Everyone familiar with Oregon Pinot Noir pretty much knows the story of how Oregon started being a wine growing region and the names of the players involved back in the early 1970s. The names David Lett, Dick Ponzi, Dick Erath, Myron Redford and others are synonymous with the beginnings of Oregon Pinot Noir. What may be less told in Oregon’s history is how a second wave of young, passionate and talented winemakers came onto the Oregon scene in the 1980s. An impressive number of those vintners not only defined a second generation in Oregon they bolstered the industry to such an extent through their desire and ability to not only push the quality of Oregon Pinot Noir ahead, to remain on the scene 20 years later but to also lay the ground work for a whole new generation of winemakers that should help push Oregon’s status further upward in the region, across the country and across the world. Names such as Ken Wright, Russ Rainey, Mark Vlossak, John Paul and Rollin Soles would be examples of folks that showed up in the 80s and remain leaders of the industry to this day. One of the names included on that list would be Patricia Green.
Her route was bit less traditional than many of these folks having started down in the Umpqua Valley in 1987. By 1990 she had worked her way up into Yamhill County to work harvest in 1990 and 1991 at Adelesheim. In 1993 she accepted the winemaking and general maanger duties at the newly begun Torii Mor Winery. Between 1993 and 1999 Torii Mor went from a 1,200 case unknown entity to a 6,000 case winery with one of the most solid reputations in the state for Pinot Noir. In 2000 she did something that basically had not been done up to that point by an established winemaker (but not owner-operator). She left and started her own winery. Since the initial vintage of Patricia Green Cellars in 2000 the winery has grown to approximately 10,000 cases in size dominated by single vineyard Pinot Noir production. No Oregon winery has received more 90+ scores on Pinot Noirs from the notoriously stingy critic Steve Tanzer of The International Wine Cellar.
In 1993 a random visit to a tasting room a winery called Autumn Wind resulted in the, at the time, relatively rare opportunity to work for a small, family-owned Oregon winery both in the winery and tasting room. Later in 1994 Myron Redford, owner of Amity Vineyards, convinced him to come out and work harvest. For free. Thus began the little adventure into the world of Oregon wineries.
From a background of growing up in a fishing village on the coast of south-central Maine and lobstering as a teenager, Jim moved to Oregon after a year of going to the U of O to run on the streets on which Steve Prefontaine ran. There was a 3 years stint at Bowdoin College in there as well, but, short of a diploma in 1988 from the upscale New England college, there is not a lot to be said about that period of time that in anyway relates to the Oregon wine industry.
The important part here is a case delivery by Patricia Green to Oregon Wines on Broadway in early 1995 (at that point owned by the next door neighbor of Jim). A chain of events ensued and a need at Torii Mor Winery for someone to work in the winery, run a wholesale and direct sales program, do all the books and financials as well as help define the direction of the winery in its early days with Patty was satisfied. For five years that went on quite nicely until the Valentine’s Day Massacre of 2000 when it all came to a screeching halt. On the same fateful day in 2000 that Patty turned in her keys to the front door of Torii Mor Jim did so as well.
Since that time the course of Patricia, Jim and Patricia Green Cellars has remained intertwined. The chance encounter with and subsequent work with the owners of Autumn Wind seven years prior led to the opportunity to have right of first refusal on the winery and vineyard that make up the home base for Patricia Green Cellars in Ribbon Ridge. The two winery principals have worked in tandem on every aspect of the winery that has defined it from vineyard sourcing and management, winemaking and style, direct to consumer sales, wholesale marketing in Oregon, national sales through a small but diverse group of independent distributors, personnel hiring, training and management, the mundane aspects of bookkeeping, licensing and all the internal infrastructure that people on the outside don’t see but is essential to the running of any business. Beyond this an intense interest in Burgundy and Oregon Pinot Noir and the detailed consumption thereof has led to a particularly keen sense of combinations of barrels for blending to maximize the characteristics of small portions of a wine in the overall blend of any given bottling.