New Wines, New Faces:
By Harvey Steiman
From Wine Spectator magazine, December 15, 2004 issue
Gary Andrus just couldn’t stay away from winemaking. After selling his shares of Napa’s Pine Ridge Winery and Oregon’s
Archery Summit as part of a divorce settlement in 2001, he was planning to teach at a university in New Zealand. Then, while visiting
his daughter in Oregon, he saw Lion Valley Vineyards.
“They had planted it 4,000 vines to the acre, just like they do in
Burgundy,” Andrus says, his voice rising in excitement.
“It was a diamond in the rough.”
Today, the fruit from those Pinot Noir vines goes into Andrus’ new
label, Gypsy Dancer. The winery is named after Andrus and
wife Christine’s first daughter; Gypsy was born in 2002, the same year in which the winery debuted.
“The building is designed to use gravity, and it’s small enough
that I don’t need a staff,” says Andrus, 57. “I can be the
guy I was when I started with Pine Ridge. And, frankly I got bored doing so little after I retired.”
Though Andrus signed a no-compete clause when he left his original wineries,
the agreement only limited the size of any future
start-ups. At 27 plantable acres, the Willamette Valley project was of permissable size.
After Andrus bought the (now renamed) vineyard in 2002, he barely had time
to drop some of the crop to limit yields before the harvest.
Still, the debut wine is notable for its richness and stylishness. Gypsy Dancer Pinot Noir Oregon Preview Cuvée Gary & Christine’s
Vineyard 2002 (91 points, $40, 690 cases) has crisp acidity to balance its plum and currant flavors.
Gypsy Dancer also made a Pinot Noir Oregon Yamhill Cuvée A & G
Estate Vineyard 2002 (92, $70, 220 cases) from an
established vineyard in the Red Hills of Dundee in which Andrus owns a stake. The beautifully textured wine drips with sweet plum,
blackberry and currant fruit.
The wines are not dissimilar from what Andrus made at Archery Summit, which
he and his then-wife Nancy founded in 1993
and made into one of Oregon’s premier labels.
After Gypsy Dancer’s first vintage, Andrus retrained the vines, which
were planted in 1997, to put out lower yields. His 2003
wines, tasted from barrel, show vivid, pure fruit and, even in that very ripe vintage, have finesse to go along with their power.
Gypsy Dancer also added a Pinot Noir from Stoller Vineyard in 2003, bringing
its total production to 2,500 cases.
And more is on the way, as Andrus has planted the remaining vineyard land, mostly to Pinot Noir. The winery also makes
several hundred cases of Pinot Gris, sold only in Oregon.
Andrus now divides his time between Oregon and New Zealand, where he moved
in 2002 with Christine. He has planted a
vineyard in Central Otago, a promising region for Pinot Noir in New Zealand.
Andrus is joyful when he talks about getting back to hands-on, small-scale
winemaking. “I was never the ‘front of the house’ guy,”
“I am the science guy.”
Originally printed in Wine Spectator magazine, December 15, 2004 issue