by Vic Hubbard & Tim Johnson, The Co-op Wine Guys
On April 1, 1997, Moe and Flora Momtazi bought 496 acres of abandoned wheat fields just south of their home in McMinnville, Oregon, and established Momtazi Estates. By the end of the summer of 1999, over 120,000 grapevines had been grafted in greenhouses and planted in the vineyard. Upon purchase, the land had already been chemical-free for seven years, and the Momtazis have made certain to keep it that way by using intensive biodynamic farming methods.
The Momtazi Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is considered one of Oregon’s top vineyards.
Planted by Iranian immigrants Moe and Flora Momtazi in 1997 on 400-plus acres of abandoned wheat fields southwest of McMinnville, the Momtazi vineyard has become not only the origin of some of the most sought-after grapes in the valley, but a showcase for biodynamic and organic agriculture.
With the family history of farming and stewardship of the land learned over generations of family farming in Iran
With the family history of farming and stewardship of the land learned over generations of family farming in Iran, the Momtazis have been farming biodynamically from the day they planted the vineyard. This cosmological method of organic farming replaces chemical intervention with teas brewed from medicinal plants and compost from the estate. Nothing is brought in from outside as the farm is thought of as a closed system.
(from left) The Momtazi daughters—Naseem, Hannah, and Tahmiene—now run the vineyard, winery, and gorgeous tasting room and event venue in partnership with their parents Moe and Flora Momtazi.
Photos courtesy of maysara.com.
The Momtazi’s dedication to this mostly untested (at the time) method of viticulture has served as a role model and influence to many other growers both domestic and international. And, the proof is evident, not only in the quality of the grapes but in the low environmental impact.
While the Momtazis sell most of their grapes to many of Oregon’s most esteemed producers, they also produce wine under their own label: Maysara (Persian for winery). We have selected two Maysara wines to feature for the holidays. These are not only delicious additions to holiday meals, but make great gifts for wine lovers.
Learn more at maysara.com.
Maysara Arsheen Pinot Gris 2015
Demeter Certified Biodynamic, estate grown, Willamette Valley, Oregon. $16.95
Pinot gris has become Oregon’s signature white grape, but rarely do we see it made in this off-dry style. This old-world style is similar to the wines of the Alsace region of France. The beauty of this wine is its complexity. Fermented and aged in
egg-shaped concrete tanks, this wine has lemon balm-like richness. It seems to gravitate between slightly sweet and dry as diverse flavors and aromas emerge and seem to linger. Look for tropical components, guava, papaya, orange; tree fruit like nectarine and peach; and floral aspects such as marigold. Good base of minerality and acidity adds verve and counters the sweetness.
This wine lends itself to spicy foods. Thai or Indian dishes like curry for example. Also, this is a crowd pleasing wine with roasted chicken or turkey, rich seafood such as halibut or scallops, or try it with holiday ham.
Maysara 3° Pinot Noir 2015
Demeter Certified Biodynamic, estate grown, Willamette Valley, Oregon. $18.95.
Crafted by the Momtazi’s three daughters, who now run the day-to-day operation of the winery and vineyard, the beauty of this wine is its vibrancy. It is fresh and lively, and is pleasing and refreshing on the palate. This is a pinot with a bit of weight to it. Tannins and acidity are nicely integrated. Fruit aspects like bing cherry and strawberry, and floral and spice aspects like hibiscus and saffron are intertwined with hints of aromatics reminiscent of smoked meat.
This light-to-medium-bodied red is versatile with food. Try with wild salmon, mushroom dishes, poultry, cranberries, and light cheeses. Good with lighter foods, but pinot noir also does well with more substantial foods like grilled meats. The Momtazis even recommend it with curry.