Blame it on my Anthropology undergrad work, but I have written that, still feeling fairly new to the wine industry, I often feel like Margaret Mead, looking in on and trying to understand the behaviour of some lost tribe. As a participating observer having now lived 6 years among “the people,” things still baffle me, and I like to wonder why.
No matter how hard I tried the other day, it seemed I could not shake that Chateau following behind. Sam and I were off that day from Portland to the Willamette Valley, to pick up some of our wine at Oregon Wine Services (very nice people) in McMinnville, and en route, I had the best chuckle: a Chateau on wheels. It was just a camper, but how funny to see a “Chateau” traveling through Oregon’s best-known wine country. It’s apropros in a way, you know, how wine and chateaus like to go hand-in-hand here in the USA? As if a chateau is some marker of what, authenticity? Prestige? The “Old Country”?
I always say, “Only two letters separate ‘arrogance’ from ‘ignorance,’ meaning, in my pointy head, there’s not much that differentiates the two words. Don’t get me wrong, I like chateaus just like the rest of us romantic souls, but only when they’re the real deal, LIKE IN FRANCE, or GERMANY or some other country where the provenance is legitimate, and not some contrived artifice used for marketing. Which, c’mon, it is.
Not that there are many chateaus in the Willamette Valley, if there are any at all—things seem pretty real down that way on the physical landscape of rolling, verdure hills, and tucked away places. On the brand landscape there might be a few; a quick Google search turned up Chateau Lorane (no picture of a chateau, though); Chateau Bianca (again, no image of a chateau), and Chateau Benoit (not clear if a chateau is really there, either, since all I found was a label, and no chateau on that).
Up Washington way there are some actual chateaus, as well as “chateau” brands. Chateau Ste. Michelle would be the acting queen of Washington castles and brands, the oldest wine biz up there. Then there’s Chateau Champoux, but I don’t get a sense that there’s an actual chateau on the premise. Nor at Chateau Rollat’s. Things look more promising for Le Chateau Winery, since that’s what the “under construction” website suggests. There is a chateau up on La Montagne Rouge (all this chateau talk is making the French come out of me, sorry), as we all know, one of the founding partners having connections direct to la France (there it is again). But all these other chateaus, I just don’t get. We’re not France! Two years ago I was still wondering about all this chateau stuff, but more with a peek into Cali, and here’s the post I wrote, if you’re interested.
Anyway, we don’t have a chateau on our hill, and have no plans for one. But what we DO have is something we like to refer to as the “Campeau” (or “LE Campeau,” if we’re feeling very French), so we might fit in a little out there in the wilds of the wine world.
It’s not even a Chateau, like the one cruising so close behind the other day, it’s a Komfort (that’s right, with a K). “And it’s paid for,” Scott pipes in, “as of this week.” And klassy, in its own, krazy way, I might add. I wonder what Margaret would say.