La Randonnée Wines: From Oregon to Ireland and Back
Kevin Green has been on a never-ending quest whether it’s to solve a technical puzzle or to demystify a grape varietal—it’s a curiosity about life that keeps him going.
Growing up in Colorado, he loved the outdoors, working as a wrangler and a ranch hand; Mother Nature was always at the forefront—the open skies, the solitude of nature, the peacefulness of the great wide open. Contrast that with his technical acumen, love for solutions and deconstructing the way things work, Green graduated with a degree in engineering yet the outdoors still called his name. He relocated to Portland, Oregon for a new job right out of college—he knew very little about the area, but it was an entry point into wine. He took some winemaking classes and met some local vintners within the Willamette Valley community.
Yet Green still had an itch to see the world. An opportunity came up which allowed him to go overseas and work in Ireland. “As a very logical guy, I normally make very pros and cons types of decisions, but looking back, that isn’t how I’ve made the big, important decisions in my life,” said Green.
While in Ireland, a few life-altering events occurred— he met the love of his life—his wife, Clodagh, and experienced the world of wine firsthand as Ireland was a global import hub. His insatiable curiosity went off the charts as he tried different varieties from France, New Zealand, and South Africa. The exact same varieties tasted completely different. How is that possible? It was time for Kevin to engage the emotional part of his career and make a full-blown transition into the wine industry.
Kevin and Clodagh decided to move back to the Willamette Valley and make a go at the wine industry. Green was still working as an engineer while he methodically transitioned into the wine business full-time. Starting off with internships in New Zealand and Burgundy in France, Green landed his first wine job at Montinore Estate where he worked three years as the assistant winemaker and viticulturist. From there, he moved on to Apolloni Vineyards where he is currently the winemaker.
In 2014, Green started his own label, La Randonnée Wines, which is French for a walk or trek, and ultimately pays homage to Kevin and Clodagh’s everlasting journey of finding answers to complex problems while exploring new opportunities in the pursuit of excellence. For his pinot noir, Green sources the grapes from a longtime friend David Polite, owner of Carlton Hill, which Green considers some of the best fruit within the Willamette Valley.
“Carlton Hill is a beautiful and elegant vineyard site. East facing at a higher elevation,” said Green. “The location in the Yamhill-Carlton District, which is known for being a bit more concentrated, dark and powerful in the Oregon scheme—perhaps with that it is the perfect balance.”
His sauvignon blanc focuses more on a tropical fruit flavor you tend to see in warmer climates versus a grassier, acidic profile you typically see in New Zealand sauvignon blanc, but in the end it is a balancing act to strike the right note between acid and fruit levels.
The challenges of 2020 are real as Green made more wine in 2019 than any other, but a loyal customer base has come through in these tough times. At the end of the day, the Willamette Valley is a tight knit community and people come together whether its club members buying more wine or neighboring wineries helping each other out. Collaboration prevails and that’s really what makes La Randonnée such a special label. “I really rely on personal relationships. That is how our industry was built in Oregon and I like it that way,” concluded Green.