“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Susan Sokol Blosser said. And that was after a lifetime of hard decisions, beginning in the early 1970s, when Susan Sokol and her first husband, Bill Blosser, established Sokol Blosser Winery in Oregon, before Oregon had a viable wine industry. Hard decisions continued as she worked the vineyards and heavy equipment and, in 1991, became president of the winery. Then, in 2008, she tackled the hardest one of all. After a slow transition and without being pressured to do so, she resigned from the presidency and appointed her daughter, Alison, and son, Alex, co-presidents of the winery.
Today, 42 years after Susan and Bill planted their first vines, Oregon has 450 wineries, and Sokol Blosser is one of the most prominent. Not the largest — it made sure of that by cutting production — but simply one of the finest. Because most Oregon wineries produce Chardonnay, Sokol Blosser stopped and instead concentrates on Pinot Gris. Tasting its 2011 ($20) on a recent visit, I found it crisp and overflowing with freshness and fruitiness. Its Pinot Noir Estate Cuvée 2009 ($60), a Reserve-level wine, has dark berries in its aroma, fine structure and a long finish. The winery considers its Pinot Noir 2009 ($80) from its Goosepen Block vineyard its Grand Cru, and it is indeed an elegant wine — all berries with a bit of earthiness and ideal Pinot flavors.
And there is Evolution, two non-vintage blends that make up a majority of the winery’s production. The current white version, now in its 16th bottling, is lively with a tropical lushness ($15). Evolution Red, introduced two years ago, is a mélange of dark berries and spice with a smooth finish ($15).
Today, Susan volunteers as president of the Yamhill Enrichment Society, helping the community through innovative projects. The winery’s new, large tasting room opens this year. Alison, now 33, and Alex, 39, have proven the transition from first to second generation is a true success. And Dario, Alison’s 4-year-old son, says his favorite thing is playing in the vineyards. A third generation in the making?
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