I am making wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It is that simple. My passion for wine began in the hills and valleys that have surrounded me my entire life. Everyone’s story is different and important, but the Idealist story is a passion for making wines from a place I call home.
From the high Cascade peaks to the coast, Oregon is a flavor all its own. Rivers cut deep, crisscrossing and molding the landscape. Small, rural towns dot every corner of the state. In the heart of wine country, the Willamette Valley, the landscape is green, lush, verdant and truly picturesque. Its people are kind, resourceful, and freethinking. Our largest city, Portland, has a smattering of fine dinning and specialty shops that highlight our fresh and plentiful ingredients. Oregon is a special place so I work to capture Oregon’s uniqueness, its essence, and place it in a bottle.
The vineyards in the Willamette Valley are generally situated on the outskirts of small towns. Many of these vineyards were once farms, forests or orchards. To get to most of these vineyards one has to drive back roads twisting and turning through fields of grains, orchards, tree nurseries, and woods. Each year new vineyards are planted. As vineyard acreage continues to expand, we are still realizing our vineyard potential. The roots of our vines are growing deeper giving more distinct flavor to our wines. Oregon’s vineyard potential is exciting for winemakers and wine lovers.
I once heard we live what we know. As a young man, I entered Oregon’s wine industry and learned how to make Pinot Noir. I was lucky. My teachers had all gained a level of success that I call “living the dream”. Making wine is their job not their hobby. I learned different techniques from different technicians but they came from experience and understanding. I combined the methods I like and added some of my own. At Idealist Wines we make wine with one part ingenuity, one part necessity, and two parts experience. While the techniques are flexible the style is distinctly Oregon.
Oregon is my home and a place that I deeply respect. I am proud to share a piece of home by making wines from Oregon. Oregon has a special something that makes its wines interesting and relevant. We have a distinct land and winemaking style. We continue to build our tradition and experience. However, those who wish to recreate Napa Valley, Burgundy, or anyplace else have the wrong motivations. Our wines are a reflection of Oregon. We can and should admire and take inspiration from other wine growing regions but never sell ourselves short. We are separate and we must show pride in our difference.
John Lyon, Winemaker