Andy McVay was promoted in 2017 to lead the winemaking at Dobbes Family Estate. The Oregon State University graduate in food and fermentation science first landed at Dobbes in 2008 as part of the Wine By Joe team. (Dobbes Family Estate)

Andy McVay was promoted in 2017 to lead the winemaking at Dobbes Family Estate. The Oregon State University graduate in food and fermentation science first landed at Dobbes in 2008 as part of the Wine By Joe team. (Dobbes Family Estate)

Northwest Wine: Dobbes Family Estate continues tradition of excellence

His name is still on the bottle, as well as many cans, and because Joe Dobbes placed the right people in charge, the winery and brands he created continue to succeed in downtown Dundee, Oregon, and beyond.

In 2017, Dobbes publicly mapped out his retirement from Dobbes Family Estate and Wine by Joe. As a result, Gretchen Boock — Dobbes’ first hire back in 2002 — was promoted to CEO. Andy McVay, who arrived in 2008, moved up into the head winemaking position.

Combined, they produce more than 200,000 cases of Oregon wine, pulling from both the Willamette and Rogue valleys, including Seabreeze Estate Vineyard, a 214-acre planting just west of the Eola-Amity Hills in the recently established Van Duzer Corridor American Viticultural Area. Two years ago came the Joe To Go canned wine project.

Dobbes and his talent helped raise the profile of Willamette Valley Vineyards, and his work in southern Oregon for the sister Griffin Creek label created relationships that have endured. That’s why syrah, viognier and grenache blanc from the Rogue Valley remain part of the Dobbes Family Estate portfolio.

The ability to scale up production led to the creation of Wine by Joe, remarkably priced examples of pinot noir, pinot gris, pinot blanc, chardonnay and rose that are made with fruit from both ends of Oregon as the labels and cans so proudly display. That’s why they appear on the bottle — or can — with “Oregon” listed as the American Viticultural Area.

Dobbes Family Estate remains the luxury brand, which is focused on single vineyards and AVA cuvee wines.

McVay’s responsibilities include wines named for the three people who are most important to Joe — wife Patricia Dobbes, daughter Amelia and son Griffin. Ameila joined the Dobbes Family Estate marketing team in 2018 after graduating from Oregon State University. The Corvallis school has been a pipeline for Dobbes with both Boock and McVay as proud graduates.

Dobbes Family Estate and Wine By Joe are within the portfolio of Bacchus Capital Management, a group based in the Bay Area that invests in family-owned wineries and wine businesses in the U.S. In 2017, Dobbes, a rather silent part-owner in the empire he built, launched a post-retirement business — Dundee Mobile Bottlers, whose motto is “For winemakers by winemakers.”

During blind-tastings staged during the winter, Dobbes Family Estate earned an invitation to pour its wines at the 34th annual International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville. Organizers decided to postpone rather than cancel the lineup, so Dobbes will be part of the program in 2021.

Here are several Dobbes wines that our panels have judged blind and enjoyed in recent months. Some can be found at regional grocers and bottle shops or they can be ordered from the winery.

Dobbes Family Estate 2018 Grand Assemblage Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $30: Six sites in the Willamette Valley factor into this flagship pinot noir for Dobbes that captures the youthful promise many winemakers see from their 2018s. Blueberry cola, dried cherry, dark strawberry and chai spices help describe the aromas. Blueberry and pomegranate flavors expand the profile, which comes with cola, vanilla and lasting juiciness. Enjoy with smoked ham, cedar-planked salmon or soft and mild cheeses.

Dobbes Family Estate 2017 Vista Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, $67: Grapes from the Dundee Hills rank among the most coveted in Oregon, and the profile of this vineyard skyrocketed in 2018 when movie director/winery owner Francis Ford Coppola bought the 42-acre property. Dobbes winemaker Andy McVay turned his lot into eight barrels of a wine that’s suave and pleasing, starting with aromas of blueberry jam, black cherry, fresh-ground nutmeg and moist earth. It’s supple, juicy and fleshy as blueberries and cherries mix with elegance, capped by orange zest in the finish. Suggested pairings include grilled meats, foie gras and soft cheese.

Dobbes Family Estate 2017 Grand Assemblage Syrah, Rogue Valley, $30: Fortmiller and Sundown vineyards, overseen by the Moore family in southern Oregon, have been part of Dobbes’s resources for years. This is unmistakable syrah, starting with its fascinating nose of wild game, black fruit and gun metal. The flavor combination of blueberry and pomegranate make for a big, juicy and racy drink that’s ideal for barbecue fare and smoked Gouda.

