Patricia Green Cellars' Estate Vineyard:
History of the Winery
In 1986, Patricia Green began working at Hillcrest Vineyards in Southern Oregon at the request of a friend. With an innate sense of how things work and a mechanical aptitude, Green performed a number of jobs at the winery. When the 1987 harvest came in, she made wine and in 1988, became the official winemaker. She left Hillcrest in 1989 and took work in the construction industry. However, she continued to keep one foot in the wine industry, working the harvest for Adelsheim in 1990- 91. For the following two years, Green made wine for La Garza Winery in Southern Oregon. Torii Mor hired Green in 1993, where she worked for the next seven years. It was during this time that Green developed a loyal staff that stayed with her after she left Torii Mor. The parting was not easy. Green was uncertain what she would do next. She didn’t think it would be in the wine industry.
“I was ready to change my life,” Green recalled. “I was burned out, fed up and tired with the wine business. I don’t think people understand how hard this work can be.”
Although Green was ready to leave the wine industry, it was not ready to let her go. She left Torii Mor in 2000 without knowing where the future would lead her. It was deja vue with Green—following instincts when the path before her was as clear as a desert sand storm. In the past, Green always landed on her feet, happy to pursue another adventure in her life. This time, however, grape growers and winemakers urge her to stay in the industry and produce wine.
Vineyard owners told Green they wanted to sell their fruit to her. She explained she had nothing— no winery, no equipment, no staff. But Green promised to consider their offers if something fell into her lap. “A short time later, I walked into Panther Creek Cellars and there were a number of (Willamette Valley) winemakers doing a tasting,” Green recalled.
“As I walked over to their table, they all applauded me. “It was the spurring on from people in the wine industry that kept me here,” she added. “I am very thankful to those people in the Oregon wine industry.” Winemaker Ken Wright said he doesn’t believe Green would have left the industry. “Her internal compass would have brought her back,” Wright said. “She so obviously loves what she is doing and she wears that enjoyment. She loves it right down to her soul.”
On March 1, 2000, about two weeks
after she left the wine industry, Jim Anderson, who
worked at Torii Mor with Green, and left at the same time, received
a call from Tom and
Wendy Kreutner, owners of Autumn Wind Vineyards. The couple offered
to sell their winery.
Green and Anderson had a friend who wanted to be a silent partner
in an Oregon winery so all
parties began discussions.
“By July 21, we closed the deal and looked forward to harvest,” Green
said. “It was pretty fateful
Developing the Estate Vineyard
The 52 acres of the Patricia Green Cellars Estate property were first planted to grapes in 1984, and many advances have been made in the understanding of the requirements of the Pinot noir vine in Oregon since then. Patricia Green brought many new viticultural practices to the Estate Vineyard, while making wine primarily from other vineyards she had been managing, for the 2000 and 2001 vintages.
By 2002, the Estate Vineyard was producing much improved fruit, and formed a pivotal part of the Patricia Green Cellars wine lineup for the vintage. 26 acres of Estate Vineyard are planted in 13 blocks, each with its own characteristics. The two "Etzel" Blocks are named for Beaux Freres' owner and winemaker, Mike Etzel, and ajoin the Beaux Freres Estate Vineyard. The blocks have improved so much in quality of fruit produced that Patty now makes an "Etzel Block” Pinot noir from the east and west Etzel blocks.
Patty and Stella the Wonder Dog
The Halejulah Block is named for "Halelujah, the Pinot gris has all been replanted to pinot noir”. It was quite a job. "Grapes of Wrath" Block has been regrafted to Pommard Pinot noir and is a tough block to manage. "Confluence" Block is so named because it sits at the confluence of the Beaux Freres, Whistling Ridge, and Patricia Green vineyards.
The "Winery" Block is used to make the Patricia Green Cellars "Oregon" Pinot noir. It sits right next to the winery building. The vines of the Estate Vineyard are planted to a 5 x 8 spacing with some 5 x 6. The trellis used to be Geneva Double Curtain but has been changed to a single wire vertical trellis. In 2001, the East and West Etzel, and Grapes of Wrath blocks were regrafted to Pommard clone Pinot noir. Throughout the Estate Vineyard, Pinot noir clones 115, Pommard, Wadenswil, and 114 are planted, with Pommard making up 70% of the vines.
