Dusky Goose and Goldschmidt Vineyard
author: Jean Yates
NOTE: This article abour Dusky Goose was published in 2004 and is still online for historical reasons. Since then, Goldschmidt Vineyard was first renamed "Dundee Hills Vineyard", then was sold to the current owners, Donna Morris and Bill Sweat. The new owners renamed the property Winderlea Vineyard. Donna and Bill made several changes, most important of which is a shift away from selling grapes. A new winemaker, Robert Brittan, of Brittan Vineyards, will make wine from the vineyard for the owners under the "Winderlea" label.
Longtime vineyard manager Andy Humphrey was replaced by Results Partners, experts in biodynamic vineyard methods. Most of the fruit sold to Penner Ash, Patty Green Cellars, and other wineries will be used by Winderlea for their own label in the future.
The name "Goldschmidt Vineyard" may not yet fall as trippingly from the tongue of Oregon wine lovers as some other hallowed single vineyard names, but those in the know consider this site to be one of the very best Pinot noir vineyards in Oregon.
"I think Goldschmidt Vineyard is an awesome site for Pinot noir," enthuses winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash. "It is a spectacular vineyard and near and dear to my heart in terms of quality!"
Penner-Ash should know: she worked with the vineyard's fruit at Rex Hill from 1988 to 1996, and today makes Pinot noir wine from the site for both the Dusky Goose label and her own Penner-Ash Wine Cellars.
"There is an incredible dried cherry quality that is unique to that site," she says. "The fruit smells like dried cherry tea, and then moves into a ripe red pear mouth feel. The fruit has a creamy textural feel when it is ready to pick, and in the winery it produces a very focused red fruited wine that is incredibly rich and sweet."
Located in the prime Pinot land known as the Red Hills of Dundee, Goldschmidt Vineyard was originally planted in 1974 and today is home to some of the oldest own-rooted Pinot noir vines in the Willamette Valley. The original plantings included Pommard, Wdenswil, and the so-called Coury Clone of Pinot noir (the latter appears to be a "suitcase clone" brought into Oregon by Charles Coury in the early 1970s) - as well as a "mystery" clone of unconfirmed origins.
The earliest plantings at the site also included Gamay, Chardonnay, and even Cabernet. When ex-Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt purchased the vineyard in 1998, he wisely decided that it was best suited for purely Pinot noir. Goldschmidt asked David Adelsheim, Oregon's foremost expert on Pinot noir clones, to replant the rest of the vineyard taking advantage of the latest clonal material.
The Vineyard Today
Today, the 17-acre site is composed of 15 blocks (see table) with a mixture of different Pinot noir clones. "David did a fabulous job of balancing the vineyard," says Penner-Ash, "and the farming is superbly managed by Andy Humphry."
Humphery has a good site to work with. With a southerly slope ranging in elevation from 440-ft to 560-ft., the exposure and Jory soils combine to make it one of the earliest maturing vineyards in the area - an area, by the way, dotted with such other well-known vineyards as Arcus, Bergström, Maresh, and Erath Prince Hill. To take full advantage of the site, Humphery uniquely hand-places shoots and carefully pulls leafs in the fruit zone to help get optimum ripening.
The estate winery for Goldschmidt Vineyard is the Dusky Goose label, founded by the Goldschmidt and Carter families. Besides Dusky Goose, the vineyard also supplies grapes to Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Patricia Green Cellars, R. Stuart, and Adelsheim Vineyard.
"When Neil approached me about making the wines for Dusky Goose," recalls Penner-Ash, "we walked through Goldschmidt Vineyard and talked about the style of wine they wanted to produce. We talked about what each block might bring to the wine, and we picked out what we thought were the best blocks for their style."
To Penner-Ash's surprise, Goldschmnidt then offered her the pick of the remaining blocks to help her launch her first independent venture, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars.
Lynn Penner-Ash and Goldschmidt Vineyard
"I am always very gentle with the fruit," says Penner-Ash (Penner-Ash Wine Cellars) describing he approach to making wines from Goldschmidt Vineyard, whether for Dusky Goose or for her own label. "I pretty much let it do its own thing." She focuses on small, indigenous yeast ferments, and she carefully manages fermentation temperatures.
She's also found that the vineyard's fruit seems to have an affinity for barrels from France's Cadus cooper. "Sometimes the red fruit is so high in fruitiness that it tends to dominate the aromatics," she says. "To mitigate that the barrels add just the right amount of spice to complement the fruit."
Even so, Penner-Ash is careful to let the Goldschmidt Vineyard speak for itself in the wines. "I want to support the lushness of the vineyard, and not overshadow it."
It is that lushness that seems to shine through in all the wines from Goldschmidt Vineyard. "People put the wine in their mouth and they say 'Oh my God!' Somehow this site produces wines with an incredibly sweet and rich mid mouth feel - It has a high yumm factor," exclaims Penner-Ash, "I don't know how else to describe it!"
Wines made from Goldschmidt Grapes
Block - Clone - Year Planted
1 Pommard 1975
2 Pommard 1976
3 Dijon 115 1974
4 Wädensvil 1974
5 Coury 1990
6 Dijon 115 2000
7 Coury 2002
8 Dijon 777 1999
9 Dijon 667 1999
10 Coury 1974
11 Mystery 1974
12 Dijon 115 1974
13 Dijon 115 1974
14 Dijon 115 2001
15 Dijon 115 2001