It was a chilly spring evening as we wound our way on country roads from Salem to the Newberg countryside. We were headed to Domaine Divio Vineyards for an eagerly anticipated wine dinner in a new tasting room.
The Domaine Divio tasting room, in the heart of the Ribbon Ridge AVA in Newberg, Oregon, was designed as a barn. It is a simple building with a barn door that opens on to the beauty of the vineyard. A flickering fireplace provided a warm welcome and we sipped a glass of wine and chatted with the owners, Bruno and Isabelle Corneaux.
From France to Oregon
Putting down roots in Oregon was a long time dream of Bruno and Isabelle Corneaux. From Bruno’s first Oregon encounter, working as a harvest intern with Domaine Drouhin in 1996, Bruno and Isabelle knew this was where they wanted to make their home. Bruno refers to Willamette Valley as ‘the Pinot promised land” and their goal is to create the perfect Pinot.
Bruno is a fourth generation Burgundian vintner. A wish to explore new options lead him to pursue a degree in Biology and Biochemistry in Dijon. Ultimately he found out that the lab was not for him. Wine was his passion and he returned to the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon to earn a Master’s Degree in Enology and Viticulture.
Work within the wine industry took Bruno and Isabelle around the world. In 2009 Bruno finally returned to Oregon to become the vineyard manager and winemaker for Solena Estates. His wife, Isabelle, took a position as a professor at nearby George Fox University.
Bruno and his business partner, Andre Weil, began their label, Domaine Divio in 2012 using local premium grapes. In 2014 they found what they had been looking for… 23 acres nestled in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, destined to be the home of Domaine Divio. They planted the first grapes in the fall of 2014 and are continuing to develop the vineyard they named Clos Gallia.
Domaine Divio – The Wines
Domaine Divio, we were told, produces Burgundian varietals using minimal intervention which is good for the land and reflects the essence of the fruit in a traditional Burgundian style. Using biodynamic practices Bruno incorporates native plants and beneficial insects to his vineyard management.
The tasting flight that evening ranged from a smooth 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Beurot through their 2012 and 2014 deep red Pinots. My preference leans toward European wines and I soon realized I had found that taste in their offerings. Their lots are small and some wines are held out exclusively for wine club members.
The Wine Dinner at Domaine Divio
While the wines were excellent, my eye also went to the beautifully set table in front of the fireplace. Bruno stoked the fire to warm the room as we were seated for dinner.
That evening we were to get a sense of the hospitality and the food that wine club members and guests at special events would enjoy.
Our chef for the evening, Christophe Vezinet, originally from France, started us out with a Tian de saumon mariné bourguignon to be paired with a crisp Domaine Divio Chardonnay. This was no simple dish. It was beautifully layered. The bottom layer was caramelized leeks, topped with a creamy layer of salmon spread and finished with a layer or avocado puree. The whole dish was marinated in a slightly tangy sauce of citrus and dill.
In keeping with the Burgundian theme, the entrée was Boeuf Bourguignon accompanied by fingerling potatoes and herbs with a cooked and mashed celery root. The dish was paired with an amazing Domaine Divio Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountain 2014 (usually reserved for club members).
By the time we enjoyed dessert, we could easily fantasize that we were in the French countryside. Dessert was a pear tart with a frangipane filling, poached in Pinot Beurot, and oven toasted for a crispy top finish paired with the Domaine Divio Pinot Beurot 2016.
The drive back that evening was, of course, more relaxed as we made our way back to the lights of Salem.
When You Go to Domaine Divio
Tastings are offered Friday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and by appointment. They offer a $15 tasting flight of Domaine Divio wines, waived with a purchase of two bottles or a wine club sign-up.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.