Bill Blosser

Founder and Chairman, Sokol Blosser Winery

An urban planner and community advocate with a heart of gold, Bill was an instrumental part of shaping Oregon’s robust wine country. He was one of the first pioneers to earmark the land for agricultural use in the ’70s helping preserve thousands of acres of land for winemaking. An active participant in the founding of the Oregon Winegrowers Association, Bill would go on to pave the way for what would eventually become a $3 billion dollar industry, serving on the Oregon Wine Board, the Yamhill County Wineries Association and the International Pinot Noir Festival.

His love of the land and desire to preserve it led to the creation of Sokol Blosser, an Oregon-based winery known for its green sustainability practices. Bill’s our favorite sustainability champion, a true friend of the earth who isn’t afraid to set out where no man’s been before. He defined the Oregon pinot noir varietal among the best outside of Burgundy. If you’ve ever stopped to savor a glass—rife with powerful berry notes, bright bursts of acidity and a soft tannin profile—you already know Bill Blosser.

Why We Love Bill Blosser

Bill is one of the wine pioneers of the Willamette Valley. Thousands of wines have been produced thanks to his efforts, and he just won't stop.

“I didn’t start to be a pioneer. We were just thinking, ‘this is something we love to do, this is something we need to try.’”

“I had always had a desire to do something in agriculture, to grow something...and then we discovered the Willamette Valley would be the ideal place to grow pinot noir in the United States.”

6 Questions with Bill Blosser

  1. What sets Sokol Blosser apart from other wineries?

    A few things. First, we're one of the first wineries that got started in the '70s. Second, we're one of the only that is still owned and operated by the same family that started it—there are only three of us left. We own virtually all our own vineyards for our main wines. All of our vineyards are certified organic, and we use organic practices in our winemaking.

  2. How does your background in urban planning relate to Oregon Wine?

    Back in the 70s, David Adelsheim and I saw that if there was any hope for preserving cultural land for vineyards, we needed to influence what happened in that kind of urban plan. We made a system of identifying prime vineyard lands in the Willamette Valley. We created a map of and distributed it to planning departments all over the Valley, and most of them adopted it. So it resulted in the preservation of tens of thousands of acres that were ideal for vineyards.

  3. What do you think led to the success of the wine industry in the valley?

    We knew the industry was never going to make it if we all didn’t work together. We were driven by the need to be cooperative and support each other, to share information. Because as a new industry starting out that needed a lot of help, it wasn’t going to work if each person tried to do it by themselves.

  4. How has your experience in Oregon shaped the wine industry?

    I thank my lucky stars every day because the people in Oregon were so supportive when we started out. If we didn’t have the markets here we wouldn’t have survived. But Oregon really rallied around us, they kept us going.

  5. What’s your secret to a great Pinot?

    We couldn’t just take what they had done in California or Europe and directly apply it, because there are so many differences, so we had to experiment and learn. We adapted a variety of techniques from Germany, France, from California, and tried a number of different things. I think the key has been to find the best vineyards, ripen the grapes to their best flavor, and then handle them as gently as possible in the winery.

  6. How has Sokol Blosser changed as it's transitioned to its next generation?

    I think Alex, Alison and Nik have brought in a lot of energy and new ideas and creativity that has made the whole visitors' experience really lively and exciting—and they have improved the wines!

New Zealand with Bill Blosser

One Departure Only | January 6 - 13, 2020

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