From their stewardship of the land to the award-winning wines they produce, Maysara Winery and Momtazi Vineyard stands as the legacy of a gracious family.
If there is one thing that stands out about visiting Maysara Winery, it is the warmth and passion radiated by the Momtazi family who created and run it. From the first moment Hannah Momtazi greeted us from behind the counter in the Maysara Winery tasting room, our gathering felt more like a reunion of friends than a press tour. We were welcomed with engaging conversation, generous pours, a delicious charcuterie tray, and Flora Momtazi’s homemade baba ganoush, which I could have eaten all afternoon.
The tasting room itself is a beautifully rustic space with a welcoming, intimate feel. The bar in the tasting room is the end-product of a massive oak tree that was felled on site, and the rough-hewn field stones from the property make up the ten-foot high walls.
A beautifully detailed tapestry depicting the Persian poet Rumi reciting one of his poems to a group hangs behind the bar. The air itself is changed with warm light: it is a space designed to welcome and embrace.
Maysara Winery isn’t one you are likely to simply stumble across in your next tour through Oregon wine country. Just bit off the beaten path (five minutes off Highway 18), Maysara is a destination for which you set out with the intent of spending a relaxing few hours. It is most definitely worth the drive.
The Momtazi family was beyond gracious during our visit, welcoming us to their winery and to their table like old friends. Family matriarch Flora Momtazi, known for her middle-eastern cooking, made all the food for our gathering herself, every dish a sumptuous nod to the family’s heritage.
As we enjoyed our meal, Moe Momtazi shared his story of emigrating from post-revolution Iran in the early 1980’s. As a storyteller, Moe reminds me a little of my Dad: his humor and gracious, affable demeanor providing a smooth veneer that belies a far more poignant narrative below the surface. (Sitting there listening to Moe tell his family's story, I felt my inner storyteller spark: this is a family story that needs telling.)
Between lunch and dessert, we learned that after studying at the University of Arlington in Texas back in the 70’s, Moe returned to Iran. However, as life for the Iranian people darkened following the 1979 revolution, he knew he wanted to return to the US, so in 1982, he and his wife Flora escaped. They made their way west through Spain, where their oldest daughter, Tahmiene, was born. After arriving in the US, they added to their family as younger daughters Naseem and Hannah arrived.
Each of the three Momtazi daughters fills a distinct role at Maysara Winery. Tahmiene Momtazi, the eldest, is the primary Winemaker. Middle daughter Naseem is responsible for national sales and distribution. The youngest, Hanna, with her bright smile and open, convivial disposition, serves as the Events and Hospitality Manager.
I could write a whole separate post about the food! Savory and rich, every bite was genuinely delicious and authentically comforting.
After our meal, we went on a tour of the winery. The Momtazi’s have 252 acres of their Estate under vine, and from the time they planted the first rootstock in March of 1998, they have been committed to holistic, organic, biodynamic farming practices. Vineyards are cultivated without external chemicals or mineral additives; instead nurtured with compost teas distilled from plant material on the property. (The Maysara Winery became a Demeter Certified Biodynamic® Winery in 2007.)
We try to keep a natural balance. Healthy soil and healthy vines will produce healthy fruit.
Currently, Maysara Winery offers Oregon Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris, and a Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé. My personal favorite from our visit was their Pinot Blanc (sorry, I forgot to note the year), which I found to be a rich, well-balanced, refreshing glass that paired especially well with the firm cheeses and savory charcuterie selections, and very affordable at just $20 a bottle.
Many Maysara’s wine names reflect their Persian roots. (The name Maysara translates to “House of Wine.”) For example, their Mitra Pinot Noir is named for an ancient Persian deity of friendship and oaths who was thought to be the source of cosmic light, while their Delara Pinot Noir named for a Persian word that translates as “capture one’s heart.” Others reflect their family story, like their Immigrant Pinot Noir, a wine created and dedicated "to all immigrants, including our own family members who risked their lives to escape and make it to America for the values of freedom and opportunity that this country stands for."
Originally a civil engineer, Moe Momtazi's passion for architecture and building is evident everywhere you look. As one of the largest indoor and outdoor venues in Oregon Wine Country, it’s difficult to effectively convey the architectural beauty and massive nature of the main Maysara Winery in just a few photographs.
Even more impressive is that nearly everything you see – from the stone floors and walls of the massive winery to the boards of the tasting room ceiling are made with materials from their land. The walls of the immense common room in the winery are faced with flatten staves, giving it the appearance of an old, carefully lined bookshelf.
From their stewardship of the land to the wines they produce, Maysara Winery and Momtazi Vineyard stands as the legacy of a gracious family; reflecting appreciation, dedication, and passion - to the past, the present, and the future.
I was not only impressed by their wines and facilities, but by my whole experience at Maysara Winery & Momtazi Vineyard. If a relaxing drive in the country and an afternoon of wine-tasting and storytelling sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend you make a visit.
Visiting Maysara Winery & Momtazi Vineyard
Maysara Winery is about a 1 ½ hour drive from Portland. Tasting room hours change seasonally, and due to special events on select Fridays, Saturdays, and/or Sundays, they may be closed for a private events beginning at 2:30pm, so be sure to call before you go. Groups of seven or more require a reservation. The tasting fee is $15.
Maysara Winery & Momtazi Vineyard
15765 SW Muddy Valley Rd
McMinnville, OR 97128-8551
Many thanks to the Momtazi family for hosting our meal and winery tour. As always, all opinions and images (except as noted) are mine.