Portland, OR Leahjorgensencellars.com
About Leah Jørgensen Cellars
Leah Jorgensen is a fifteen-year wine industry veteran making expressive interpretations of France’s Loire Valley wines centered around Cabernet Franc grown in Southern Oregon.
“I focus on site selection, first, working almost exclusively with vineyards in the Rogue and Applegate Valleys, save for a small lot of Gamay Noir coming from the up-and-coming region off of Perrydale Road near Salem in the Willamette Valley, and then I take a close look at what the vintage is giving me to determine how I will finesse each wine lot. I’m lucky to work with incredible growers who understand the significance of managing the vineyard to address the specific chemistries of Cabernet Franc I wish to enhance or limit – in particular, the levels of bell pepper, vegetal chemical compounds called methoxypyrazines. I’m after the softer, more fruit driven side of Cabernet Franc, where the more savory qualities of the wine arise as secondary or tertiary components, and where the Loire expression of woody characters like sweet tobacco, cedar, smoke, and pencil shavings, and herbal notes of anise and tarragon also come through.”
Jorgensen’s career in the wine industry began in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, where she grew up. Her passion for the Loire Valley stemmed from her experience working for the wholesale company that represented Louis Dressner Selections, a fine wine importer based in New York. Leah sold these wines to international embassies, fine dining restaurants, and retail shops in the Nation’s Capital. She fondly remembers working the DC market with Joe Dressner and his extraordinary Loire Valley portfolio.
“I loved the Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur wines I used to sell. In particular, the cult classic ‘Clos Rougeard’ from Saumur-Champigny has always been my true north, as far as my winemaking style is concerned. That wine is arguably the best Cabernet Franc in the world.”
In 2004, Leah made her way out west to her father’s home state of Oregon. “Dad grew up on a small family farm just outside of Eugene. It seemed natural to return to my Oregon roots.”
Jorgensen started out working in national sales, marketing, and communication for pioneering wineries in the Pacific Northwest, first at Erath Vineyards, and through its sale to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, as well as at Adelsheim Vineyard. She began offering marketing consulting for a handful of wineries, including WillaKenzie Estate, Raptor Ridge, Le Cadeau, and R. Stuart & Co., while studying enology for two years at the Northwest Viticulture Center in Salem. She worked harvests at Anne Amie Vineyards and Alloro Vineyard, completed two years of cellar work at Shea Wine Cellars, while making plans for her own wine – debuting the 2011 vintage with an unusual choice – just a barrel’s worth of her now signature, limited Blanc de Cabernet Franc.
Her Blanc is the first commercial still white Cabernet Franc in the world, inspired by some of the Crémant de Loire bubbly made in blanc de noirstyle from Cabernet Franc juice without skin contact. The Blanc de Cabernet Franc has landed on the lists of top restaurants and has been the perfect introduction to her Cabernet Franc program.