About Robert Foley Vineyards
Robert Foley Vineyards
Bob and Kelly Foley
I first met Bob Foley when he was the winemaker at Markham Vineyards. This was back in the days when Bruce Markham still owned the place, and I was working there as a marketing agent. The wines were monumental — tannic, solid, old school — but Bob was destined for greater things still. After Markham was sold, he took a position at Pride Mountain Vineyards, where he spent 15 years and earned superstar fame. High-profile consulting work at Switchback Ridge, Hourglass, Paloma, School House, and Engel Family only added to his legend.
Never content to sit on his heels, Bob launched his own winery in 1998 with a tiny, 250-case production of Claret. The wine received great critical acclaim (94 points from Robert Parker — a big Foley fan) and the brand took off from there. The early vintages were custom-crushed and sourced from top vineyards up and down the valley — One of the keys to Bob’s success has always been the great care he takes in selecting the grapes that go into his wines. In 2006, Bob purchased a winery of his own as well as a vineyard on Howell Mountain. Production has steadily increased since then, and Bob currently makes a range of wines that include an Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, classic Bordeaux blends, and his delicious Claret, as well as Petit Sirah, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, and one of his personal favorites, Charbono.
If there was another key to Bob’s success it would have be his innate zeal and curiosity. When I visited him at the winery we tasted his latest passion project, a newly minted Port-style fortified wine, made from Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Cão. His boyish enthusiasm is evident in everything that he does, and it all shines through in these beautiful, concentrated, and delicious wines.
Pinot Blanc Facts
Rich and medium bodied, with hints of honey, tropical fruit, and smoke
Poultry, seafood and pork
Pinot Blanc may not receive the same respect given to noble varieties like Chardonnay and Riesling, or even other Alsatian whites like Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. But at its best, with grapes from low-yielding vines, Pinot Blanc can produce exciting values: creamy, medium bodied wines, with honey-like aromas and flavors.
A relative of both Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc is grown in a number of countries under a variety of names. In Germany, it is Weisseburgunder, while in Italy, it is called Pinot Bianco.
Still, the fact that we are most familiar with the grape as Pinot Blanc is a dead tip-off that the best examples of the grape come from France. In France, Pinot Blanc is most notably grown in Alsace, where it is either bottled on its own, used as a major component in the sparkling wine Cremant D'Alsace, or blended with other varieties in the region's traditional wine, Edelzwicker. We don't see much Edelzwicker, since the export market for this wine is virtually non-existent. But we're happy that we can get a decent amount of single-varietal Pinot Blanc from Alsace; the wine is made in some form by almost every Alsatian winery. These can be rich, sometimes tropical, smoky wines that are low in acidity. Look for offerings from Domaine Marcel Deiss and Domaine Schoffit.
In the U.S., some California vintners are producing Pinot Blanc with the same techniques used to make expensive Chardonnay, including new oak and malolactic fermentation. We're not convinced that this is the best way to showcase the grape, and lean more towards the wines being made in Oregon. Here, vinification techniques more closely follow the model established in Alsace, with fermentation in stainless steel or older oak leading to wines that are rich and smoky. Consider wines from Amity Vineyards and Elk Cove.
Pair Pinot Blanc with poultry, seafood, and pork.