Tyee Wine Cellars featured in Travel and Leisure Magazine October 2011 Willamette Valley's Boutique Vineyards by Bruce Schoenfeld
"One afternoon I drove to see Merrilee Buchanan Benson at Tyee Wine Cellars, an under-the-radar property founded by her parents, who first planted grapes in the valley back in 1974. We sat under 400-year-old oaks, ate a picnic lunch, and drank a 1999 Pinot Noir. It was salmon-colored, typical of light-bodied Pinots with some age, and unobtrusive. Yet each time I took a sip, it had gained richness and body and character, as great Burgundies characteristically do. I know people who’d fly across the Atlantic to taste just such a wine, but they overlook the Willamette because bottles like that one never reach their doorstep. And besides wine professionals, the only person I know who has ever visited Tyee, a good 20 minutes from the bulk of the valley’s wineries, is ... me.
Now 37, Buchanan Benson became the winemaker in 2006, after two decades of modest success for Tyee. She’d studied enology and had her own ideas, so she stopped using oak for the Chardonnay to help the fruit shine through, and started harvesting Pinot Noir in three passes to make sure all the berries were ripe. She cut production nearly in half because she didn’t want any grapes that weren’t grown on her family’s property. “I come from this farm,” she said, “and I’m excited about having people experience it.”