The 2004 Wines
the best PGC wine of the 2004 vintage:
2004 Estate Vineyard, Etzel Block: The Estate Vineyard is broken up into 17 different blocks based upon age of vine, clonal material, elevation, aspect, etc. All the blocks have been given a name for various reasons (Pheasant, Lakeview, etc.) and this is named after the owner and winemaker, Mike Etzel, of our next door neighbor Beaux Freres. This block runs along the gully of blackberries, poison oak and a small stream that we share with them. The so-called Etzel Block (really, a tip of the hat to someone who we think of as talented, neighborly and crazed) was planted in 1986 and is the second oldest block of grapes on the property. The hill slopes toward the northwest in this block making for fruit that ripens much differently than from anywhere else in the vineyard. In our continuing effort to produce wines that show the site they were grown in we have bottled this captivating Pinot.
We were able to use a whole cluster fermentation again (the only one we were able to pull off in 2004) on this block to further enhance the refined qualities this block offers. This technique, especially with older vines, enhances the aromatics, texture and density of the wine making it at once fuller and more structured but also more precise, defined and elegant. Aside from displaying the sweetness and smokiness from the oak the wine has great aromatics of blackberries, raspberries, tar, tobacco and exotic spices. The wine is concentrated and full with tremendous length. This is a superb wine that will rank up with the Notorious for our top wine of the vintage. 165 cases bottled.
Surprise Success of the Vintage and a best buy:
2004 Croft Vineyard: If there was a positive aspect to the utter lack of fruit in our vineyards in 2004 it was, in the effort to hunt down quality replacement fruit, the addition of Croft Vineyard Pinot Noir to our repertoire. We have gotten Sauvignon Blanc from here the previous 2 vintages but it was not until we were looking at our beleagured tonnages before we inquired about what they might have to offer us. Luckily we were in the door early and we were offered a section of 18 year-old Wadensvil and one of 15-year old Pommard. Over the past few vintages this Eola Hills based site has been steadily working toward improving the management of the site and what we received in 2004 shows that this commitment to quality has produced results. To be honest, surprising and stunning results.
The Pommard clone brings the intense boysenberry/blackberry juicy fruit that we find in the Eola Hills and the Wadensvil provides a backbone of tannin and acidity that add dimension, class and complexity to the explosive fruit profile. The wine not only stands up to the 39% new oak it completely overwhelms it. This deeply purple wine has a tremendous amount of stuffing that makes is boisterously appealing for the short term but the pure intensity is checked by great natural acidity which will make it something worth sticking in the cellar. Croft Vineyard will become a staple of our cellar over the next several years and we believe you will see some fantastic bottlings on this wine. It may be new to you now but we are pretty sure it is something you will want to get to know.
2004 Oregon Pinot Noir: Oddly enough, with all of the wines we are producing this one may have become the flagship wine. While we believe fervently in Pinot Noirs ability to produce wines that are inherently tied to the land that the grapes were grown in we also believe in producing an excellent village style Pinot Noir that shows off the sexiness of the grape and provides an introduction to the winemaking style we employ all at the lowest price we can do without completely turning the keys over to the bankers!
The base of the wine comes from Bradley Vineyard in the southern part of the state roughly between Roseburg and Reedsport. This 30-year-old vineyard provides a base of structure, acidity and brightness of fruit upon which the rest of the wine is built. The rest of the wine is made up from fruit from Quail Hill Vineyard (Pommard), Hawks View Vineyard (multiple clones), Arbre Vert (Dijon 115), Anden (Dijon 114 and 115) and just a touch of Croft Vineyard (Wadensvil) and our Estate Vineyard (Pommard). The range of quality vineyards used, the diversity of clonal material, the judicious use of new wood (the wine is only 8% new oak) and the quality of the vintage all combine to make this one pretty jazzy bottle of wine. It has great depth of color, sweet red cherry aromatics, good richness and depth of mouthfeel and a spicy finish. In short this is really good wine for the money. The goal we set out with in this wine is to show the vintage and the house style of Pinot. The 2004 vintage is based on wonderfully floral aromatics, purity of red fruit and spicy finishes. We looked to bring all these out in this eminently drinkable yet decently structured Pinot Noir. 1,450 cases bottled.
