John Zelko is an interesting guy. He earned his MD from the University of Colorado Denver in 1983. He’s now a practicing surgeon at The Oregon Clinic’s Portland facility, where he’s worked since 2008.
The interesting bit is what John did between 1983 and 2008. He planted a vineyard in Willamette Valley. In 1993, he planted 25 acres of Pinot Noir and a little bit of Pinot Blanc. By 2000, he bottled his first commercial release, which he named Z’IVO. He may be the only practicing surgeon-slash-fulltime winemaker in the world.
The name Z’IVO can be translated in two ways, both of which harken back to his heritage. Z’IVO is both “Z’s Wines” and “Alive” in Czech. For the past decade, John has been working with Miguel Lopez as a winemaking consultant. Miguel is fantastic –if unheralded– winemaker in Oregon. He was the winemaker at Walnut City Wineworks in McMinnville until 2010, moved on to Domain Serene, and is now the Assistant Winemaker at Domaine Roy et Fils. I’ve been waiting for him to take the helm of a project. Still, his fingerprints are all over this current vintage of Z’IVO.
This bottle is a classic example of Willamette Valley Pinot from the Eola Amity Hills. Elegant and composed, the wine offers enticing floral and cherry notes. The structure is sleek with supple tannins that lend this Pinot Noir a glossy sophistication. A beautiful bottle.