My Wine is Single!
lovers are fortunate to live in an area with so many great vineyards
as well as great wineries. Many vineyard owners do not produce wine
from their fruit, rather they sell their grapes to wineries. Many
wines are bottled as "single vineyard designates."
One of my
favorite things to do is taste wines from the same vintage, same
vineyard site, different producer. This shows you two things. First,
the characteristics of the vineyard site itself. Second, it shows
off the individual style of the winemakers who produce wines from the
I did this recently with my monthly wine group
and our special guests, Dick and Diedre Shea. We blind tasted six Shea
six different producers. It was great fun to taste the vineyard
similarity in each wine as well as the difference in each one due
to the winemakers
Here are the wines we tasted in order of how
the group rated them:
2001 Patricia Green Cellars – Shea Vineyard
2002 Ken Wright
Cellars – Shea Vineyard
2000 Raptor Ridge - Shea Vineyard
- Shea Vineyard
2000 Panther Creek - Shea Vineyard
2000 St. Innocent -
Interesting to note that the Stevenson-Barrie and Panther
Creek finished back to back. Both are made by Michael Stevenson. They
are two totally different wines – the Panther Creek was a bit more
elegant while the Stevenson-Barrie was bolder declaring “Here I
am!”. This tasting made me think about the various vineyards who
sell their grapes to Oregon wineries. Let’s take a look at some
of Oregon’s great vineyard sites.
The most recognized
vineyard name in Oregon is Shea Vineyard. With 11 wineries producing
wines from Shea fruit, the 200-acre vineyard rules. The wineries
producing Shea Vineyard designates are (in alphabetical order) Beaux
Wright Cellars, Panther Creek Cellars, Patricia Green Cellars,
Raptor Ridge (who received a 93-point score for their 2000 Shea Pinot
Shea Wine Cellars, Sine Qua Non (the only California producer
of Shea designates), Stevenson-Barrie, St. Innocent and Westrey Wine
Dick and Dierdre Shea's vineyard was planted
in 1989. The Sheas, along
with their sons Owen and Peter, came to Oregon from Connecticut.
The vineyard ranges from 400 to 600 feet in elevation and actually
its own micro-climate. Vineyard Manger Javier Marin and staff
tend the vineyard.
Four Winds Vineyard
West of McMinnville, near the Coast
Range, you will find Four Winds Vineyard. Owned and planted (in 1994)
by Jon Steinhart
and Julie Donnely, the site imparts its terrior into the grapes
produced there. The vineyard sits at approximately 700 feet and is
of Nokia and Jory soils. The site is planted with Pinot Noir
Wines produced from Four Winds grapes tend to
Burgundies, rather than Oregon Pinot Noir. They are earthy,
gamey and barnyardy. At this time, the only winery, to my knowledge,
with Four Winds fruit, is Patricia Green Cellars. They make
both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from this vineyard. PGC also manages
with the expert care of PGC Vineyard Manager Jose' Garcia.
Corral Creek Vineyard
Corral Creek was planted in 1983 by John and
Diane Howieson, founders of Veritas Winery. In 1995 Chehalem Winery
purchased the vineyard
and winery. The vineyard is 25 acres predominantly planted to Pinot
significant grafts of Dijon chardonnay and Pinot Gris have been
made at the vineyard, but not touching a 1.1-acre block of 15-year-old
nestled on a low bench above Corral Creek.
The soil composition
is Laurelwood, a predominantly sedimentary soil that, although
being low in elevation,
is well drained. The vineyard is visible to all who travel
along Highway 99W through Newberg. It is located right next to the
Rex Hill Vineyards. In addition to Chehalem - Andrew Rich,
Wilridge, Phantom Hill, Morne and Idylwood also make Corral Creek single
Another vineyard owned by Chehalem
Winery, Ridgecrest Vineyard, is their oldest estate vineyard site.
Planted in 1980, the
site encompasses 37 acres in the Chehalem valley along Ribbon
Ridge. In fact, this vineyard was the pioneer of grape growing along
Ridge, an area now planted with grapes owned by Beaux Freres
and Patricia Green Cellars.
This vineyard imparts black cherry and
to the wines made from its fruit. It is well worth seeking
out wines from Ridgecrest.
Freedom Hill Vineyard
Planted in 1982 by Dan and
Freedom Hill Vineyard is one of few planted in the foothills
of the Coast Range. The vineyard sits 10 miles southwest of Salem
390 feet above sea level. The vineyard is planted on volcanic
lend to deep, rich, robust flavors with firm tannins.
wines from this vineyard tend to age very well. Bethel Heights,
Creek and St. Innocent are among the producers making
Freedom Hill designates. Great company to be in.
You may not recognize the name
yet, but you probably know the wines made from this vineyard in
the past. Anden is the new name of a portion of Seven Springs Vineyard.
was planted in 1982 in the hills west of Salem. The vineyard faces
the Southeast and reaches a height of 400 feet.
Wines made from Anden
tend to be complex and rich. They also tend to get snapped up
quickly as this site has a great reputation. You can find Anden designates
from such wineries as Patricia Green Cellars, St. Innocent and
are only a few of the wonderful vineyards producing single vineyard
You will also find wines from O’Connor, Temperance Hill, Del
Rio, Stoller and more.I highly recommend that you gather a group
and taste wines from one vineyard made by various winemakers. It
is such a great way to learn about vineyard sites and winemaking
to mention the fact that it is just plain fun!
Check out the wines
here at Avalon and schedule that tasting!
Until next time,Cheers!