2004 Balcombe Vineyard: Balcombe Vineyard is simply one of the best vineyards we work with and every year it produces wines of terrific quality that are absolutely true to the Dundee Hills. For those of you who don’t know this site is located toward the top of the Dundee Hills on Breyman Orchard Rd. It was planted in 1990 to Pommard and we have worked with the fruit every year since 1997 so we have become pretty accustom to how the grapes grow, ripen and ferment into wine. All of these aspects are very important pieces of making high quality Pinot Noir.
The wines from Balcombe Vineyard in 2004 (including the Block 1B bottling and the Notorious) are all incredibly intense, lush, sexy wines that have piles of fruit, good structure and, amazingly, almost perfect balance. This bottling is the most high-toned (as usual) of the three and represents almost pure varietal character despite the largesse of the vintage. The sweet, red cherry quality that the Dundee Hills offer combine with the richness from the vintage and the inherent complexity of the site to make this wine a powerful beauty. The aromatics are spot-on Pinot Noir at its absolute most alluring. We received less than 1 ton/acre from this site in 2004 and while the wine shows that sort of concentration we chose, as we did with many Pinots, to go with more one and two year-old barrels so it is just 10% new oak, down from the usual 40-50% we give this wine.. This was is great now but will no doubt do very well over a period of years. Only 230 cases produced.
2004 Estate Vineyard: The first of the three bottlings from this site in 2004. That we have any at all is somewhat amazing. The 26 acres of Pinot Noir from this site produced a measly 15 tons of fruit! No one tries to crop their vineyard at .6 tons/acre. It is not a good recipe for success, at least not of the financial kind. However, Ribbon Ridge was decimated in 2004 and our vineyard, Beaux Freres and Brick House suffered crop set backs from previous vintages of at least 50%. The great thing about farming your own site is the control you have as a farmer, the care you can put into it, the reliance on it as a source of fruit year after year and, ultimately, the quality of wine you can make from it. The drawback is that in years such as this you are stuck doing the same type and same amount (and paying the same bills) of farming as you would when the plants have a full crop. For those of you eager to move out here and plant a vineyard you might want to start at the beginning of the paragraph and read it out loud.
What we have though is another wine that continues to define the ever-improving quality of this vineyard. This hillside is certainly noted for producing some bigger, more structured style of Pinot Noir and this wine falls amply into that category. Again we favored our 1,2 and 3 year-old barrels over new ones (26%) to show the more terroir-driven aspects of the wine. The wine has exactly what you would expect from our Estate bottling: Deep dark color, a nuanced nose of fruit, bramble and stone, dense flavors and texture and a zingy, tannin-laced finish. Much like the 2002 and 2003 this is not a wine for the short-term. Imprisonment in a dark cellar would be recommended as the word tight springs to mind at the moment. This wine will reward patience as we have discovered with our ever-improving older Estate bottlings. If you must give it a whirl now give it a nice, strong decanting and a big, strong meal to match it up against. 575 cases bottled.
2004 Notorious: Our best wine keeps evolving…and expanding. From just one barrel bottled in 2000 to our new high water mark of 9 barrels in 2004. On top of that it has developed from being a product of the best of the new barrels we added lees back to from Balcombe Vineyard to a blend that now includes Balcombe (56%), Croft Vineyard (22%), Anden Vineyard (11%) and our Estate Vineyard (11%). While we are generally believers in the power and purity of terroir this wine transcends that belief. In 2004 the blending that we did for our Oregon, Reserve and proprietary bottlings were even more complex to blend this year as not all blends showed as we anticipated. The Notorious blend was, well, a no-brainer.
This is, as always, our only wine that is made in 100% new Cadus barrels. The style, intensity and richness of this wine combine with the barrels to create a wholly unique and fascinating Pinot Noir. The Oregon bottling may be a general showcase of the vintage, the Notorious bottling is a spotlight on what we consider to be the absolute best of our best wines. The 2004 has the supple and expansive texture that is a hallmark of this bottling. What it really provides is incredibly dense and pure fruit. There are high toned sweet cherries from Balcombe, blackberries and licorice from Anden and Croft and a backbone of amazingly silky tannins from the barrel of the Estate Vineyard that was fermented with whole clusters. Picking our favorite bottling of Notorious would be nearly impossible as they all have such distinct personalities and flavors to them. This one, at the very least, fits into a line of truly wonderful Pinot Noirs.
