Raptor Ridge Winery


Read an updated version of this page about Oregon winery Raptor Ridge


"Raptor Ridge owners trade high technology
for deep forest and hand-crafted wines"

By Christina Kelly

Nestled atop a heavily forested ridge in the Chehalem Mountains, Raptor Ridge Winery owners Scott and Annie Shull are shedding their high technology cloaking for a simpler country life.

It isn’t less work, and Scott Shull essentially carries two full time jobs to carry it off, but at the end of the day, the Shulls are satisfied in the choice to share their winery with the Raptors living on their 12 acres.

Scott works for Intel during the day, and spends the rest of his waking moments, including weekends, on his wines Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. The winery produces a little over 1,000 cases per year. Plans include some growth up to 2,000 cases per year, but no more.

“We want to stay at the boutique level,” said Annie. “There is something very magical about this place and we want to keep it that way. It is like living in paradise we are so blessed.”

Annie moved from St. Paul, Minnesota to Oregon six years ago, where she met her future husband Scott at Intel. As a marketing consultant, Annie worked a more creative side of the industry, but said she always wanted to have her own business.

“I’ve always been interested in having a family business,” she said. “I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and am a country girl at heart.”

Everything fell into place when she and Scott met. A strategic and business planner for Intel, Scott spent his free time making beer, keeping bees and learning about fermentation science. Prior to meeting Annie, a friend introduced him to winemaking about 11 years ago. He offered his first commercial wine in 1995.

“When I first moved out to Chehalem Mountain, many of my neighbors were wine grape growers,” Scott said. “I started out making wine as a hobby in 1989, then I got bit by the bug. I joined the Westside Winemakers Club, where we would get together for the love of wine.”

After the Shulls were married in 1998, the couple focused on a business plan that allowed Annie to leave the high tech industry and dedicate her efforts to the winery marketing, distribution and planning. In their 10-year plan, Scott hopes the winery will support both of them. Until then, he is content to work full-time at Intel, then work full-time at the winery. In October, friends and family come together to help the winery with the crush.

In a state that’s gaining a reputation for good Pinot Noir, Raptor Ridge stands on its small production and attention to details nurturing, babysitting and coaxing each barrel produced. Scott says his wines have something a little extra his hand-crafted care and attention.

“Friends tell me that there’s nothing like hand-crafted wines,” Scott said. “They have a unique flavor, aroma and texture. Wines made in mass can be lovely, but they miss something. I concentrate on every single barrel in our winery. It’s just not possible to do that when you produce mass quantities.”

Raptor Ridge (so called because the estate is shared with such birds of prey as Red-tailed hawks, kestrels and owls) wines are aged in French oak, and Scott takes a minimalist approach to the grapes. All the grapes are purchased from growers in the area, although the couple hopes to purchase property more conducive to grape-growing in the future.

Two Pinot Noir wines come from Raptor Ridge Murto and Shea Vineyards. In a recent tasting of the two Pinots, the panel was split between the two wines.

The 1998 Murto was more brooding of the two a dark, inky garnet color with lots of blackberry on the palate. It actually seemed closer to a Syrah than a Pinot Noir, although the familiar taste of Pinot Noir was clearly there. It was spicy, with lots of structure and tannins for aging. The grapes originated from the Red Hills of Dundee.

The 1998 Shea Pinot Noir had bright red fruit flavors with bing cherry tones. If the Murto is brooding, this pinot is a happy-go-lucky fellow, with a silky texture and a little more finesse. It is lighter than the Murto, although I think the two wines should not be compared. The fruit is different, as are the growing conditions and the “terroir.”

Scott is vice president of the North Willamette chapter of the Oregon Wine Growers Association, and is very interested in terroir the soil together with the climatic conditions of a district or vineyard. Oregon, he says, is a very young wine country, and as such, has not fully developed the concept of terroir.

He points out the fact that Oregon wineries are producing other good wines, besides Pinot Noir, but are not getting as much notice.

“Oregon Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons are overshadowed by California,” Scott said. “And Oregon Chardonnay gets no respect. Our growers are learning, as we all are.

“We are not yet a wine culture in this country, but over the next 20 years, if things go as they are, there will room at the table for other wines. If there is more room, the romantic part of winemaking will meet with the economic side.”

To keep a steady pace of growth, Annie says the younger generations need to learn wine appreciation.

“Baby boomers aren’t always going to be around,” Annie said. “We’ve got to teach the generations coming up about the appreciation of fine wine so we have an audience in the future.”

The winery is open only by appointment. The Shulls don’t mind sharing a bit of their paradise with those who appreciate the time-consuming efforts of a boutique winery. And, when the fog lifts from the Chehalem Mountains, visitors may get a glimpse of the other families sharing the ridge the noble raptors.

Scott and Annie Schull have built Raptor Ridge into a promising new winery known for its excellent Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. The winery is nestled atop a heavily forested ridge in the Chehalem mountains 25 miles southwest of Portland.

The winery shares its twelve acre estate with families of Raptors (buteos and accipiters). These birds of prey such as Redtail Hawks, Kestrels and Sharp-Shinned Hawks constantly watch over their every move. Hence the name- Raptor Ridge.

In each vintage year, Raptor Ridge produces about 1000 cases of wines using traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques. High quality is the focus, not higher quantities. Raptor Ridge shares a twelve-acre estate with families of Raptors (buteos and accipiters)- birds of prey such as Redtail Hawks, Kestrels and Sharp-Shinned Hawks. We are nestled atop a heavily forested ridge in the Chehalem moutains 25 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. Our foggy ridge is ideally suited to a naturally cool winemaking regime important in capturing delicate aromas and flavors. Our wines age in French oak with racking in synchrony with the full moon. Our goal is to deliver in our wines all of the natural flavor, delicate aromas and beauty offered by Oregon's Willamette Valley winegrowing region.

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