Oregon Wine Country, Part 3: All in the Familia

I knew the gods were smiling on me the day I married Señor Jim. You see, his familia hails from the Pacific Northwest, land of the Pike Place Market, birthplace of Nordstrom, breeding ground for some of the world’s most delectable salmon, and home to two wine-producing states. Oh, and he’s a pretty fine hombre, too.

Oregon boasts 16 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), or officially recognized wine grape growing regions.

So earlier this year when he told me his cousins were planning a September family reunion in Oregon’s premier wine region, the Willamette Valley, I thought it would be fun to finally get to meet some more of his family, and try some smaller label Oregon Pinot Noirs. But when I learned that two of his relatives actually made small label Oregon wines, I knew I’d hit the Spouse Super Lotto.

As it turns out, Jim’s cousin Brenda worked in the wine industry for more than 25 years, both in California and Oregon. And Brenda happens to be the proud mother of not one but two winemaking sons, Stirling and Christian.

Brenda’s son, Stirling (photo: Mad Violets Company).

Stirling Button Fox is the proprietor of  Mad Violets Wine Company, where his lovely wife, Kelly Kidneigh, is the official winemaker (Girl Power!).

Kelly, the winemaker at Mad Violets (Photo: Mad Violets Company)

Mad Violets is a family business in every sense, including its moniker, which is a mash-up of the names of Stirling’s two daughters, Madeleine and Violet. Fort-five percent of the grapes in the 2009 Pinot Noir come from the couple’s own vineyard, Buttonfield Estate (careful readers will note that Button is a family name), and 100 percent of the grapes in the 2010 Pinot Gris are also from the estate.

What’s a family reunion without family-made vino?

Both the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris display classic characteristics. I personally loved the minerality of the Pinot Gris, and the Pinot Noir’s gorgeous strawberry notes were a hit at the reunion dinner. If you like your vino with peach and honey aromas, the 2011 Riesling is a winner. These grapes are sourced from the oldest Riesling vineyard in Yamhill county.

One of the things I adore about Jim’s family is how warm, open and genuine they are. This blog post would rival a García Márquez novel in length if I were to acknowledge each and every one of them for their hospitality and kindness during our five-day Oregon wine county odyssey.

So let me acknowledge one cousin whom I got to meet for the first time, the one whose newsy Christmas letters I’ve had the pleasure of reading in the 12 years Señor Jim and I have been together, and the one without whom today’s post literally would have been impossible.

Brenda with her fabuloso cousin, Señor Jim.

Brenda, thank you for sharing your love of wine and passion for life with us, not to mention your enormous heart.

And to the entire Button clan (I’m looking at YOU, Carolyn, Diane, Jeanie, Carlee, and your wonderful hombres), I raise a glass to you. ¡Salud!

10 thoughts on “Oregon Wine Country, Part 3: All in the Familia

  1. That Riesling sounds DIVINE! What a fun trip and how amazing that they make some fantastic sounding wine. Thanks for sharing… and hopefully one day I’ll get some of that vino!

  2. Nice coverage of Oregon and the Pinots. One place you shouldn’t miss is Soter Vineyards. The winemaker Tony Soter is a friend of the family and a fellow “Greek”, which makes this Griega, very proud.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Mary-Kay! Next time I’m up there I’ll have to visit Soter Vineyards. ¡Salud!

  3. Wow! Isn’t that just perfect for you, my wine connoisseur friend! If I am ever out that way, I will have to keep an eye out for Mad Violet goodness… 🙂

  4. Thank you for your kind words about our fantastic family. The highlite of the trip, getting to know you and now look forward to being together again. I will be forwarding this blog address to other family members….love ya Carolyn

    1. Hi Carolyn! Thank you so much for reading and for all of the work you put into making the reunion such a fun and memorable event! It was great to be able to spend time with you again after so many years. You are such a delightful, kind person and I feel truly lucky to have been able to meet all of the Button clan. I hope to see you again soon!

  5. Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you got to try the 2009 Mad Violets before it was all gone! We’re just now releasing the 2010 Pinot Noir and if you ever want to try it, give us a call. Thanks again!

  6. Hi Pamela! My industrious assistant found this fabulous blog online! I would have checked it out sooner, but I’ve only just crawled out of the cellar after an amazing harvest. Thank you so much for the kind words! It was delightful meeting you and I look forward to the next time we can get together and share some good wine. I love your blog; you’re an excellent writer, I’ll be checking in regularly!

    1. Hi, Kelly! It’s great to hear from you and I’m glad you had a successful harvest. It was a pleasure meeting you – I’m loving your wine! Take care and hope to see you again in the not-too-distant future. Cheers!

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