Best Year Ever

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Celebrating 50 years interview
Our Story

As a long-time connoisseur of French Burgundy, Dr. Donald Olson set out on a journey to create world-class wine in his beloved state of Oregon. In 1993, he founded Torii Mor as a tribute to his late son, Leif. With its roots in the forefront of Oregon’s wine industry, Olson Estate Vineyard, planted in 1972, is one of the oldest vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Sitting high in the Dundee Hills Appellation at 800 feet on just under ten acres of Pinot Noir, the fruit of Olson Estate was the main focus of Torii Mor’s first vintage. From its modest beginnings in 1993 of no more than 1,000 cases, Torii Mor has matured into an ultra-premium producer of Pinot Noir with an annual production of 15,000 cases.

Since its beginnings in Burgundy, Pinot Noir has long been considered one of the most terrior expressive varieties of grape. This strong tie to the earth was something Dr. Olson wanted to convey when he decided on a name for his new venture. Borrowing from the Japanese, “Torii” refers to the ornate gates often seen at the entrances of gardens. “Mor,” meaning earth, was then chosen as homage to Dr. Olson’s Scandinavian heritage. By joining these two distinct languages, the name Torii Mor and a romantic image of a beautiful gate to the earth was created.

Late in 2004, Jacques Tardy joined Torii Mor as head winemaker. With his Burgundian heritage and five generations of winemakers in his family history, Jacques brought the experience and style for which Torii Mor is now recognized. With a keen focus on structure and balance, the elegance of Jacques’ wines has branded Torii Mor as one of the top-ranked producers of Pinot Noir in the United States.

With the completion of its LEED Gold Certified winery in 2007, Torii Mor has shown that it not only has a commitment to making world-class wines, but also to preserving the earth it depends on for its success. By making ecologically smart choices and farming organically in its LIVE Certified vineyard, Torii Mor is not only building a sustainable business, but a harmonious relationship with the earth. Don continues to be involved in all aspects of the company as General Manager and CEO.

Jacques Tardy – Winemaker

Jacques Tardy joined the Torii Mor team as head winemaker late in 2004. As a native of Nuits Saint Georges in Burgundy, France, Jacques brings five generations of winemaking heritage to the table. Trained in Viticul- ture and Enology at the prestigious Lycee Viticole de Beaune, Tardy migrated to California in 1982. By 1990, he had worked his way up to the blossoming wine region of the Willamette Valley. In the fall of 2004, Jacques came on with Torii Mor to fulfill his desire to make world-class Pinot Noir. Since then, Jacques’ wines have earned numerous accolades and have helped brand Torii Mor as one of the most accomplished producers of Burgundian style Pinot Noir. With an emphasis on elegance and restraint, Jacques’ style of winemaking embodies the concept of terrior.

“Through this Torii Mor, this Earth gate, we step, to make glad the soul, with wine”