Couple in concert
Patrick Reuter and Leigh Bartholomew are a married couple who did what many of us look back over our lives and say, "I wish I'd done that."
An Oregon-born boy, Reuter had never lived anywhere else. She, on the other hand, was a Navy brat, who grew up in ports around the world.
Bartholomew's father, who rose to the rank of captain over the course of his career, took the family to far-flung places including London. She spent her high school years at the American school there.
After graduation, she chose to attend the University of Oregon because her grandparents lived in Reedsport, just 60 miles from Eugene, and the area had always held a certain allure.
She didn't discover the "most" alluring component of her life, however, until she was ensconced in a dorm on the sprawling Eugene campus. "I looked out the window one day, saw this cute red-headed guy ride by on a bike, and said to myself, 'He's going to be my boyfriend.' "
Bartholomew is obviously a woman who gets what she wants, because it wasn't long before the two were dating. They had became as close as a couple can get by the time they graduated in 1992.
Then they actually did what everybody talks about doing, but very few actually do. "We decided to take off and experience a bit of the world," Bartholomew said.
Their first stop was Yokohama, Japan, where her father was stationed. "We taught English there for almost eight months and traveled all over the country," she said.
As for the development of thei interest in wine, Reuter said, "We had gone to some wine tastings together at Sundance Cellars in Eugene while we were at the U of O, so we knew we liked wine. But we weren't really into it yet."
That came when they returned from Japan and settled in Seattle for awhile to get their bearings before moving on once again.
Reuter went to work as a paralegal at a cancer research center. Bartholomew found a job in a classy restaurant, which, no surprise, had an exceptionally good wine list.
During their two and one half years in the Emerald City, the wine bug latched onto them and wouldn't let go.
They helped out with harvest at the nearest winery they could find — Andrew Will, on Vashon Island, west of Seattle on Puget Sound. The ferry rides were frequent.
Wanting to go to the University of California at Davis, Bartholomew took wine-related pre-requisite classes at Seattle Central Community College and did lab work at the University of Washington.
Having taken the big step in August 1996, with a full-blown family wedding at McMenamin's Edgefield in Troutdale, the newlyweds were ready for another life adventure.
Both of them applied to enter the internationally acclaimed viticulture and enology program at UC-Davis, and both were accepted.
But they had more than half a year to kill before the next program slots opened up. It didn't take them long to determine that the best thing to do was head south — way south.
It was harvest time in the Southern Hemisphere, and the most exciting places in the emerging world of wine were the longest and narrowest nation on the planet — Chile — and the most southerly — New Zealand.
A whirlwind of wine activity ensued, during which the couple experienced the explosive growth occurring in valleys north and south of Santiago as well as the sauvignon blanc mania sweeping Marlboro, at the north end of South Island.
While in Chile, they were tasked to run an entire winery on their own. They only had four workers, none of whom spoke English.
"We put an idled facility back into operation to handle a bumper harvest," Bartholomew said. "Otherwise, the grapes would have gone to waste."
Reuter said, "We had to figure everything out for ourselves. Somehow we managed to make it work."
The down-under learning experience behind them, they returned stateside to immerse themselves in the two-year program at Davis. Grape growing engrossed Bartholomew, while Reuter specialized in soils.
In 1999, Mondavi in the nearby Napa Valley and Z-D in Sonoma beckoned the newly minted master's degree holders for a time. Then the urge to travel overtook them once again.
It was off to Vietnam, India and Russia, then on to the Burgundy region to work the harvest in the vaunted wine village of Gevrey-Chambertin.
The French vintage under their belts, they returned to Oregon in 2000. Staying with Reuter's parents in Salem, the Yamhill Valley became the focus of their search for wine-related work.
Reuter found a spot at Rex Hill and Bartholomew found herself in the family way. Nearly simultaneous with the birth of their first son, Finegan, in 2002, she landed a vineyard management position at Archery Summit.
With the need to finally settle down, they put themselves on a new path. She would continue in what was turning out to be a very rewarding position at Archery Summit, while he would look after their son and launch their own wine brand.
That year a succession of events put the new winery venture on its upward path. The Columbia Gorge fit into the plan, as did an association with Carlton Winemakers Studio.
The name they selected, Dominio IV, reflects a bit of whimsy and Old World style intertwined with serendipitous symbolism based on fours.
A labyrinth, with its four quadrants, is incorporated into the label design. They make their wines from four grape varieties. The year has four seasons. Dominio IV wines are released four times a year.
Oh, yes. And the Reuter/Bartholomew family now consists of four people. Patrick, Leigh, Finegan and Quincy, their second son, who was born in 2005.
Their own vineyard had been part of the couple's calculations for some time. A predominantly southeast-facing, 37-acre piece of land near Mosier, Oregon proved to be a perfect fit.
After close inspection of the site, aspect and, especially, as it's Reuter's passion, terroir, they determined 15 acres was suitable for wine grapes.
Meantime, recently retired U.S. Navy Captain Glenn Bartholomew and his wife, Liz, decided to visit the couple, not to mention see their grandchild for the first time. Before they knew it, they found themselves living in a double-wide trailer at the vineyard site, which their daughter and son-in-law had dubbed Three Sleeps.
But there would be no snoozing for these retirees. Not only were they turned into vineyardists, they also become the hosts of a new B & B that went up on the property.
They agreed to adhere to the couple's requirement that farming be carried out according to the stringent, holistic principles of biodynamics that merged ecology and sustainability.
Many Oregon wineries follow organic practices, but only a handful have the patience and dedication to faithfully employ the uncompromising Demeter International standards for biodynamics.
Originally proposed by Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner in 1924, this approach to agriculture is intensive and demanding. But adherents are convinced of its enhanced value for the land and the crops it brings forth.
Thus far, eight acres have been planted to tempranillo, viognier and syrah. One acre, by the way, is laid out like a labyrinth.
Fruit for their fourth variety, pinot noir, is sourced from selected Yamhill Valley sites. All of them are planted in standard configurations.
Special lots come their way from Archery Summit, of course, owing to Bartholomew's watchful eye, which oversees every row and vine that yields grapes for her employer's wine.
Additionally, Stermer, Bella Vida and Maresh vineyards contribute the Burgundian grape to wines that bear such names as "Love Lies Bleeding" and "A Monk's Amble."
If imaginative names stimulate the mind of a poet, then Reuter has found his muse — The Arrow and The Berry Tempranillo, You Write in Wine Syrah, Still Life Viognier, Spellbound Syrah/Tempranillo blend and Technicolor Bat Tempranillo/Syrah blend.
He even has his expressive words printed on the labels, quipping, "People are paying to read my writing every time they buy a bottle."
So, if you want to read some, you'll have to buy some. And that some has increased ten-fold over the course of 10 years. Dominio IV's initial production in 2002 was 350 cases. In 2012 it will be 3,500 cases.
The Dominio IV Tasting Room is located at 845 N.E. 5th St. in the Granary District. It is open 12 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
To arrange an appointment or book a tasting for groups larger than eight, please e-mail email@example.com or call 503-474-8636.
Karl Klooster can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 503-687-1227.