This is part of a weekly series introducing readers to individuals who are passionate about our Mid-Valley community.
Salem resident Joe Dobbes is literally and figuratively at home as he walks between rows of grapes at Orchard House Vineyard for his newest wine venture, Iterum Wines.
His wine grape-stained hands move deftly as he points to or moves aside vines and gestures to various wildlife. Explaining winemaking and talking about wine is where Dobbes is most comfortable.
“This has been in the works for a lot of years,” he said. “My business plan with Iterum is to stay small, hands-on and making high quality and exciting wines you can’t find anywhere.”
From rested to restored
“Iterum” is Latin for “once again,” which Dobbes said encapsulates his journey.
Dobbes considers himself part of the second modern generation of Oregon winemaking. A native of Molalla, he got his start in the mid-80s in West Germany as an apprentice at Weingut Erbhof Tesch. He then worked in Burgundy France under Christope Roumier of Domaine G. Roumier and Dominque Lafon of Domaine des Comptes Lafon.
He returned to Oregon, working with Elk Cove Vineyards, Ken Wright Cellars and others before becoming head winemaker at Willamette Valley Vineyards from 1996 to 2001. The following year, he began Dobbes Family Estate and Wine by Joe in Dundee and was at its helm for 15 years.
Dobbes stepped away from those wine operations in 2017 to focus on his mobile bottling company Dundee Mobile Bottlers. He also tasted wines from around the Willamette Valley and revisited his wine portfolio from the start of his career.
In 2018, he and his wife, Patricia, purchased what is now Orchard House Estate. The property had previously had fruit orchards with some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones planted prior to purchase. They planted Sauvignon Blanc in 2021.
“I am just where I want to be: back in the vineyard getting dirty, farming organically, calling on all my years of experience and creating,” Dobbes said. “I am making the most exciting wines of my career.”
Creating a curated collection
Iterum Wines is purposely a smaller, limited production from Dobbes’ previous brands. He is making a few hundred cases of wines, compared to several hundreds of thousands.
Dobbes said he wants to guarantee high quality and have the capacity to make each unique.
The grapes used in Iterum wines are organic, sourced from Orchard House Vineyard. The exception are ‘Old Friends’ bottlings sourced from vineyards Joe previously worked with, including Oak Grove Vineyard and Arlyn Vineyard.
Iterum Wine is under an allocation model; after purchasing a certain amount of estate wines, you have more access to future exclusive vintages.
You can order Iterum Wines online. Orchard House Vineyard is only open by appointment, accepting requests for parties up to eight people for a private experience.
The experience with catered food pairings arranged by Carlton chef Andre Euribe requires a $100 deposit plus a six-bottle, per-person purchase commitment. The deposit is credited toward wine purchases the day of the tasting.
Dobbs said the experience is for someone who has the budget for fine wine but isn’t an expert or is in industry and potentially wants to talk shop. Guests determine after registration what they would like to do for a few hours, whether that includes food, walking around the estate, tasting grapes, etc.
Many hands make good wine:A day in the life of an Oregon vineyard harvest
If you have an idea for someone we should profile for this series, email Statesman Journal senior news editor Alia Beard Rau at firstname.lastname@example.org.