Echo’s little secret: Sno Road Winery

An employee from Sno Road Winery smiles while working.

I’ve been all over this country. And when I say “all over,” I mean lots and lots of places. But, one of my very favorite places to be is in the little, quiet town of Echo.

Most of the folks I talk with in my day to day life don’t even know the town exists. They drive right by it heading to Boise or Portland or Seattle. Usually they’re going way too fast to even notice the exit signs pointing toward the town. I guess that’s what makes Echo special. If you’re going fast, you’re probably not a good fit anyway.

In the center of town is a little building next to a beautiful garden. In that building are the offices of Echo West Vineyard and Sno Road Winery.  Lloyd and Lois Piercy have owned the building for a number of years. It has served them well. Decorated with artifacts from travels they’ve had around the globe, and punctuated by old doors and furniture that serve to catch the eye and the imagination, the offices are both rustic and beautiful.

The Piercys are brilliant, hard-working folks. Part of their hard work over these past 40 years has been Echo West Vineyard. Overlooking the Umatilla River not far from downtown Echo, the vineyard has become increasingly famous for producing amazing wines. The grapes are outsourced to many award winning wineries in the region including Bergevin Lane and Maryhill.

Over the past five or so years, I’ve been in contact with Lloyd Piercy about a few barrels of juice that he was aging for his own winery. When he called me a few weeks ago, I was so excited to hear that he was officially open for business.

The winery boasts several amazing labels of wines. All of them very short-run. All of them very exquisite. All of them very reasonably priced for the quality of juice in the bottle.

The three bottles that were open for me to taste were the 2008 Orange Muscat, the 2006 Sno Road Amity Pinot Noir and the 2007 2B Cabernet Sauvignon.

Don’t let the words Orange Muscat fool you. This wine is bone dry, with less than 1 percent residual sugar. The nose is explosively floral and fragrant. Orange blossoms literally jump out of the glass. The flavors are crisp and brilliant, with light citrus and floral overtones.

The 2007 Amity Pinot Noir is a beautiful ruby color. It’s aromas and flavors are multi-layered with cherry, pomegranate, mint, sage and cola flavors. The finish is long and supple. This wine would pair well with salmon or venison, but I think I’ll just drink it alone so I can enjoy all of its qualities.

2B Cabernet Sauvignon is named after the block of grapes from the Echo West Vineyard that it came from. The ground is rich with volcanic ash and sediment there, which intensifies the grapes greatly. A nose of black cherries, cinnamon and baking spices. Layers of dark cherry, cinnamon, cocoa and cassis. This is a Cabernet drinker’s Cabernet. Yum!

If you want to experience Sno Road, I suggest you get there. The winery is open Friday evenings for tasting from 4-7 p.m., or until the last guest leaves. They also are available by appointment by calling 541-376-0421. You can also order wines by going to www.snoroadwinery.com.

Enjoy!

Rich Breshears, the East Oregonian’s wine columnist, is a commercial photographer and marketing consultant for the wine industry in Oregon and Washington. He lives with his family in Kennewick, Wash. You can reach him by e-mail at photos999@charter.net

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