While attending this year’s Wine Blogger’s Conference in Santa Rosa, California, I was alerted to the passing of Patricia Green, co-founder and winemaker of Patricia Green Cellars. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Patty in person — in fact, I’ve yet to visit the winery either — she absolutely impacted my wine life. In fact, I dare say, she is the woman who gifted me my love of wine. So I dedicate this post to Patricia Green — her life, her legacy, and the influence she had on me as both a wine lover and wine writer.
I wish I still had the bottle or cork, but alas, I do not have any of physical memorabilia of the wine that changed my life. But I do have a memory. And it’s a memory I’d like to share with you.
At the age of 25, I’d been a wine drinker and a wine enjoyer for just a few years of my life. Indeed, many of the wines I’d come to know and love are those that had regular shelf talkers at my local BevMo and available for a 6-pack discount at my local Safeway. So I certainly knew, and somewhat understood, the difference between varietals: Chardonnay versus Sauvignon Blanc; Pinot Noir vs. Cabernet Sauvignon. But nuances in those varietals were completely lost on me: I was the kind of person who would simply pair a red wine with a red meat, a white wine with fish, and not think about flavors or textures — mostly because I wasn’t aware of any.
And so it was I found myself on an anniversary dinner at a local, former Michelin-starred restaurant, Alexander’s Steakhouse. All my partner and I knew was that we were in the mood for a Pinot Noir — a lighter bodied red wine that could pair well with either a steak or a fish dish, as the restaurant is known to do both quite well. We picked Patricia Green out of the small novel that is the wine list, mostly — I’m not going to lie — for its affordability. And when it arrived at the table, the sommelier poured me the sample taste and…
Flowers. I use this image from my favorite manga Drops of God because that is exactly what I tasted. “Flowers,” I said immediately after my first sip, “I taste flowers!” I couldn’t stop sipping and swishing and saying the word “flowers” after every swallow. My partner and the somm both looked at me quizzically, but happily, to see how much I was enjoying this wine, albeit in a peculiar way. This Patricia Green Estate Pinot Noir was the first time I ever had a wine that tasted like something. It wasn’t just a “red wine.” It wasn’t just a “Pinot Noir.” It was light-bodied, with silky tannins, and flavors of…flowers!
It was the first time I realized there was a whole other level of wine I hadn’t been privy to. The first time I found an interest in wine. And from that day forward I’ve been addicted to the discovery of the different aspects that wine has to offer.
Patricia Green Cellars 52 acre estate was purchased in 2000 by Patricia Green and Jim Anderson. Since then the long-time friends have become one of the longest-partnered winemaking duo in Oregon. Patricia Green cellars is 100% focused on the growth and production of Pinot Noir in the heart of the Willamette Valley. All wines are estate grown, each vineyard either organically or sustainably farmed. “Our goal is to work with unique vineyards that have wide ranging natures so that we can showcase a broad range of Oregon Pinot Noir capabilities,” says the winery.
And that is, in fact, what they do. As I said, I’ve yet to visit the actual estate, but I’ve had the opportunity to meet co-founder Jim Anderson and taste through more of Patricia Green’s elegant Pinot Noirs at different media events.
The other thing I remember about Jim was how highly he spoke of his partner in wine, Patty. Not just for her talent as a business woman or winemaker — but that she truly is the heart and sole of the winery, from vines to wines. “This winery is her manifestation of living a life that has been free of self-imposed restrictions.”
And so, I’d like to leave you with a few words from her lifelong friend, the man who probably knew her best, Jim Anderson.
“Patty was a mighty force and an old soul crammed into a small little body. She had done so many interesting and crazy things in her life way before she started making wine that it was hilarious how far down the list the life of a winemaker was in her amazing life. Her approach to winemaking was pure. She had no motivations to be famous or acknowledged or even particularly that well paid. She had a belief in what parts of the earth could bear and what she could do to guide that fruit along a path of turning from one pristine to state to another. Because of her desire to be extremely low-profile and the nature of the winery itself she likely did not get the accolades for her work in the Oregon wine business. Nonetheless I know that the loss I feel will also be a loss to the more delicate soul of all the things that make winemaking and vineyard tending special in Oregon.”
–Jim Anderson, Patricia Green Cellars co-founder, winemaker
And I do believe that it was this salt-of-the-earth, humble attitude that truly came through in my glass of Pinot Noir that May evening. I’ll never forget what Patricia Green did for my wine life and only hope that through my work as a wine writer, I can pass that passion forward. Cheers to you Patty!
More Info: For more information about Patricia Green, Patricia Green Cellars, including planning a visit to the estate or purchasing wines directly, please visit the Patricia Green Cellars website.
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