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VARIETALS AND CLONE SELECTION

 
Our 22-acre vineyard is located in the northern part of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA in the Willamette Valley, at an elevation of 725 feet. The soils are silty-clay loam, sedimentary rock based Peavine and Willakenzie. We started planting vines in 1984; average vine age is over 20 years, and much of the vines are own-rooted. We have Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) trellising throughout. Plantings include: 7 acres of Pinot Noir, 3 acres of Dijon Chardonnay, 4 acres of Müller-Thurgau, 3 acres of Pinot Gris, 1 acre of Carmine, and ½ acre each Pinot Meunier and Grüner Veltliner. Pinot Noir clones consist of Pommard, Dijon 115, 667, 777, Wädenswil, and Gamay Beaujolais.
 

 

REBECCA'S RESERVE BLOCK

 
When we started planting our vineyard in the early 1980s, the vines were planted on 5’ x 10’ spacing, or 870 vines/acre. In those days, row spacing was largely determined by the size of the tractor. However, in the late 1980s, some growers began to believe that for select sites, Pinot Noir should be spaced similar to the vineyards in Burgundy, 1 meter x 1 meter. This would require a huge investment in a new tractor when our existing model was relatively new. However, in 1992, we decided that we could plant Pinot Noir four rows 4’ x 4’ spacing and then create a ten foot break for the tractor between the rows. The closeness of the vines devigorated the plants, increasing vine stress, resulting in smaller clusters and intense flavors. Over the years, the wines produced from this site consistently showed a unique flavor profile that we found encouraging, so we decided to expand. Between 2000 and 2007 we planted another block we call New Rebecca's. This block has similar vine spacing, and is nearly one acre. We believe the unique flavor profile and structure of our Rebecca’s Reserve Pinot Noirs is due to this higher density planting strategy.
 

 

HERITAGE BLOCK

 
As our vineyard acreage grew, we noticed that the wines that were most compelling were from the vines with the most age. Our oldest Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1984--one acre of Pinot Noir, own rooted and all Pommard clone. We decided to create a separate bottling from this block in 2003. After experiencing success with the Rebecca's Reserve block experiment, we decided to increase the vine density in the Heritage block as well. In 1999, we added an additional row of Pinot Noir every other row, increasing the vine density from 870 vines/acre to 1300 vines/acre. We saw results almost immediately—the increased stress on the older vines led to more balanced growth and ripening. The wines from this block are structured and densely layered, with excellent cellar potential.
 

 

CARDIAC HILL

 
Originally, this block was Gewurztraminer planted in the 1980s. We soon realized that the yields were too low to be sustainable, and shifted our focus to increasing our plantings of Pinot Noir. At the time, new Dijon clones of Pinot Noir from France were being introduced to Oregon winemakers. In 1995, the Gewürztraminer was removed and the area was replanted. Just over one acre in size, the Pinot Noir vines planted on Cardiac Hill are stressed due to the ribbons of red and gold clay that cut through this steep hillside. This contributed to a long wait for the plants to develop enough to produce a large enough crop make a single block designate. Although the Dijon 115 and Pommard clones were planted with more conventional 10 x 4 spacing, the unique soil composition provides enough vine stress for balance.  The wait was worth it!
 

 

CHARDONNAY CLONE

 
The first Chardonnay clones planted in Oregon came from California, primarily 108 and Draper clones.  While these clones are excellent for the warm growing regions in California, they struggled to ripen (often in November) in the cooler climate of the Willamette Valley. In the late 1980s, Oregon growers discovered the Dijon clones from France that always ripened in October, a significant difference. Our growing conditions are more similar to Burgundy than California, so it made sense for us to use the Dijon clones. In 1994, we started planting a second block of Chardonnay with the grafted Dijon Chardonnay clones. For several years we had the older block of the 108 clone and the younger block of Dijon clone. The difference in the wine was striking. The Dijon clone Chardonnay block ripened one month earlier than the 108 block, and the flavors were much more developed. In 2000, the old 108 clone of Chardonnay was field grafted to Chardonnay Dijon 96 and 76 using cuttings from the Dijon block.  We spent many hours tediously tying, pruning, and training the vines. The first Chardonnay wine from this block was made in 2001 and was of excellent quality--something about those old roots, perhaps.