2004 Four Winds Vineyard Chardonnay: Four Winds is better known for its Pinot Noir but in 2004 the Pinot Noir was completely decimated so the Chardonnay will have to carry on the family name for this vintage. Because of the Coast Range foothills’ setting for this site it is pretty cool and we always pick these grapes last. While the Pinot noir crop was ravaged the Chardonnay did quite nicely. Despite being picked last we are picking based on ripeness not just the end of the season so we are getting fully mature, interesting fruit.
Still, we are not attempting to make a big, oily, oaky wine. This wine’s roots are in the Macon and village Meursaults! We used 100% neutral oak barrels to enhance the lush fruit and medium-bodied qualities of the wine. There are very nice aromatics of lemon candy and apples. We look for brightness and zippy acidity in all of our white wines, whether we are making them or drinking other peoples’ wines! Each year we feel we get closer and closer to the combination of piercing acidity coupled with intense, rich fruit that combines into a complex and atypical domestic Chardonnay. This is a big step in that direction. 330 cases produced.
About the Previous Vintage- The 2003 Wines
The Patricia Greeen Cellars 2003 vintage wines are long ago sold out. We offer this information for customers who are cellaring the wines, and to provide a basis for comparison with future vintages.
If there were but a single word to describe the 2003 wines in Patty Green’s twin barrel rooms it would be “focused.” In a vintage that will doubtless become notable for its concentration, Patty’s wines seem to possess a clarity of focus that embodies the essence of each terroir from which she makes wines.
Patty and her business associate Jim Anderson make wine from a variety of Willamette Valley sources, encompassing the two primary soil types in the region: sedimentary and volcanic. Tasting multiple blocks from the Eason, Balcombe, Goldschmidt, Anden, Whistling Ridge, and Estate Vineyards sowed the range of flavors from these two broad soil regions. In each case the wines offered a sense of purity and focus: unsullied flavors, uniformly taught structure, punchy aromatics, and luxuriant finishes.
The so-called Red Hills of Dundee vineyards are composed primarily of volcanic soils (typified by the Jory soil series) and are famous for producing wines with strong red fruit characters, hints of flowers and a tart minerality.
Vineyards located on sedimentary soil (typified by the WillaKenzie soil series) tend to have darker fruit notes, offer more spice, and are generally more brawny. All of these characteristics were shown to true type in Patty’s 2003 wines.
The 2003 Eason block possesses a wonderful combination of flowers and earth that showcase the Red Hills character quite clearly. Ripe stems in 2003 led Patty to add a goodly percentage of whole clusters to the fermentation in some lots, resulting in a somewhat rounder and more grounded style, with somewhat more forward aromatics than the non-whole cluster ferments.
The blocks from the Balcombe Vineyard, located near to Eason but at a higher altitude, offer a slightly deeper and darker version of the Red Hills style. Intense cherry flavors are complemented by notes of blackberry pie and subtle hints of dark chocolate. The wine seems to have a little broader character and a tad more body than the Eason, while still possessing the trademark Red Hills fruitiness and elegance.
The Estate Vineyard of Patricia Green Cellars particularly seems to typify the character of Pinot noir grown on sedimentary soils. Located on a spur of pure marine sediment along the Ribbon Ridge (a small and geographically distinct region that has applied for AVA status), the Estate samples display plush and brambly black raspberry and blackberry fruits, complemented by balanced and subtley chalky tannins.
Though there are a profusion of wonderfully named blocks from the Estate vineyard, including Hallelujah, RuPaul, Pumphouse, and West Etzel Blocks, it was the Old Block (planted in 1984) that seemed most true to type for the terroir. A wonderfully full and fruity nose of dark cherries and plums mixed with wildflower potpourri is followed by fruit sweet flavors of black cherries and blackberries, with ancillary notes of vanilla bean, burnt brown sugar, and brambly underbrush. The subtle sense of minerals and spice in the sedimentary-soil wines contrasts beautifully with the rich and dark fruit core.
Interestingly, none of the wines tasted felt “hot.” In fact, the relatively high alcohol levels seemed to translate into a richer and more velvety texture then into a big and warm character. All the wines were remarkably well balanced for what could be expected from the vintage. Uniformly, the flavors were all quite clear and seemed unusually distinct; it was easy to delineate each flavor component, almost as if they unfolded one after another in the mouth.
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