright sold Panther Creek to Ron Kaplan in 1994, and started his own winery Ken Wright Cellars. Ken Wright Cellars (the winery) has not produced a Melon de Bourgogne as the grape source was part of the package Ken sold to Ron with Panther Creek.

    In 1966, David Lett left U. C. Davis and started The Eyrie Vineyards in Oregon state. According to Wine Business Monthly Sep-2000 (article is too old to be on their website)

    Among the cuttings he brought up from Davis, Lett Planted what he was told was Pinot blanc. It has turned out that most Davis-sourced Pinot blanc should really have been labeled Melon, a varietal with roots in Burgundy (Melon de Bourgogne), now best known by the Muscadet Appellation of the Loire Valley. Lett, though, thinks the cuttings he brought up to Oregon are really Chardonnay. "The plant shows a naked vein and looks like a clone of Chardonnay. It tastes like Chardonnay and I blend mine into Chardonnay. The plant bears no resemblence to any Pinot variety," says Lett.

    That Pinot blanc controversy sent David Adelsheim to Colmar to obtain plant material. Adelsheim made a trip to Alsace in 1975 and arranged to send back to Oregon State University samples of all of the region's grape varieties, including the then never-seen true Pinot blanc. True Pinot blanc wasn't bottled in Oregon until 1988 by Cameron, followed by Adelsheim in 1989.


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