Wine By Joe 2016 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $19: Joe Dobbes launched this second label following the recession after the 9/11 attacks to help get Oregon pinot noir into more hands at an affordable price. Rather than declassified juice, his disciples now can pull from Seabreeze Estate Vineyard, a 214-acre estate site in the Van Duzer Corridor. And it’s rare to find a pinot noir that’s as easy to get into as this price. Black cherry jam, blueberry, baking spice and freshly sliced mushroom help describe the aromas. There’s more cherry jam and pink strawberry on the palate, as raspberry and red currant add succulence ahead of a finishing lick of lavender and Simpkin Blackcurrant Travel Sweets.

Joe to Go NV Rosé, Oregon, $7: Wine by Joe continues to grow into the canned space with its Joe to Go brand. Pinot noir and pinot gris both play roles in this brisk and refreshing rosé that is surprisingly bone-dry in its approach and Provence in its appearance. Aromas of strawberry shortcake, white peach and tangerine lead to mouthwatering flavors of pink raspberry and strawberry-rhubarb compote. Joe to Go is available in more than 30 states.

Eric Degerman operates Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at

Talk to us

More in Life

The Gothard Sisters will perform at the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater on Sept. 19 in Snohomish. From left, Greta, Solana and Willow Gothard. (Ruth Vanden Bos)
Edmonds’ Gothard Sisters return to stage with new original music

The trio’s songs include one inspired by an Old West legend. You can hear them Sept. 19 in Snohomish.

Quinn Fitzgerald
New hosts take the reins at Everet’s weekly comedy showcase

Adam Tiller and Quinn “Lil’ Q” Fitzgerald now host the Monday-night stand-up sessions at Tony V’s in Everett.

Andy Bronson / The Herald
The Tokyo Classic burger is the most popular menu item at Katsu Burger, because it’s the most like an American burger, business owner Hannah Ha says.
Now you can make Katsu Burger’s best-selling burger at home

Chef-owner Hannah Ha of the Lake Stevens store says the Tokyo Classic is the most popular menu item.

A tray of grilled delights; clockwise from top right, Cheeseburgers, Mustard-Lime Steak, Tandoori Chicken, and Grilled Asparagus With Olive Oil and Parmesan, on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. (Colter Peterson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)
Make it count: We have one last weekend of summertime grilling

There’s still time for you to grill asparagus, cheeseburgers, tandoori chicken and mustard lime steaks.

Chicken thighs braised in hard cider with Brussels sprouts and apples makes an easy one-pan fall dinner. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Eat This: Cider-braised chicken with apples and Brussels sprouts

Braising the chicken in hard cider — the alcohol cooks off — amplifies its seasonal flavor and adds a subtle sweetness.

Cathy Richardson is lead vocalist of Jefferson Starship, which is scheduled to perform Sept. 17 at the Historic Everett Theatre. (Associated Press)
All about music: Schedule of concerts around Snohomish County

The listings include Sir Mix-a-Lot, ZZ Top and Bands, Brews and Bowling at Evergreen Lanes in Everett.

Ian Terry / The Herald

Christa and Richard Porter, of The Porters, play a set at the Black Lab Gallery during the Fisherman's Village Music Festival in Everett on Friday, March 31, 2017.

Photo taken on 03312017
Where to hear live music in Snohomish County nightclubs

The listings include Engel’s Pub, Mirkwood Public House and Port Gardner Bay Winery shows.

Red Curtain
Oscar Madison, played by Joe Goins, left, annoys Felix Unger, portrayed by Thomas A. Glass, in Red Curtain’s production of “The Odd Couple,” showing through Sept. 26 at the Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville.
Oscar Madison, played by Joe Goins, left, annoys Felix Unger, portrayed by Thomas A. Glass, in Red Curtain’s production of “The Odd Couple,” showing through Sept. 26 at the Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville. (Red Curtain)
Theater, dance and comedy shows around Snohomish County

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

The 2022 Kia Carnival has front-wheel drive, three rows, and placing for seven or eight passengers, depending on seat configuration. (Kia) 20210913
Kia replaces Sedona minivan with all-new 2022 Carnival MPV

Do similarities to the brand’s current boxy SUVs justify the new nomenclature? Kia says yes.

Most Read