Mark Vlossak started St. Innocent Winery by making a Chardonnay and a Pinot noir at a south Salem industrial park almost 30 years ago. Both wines have gained Vlossak and his Willamette Valley winery a place in the national spotlight within the past three years.
Vlossak, a wine importer’s son who has been drinking wine since he was seven, decided to get in the winemaking business when he read a Bon Apetit Magazine article where Andre Tshelishev said, “the greatest sparkling wine in America will be made in Oregon, not California, because it is the right place to grow Pinot noir and Chardonnay, the grapes of Champagne.”
Vlossak took up a two-year apprenticeship with Fred Arterberry, Jr. – who produced Oregon’s first sparkling cider and its first champagne – at McMinnville’s Arterberry Winery in the summer of 1987. He started his business a year later when he made 233 cases of Chardonnay, 176 cases of Pinot Noir and 160 cases of sparkling wine one year later and stored their bottles at a 36-square-foot warehouse in that industrial park.
From this tiny warehouse, , Vlossak grew St. Innocent’s operation to one that produces 10,000 cases of wine each year in the Willamette Valley’s Eola-Amity American Viticultural Area. This production includes six vineyard-designated Pinot noirs – Freedom Hill, Justice, Momtazi, Shea, Temperance Hill, and Zenith – a Chardonnay, a Pinot blanc, a Pinot gris and small lots of sparkling wine.
The winery scored a solid place in the national spotlight three years ago when wine critic Eric Asimov said its 2011 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot noir was “gracefully structured” in an article he wrote for the New York Times and listed it among 10 Oregon Pinot noirs from that vintage “people like me who love Pinot noirs of finesse and restraint will adore.”
Vlossak’s winery received even more praise last year when Wine Spectator gave its 2013 Freedom Hill Vineyard Chardonnay a 92-point rating and described it as being “fresh, polished and vital, with lively lime acidity to balance the yellow peach, pear and spice flavors.”
Come join us for a sampling of Vlossak’s wines at The Good Drop Wine Shoppe this Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and see for yourself why they’ve received all this praise. Tasting flights typically cost $10 per person, but this fee can be waived if you’re a member of our wine club members or if you purchase a bottle of wine at the event.