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Ken Wright


Dundee Hills
Eola Hills
Yamhill Foothills


Abbey Ridge


Canary Hill








Whistling Ridge

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The Vineyard Regions
of the Northern Willamette Valley

While it is true that the Oregon wine industry is still in its infancy, definable grape growing regions have emerged. Three main geological events are responsible for the formation of these regions. The Willamette Valley was at one time a large body of inland seawater not unlike the Puget or Long Island Sounds. Water receded leaving behind a seabed of rich sedimentary soils. Volcanic activity pushing up through this sedimentary soil created the Dundee and Eola Hills. As recently as twelve to fifteen thousand years ago, the Great Missoula Floods occurred. The catastrophic failure of a twenty-five hundred foot high ice dam, burst forth the water from Lake Missoula at a rate of ten times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world. This event scattered debris from Canada and Montana across the Willamette Valley and helped to carve the Columbia River Gorge.

Vineyards of the Dundee Hills:
Vineyards planted in the Dundee Hills of the northern Willamette Valley provided the start for the modern wine industry of Oregon. These initial plantings took place in the late 1960ís and early 1970ís. The most common soil type of the area is described as Jory. These soils are volcanic in origin with basalt as the mother rock. They are unusually deep for hillsides, often 6 to 8 feet to bedrock. There is also a high percentage of clay in the soil which, combined with the soil depth, tends to hold moisture later into the season than other soils we work with. The wine from this region typically displays aromas of red fruits, strawberry, cherry and raspberry. The mouth feel is often rich and emollient.

Vineyards of the Eola Hills:
The main development of the Eola Hills area took place from the mid 1970ís through the early 1980ís. The most common soil type of the area is described as Nekia. These volcanic soils are shallower, generally 1 to 3 feet in depth, and have less clay than the Dundee Hills. As a result, these soils will dry sooner, encouraging earlier ripening of the fruit. The wines of this area typically possess aromas of black fruits, black cherry, plum and cassis, with acidity levels that are naturally higher than in other growing areas, contributing to a sense of structure in the mouth.

Vineyards of the Yamhill Foothills:
The vineyards of the Yamhill foothills were planted mostly in the late 1980ís and early 1990ís. The primary soil of this area is called Willakenzie, named after the Willamette and McKenzie rivers. It is a sedimentary soil with a sandstone base rock. The sand content is quite high and the soil therefore very well drained. The sites are generally on the lower slopes of a volcanic ridge. Wines of the area possess aromas of red and black fruits, with added elements of cocoa, leather and fresh-turned earth. Having the lowest acidity levels of these three areas, these powerful wines tend to be lush and agreeable at an earlier age.

Planted in 1977, Abbey Ridge is one of the older vineyards in the Dundee Hills from which Ken sourced two clones in 1999: Wadenswil and Coury (also known as the suitcase clone). The vines are own-rooted with 9x6 spacing. Located at the northwest end of the Dundee Hills, the vineyard is at an elevation of 650' with a southwest inclination. Soils are of the Jory type, which are volcanic in origin and basalt based. Red fruits dominate the aromas with nutmeg and earth. Ken produced approzimately 325 cases of wine from this site in 1999. The vineyard is owned and managed by Bill and Julia Wayne.

Located in the Dundee Hills at the old Archibald Vineyard site, this site was replanted in 1996 to the Dijon 777 clone on 101-14 and Riparia Gloire rootstocks with meter by meter and a half spacing. Elevation is 350'. The soil type is Jory. The wine produced from this site is typically full of complex aromas of red fruits, leather, and licorice. Ken produced approximately 100 cases of wine from this site in 1999. The vineyard is owned and managed by Archery Summit Winery.

Located at the south end of the Eola Hills and facing southeast, the vines were planted in 1982-83. The vines are Pommard clone and are vertically trellised. Elevation is 450' to 550'. The soil is a mix of Jory and Nekia. Both soils are formed from igneous rock and have a reddish brown tint. The site, however, has less depth than similar soils found in the Dundee Hills. The wine from this vineyard is typically very forward, with aromas of black cherry and cola. Ken made approximately 380 cases of this wine in 1999. The vineyard is owned by Dick and Nancy Daniel, and managed by Mark Gould.

A small 5-acre vineyard located just one mile from Canary Hill in the Eola Hills. Carter is lower on the hillside yet has a leaner and less fertile soil. The soil is mainly Nekia type, which is formed from weathered basic rock. It lies at an elevation of 325' and was planted in 1983. Ken's 1999 wines from this site are drawn from exclusively Wadenswil clone grapes. The wine is typically firmer than Canary Hill in its youth but evolves beautifully after a few years in the bottle to show black fruits and fresh, healthy earth scents. Ken produced approximately 300 cases in 1999. The vineyard is owned by Jack and Kathleen Carter, and managed by Mark Gould.

Planted in 1983 to the Pommard clone of Pinot noir on its own roots, this vineyard is located on the east side of the Eola Hills above Hopewell with an east-southeast inclination at an elevation of 250'. The soil is Jory type. The wines produced from this site typically show distinctive candied cherry aromas, firm structure, and are very ageable. Ken produced approximately 425 cases in 1999. The vineyard is owned and managed by Dick and Betty O'Brien.

Ken works with one site in the Coast Range just south of Dallas, OR. Freedom Hill Vineyards soil type is known as Bellpine, which is sedimentary in origin. The clone is Pommard and the vineyard was planted in 1980. The wines from this site are the firmest and most structured that we work with. They have great longevity. The vineyard is owned and managed by Dan & Helen Dusschee.

The vineyard was planted in 1989 and demonstrates the transition of the Jory soils of the Dundee Hills to the Willakenzie soils of the Yamhill Foothills. The vineyard lies at an elevation of 350'. Although just above it, the soil is the Jory type, this vineyard is made up of Willakenzie soil, a well drained shallow soil over siltstone, ancient ocean floor 3-5 million years old. The vineyard is spaced 7' by 5' and is planted to the Pommard clone. The vineyard concistently produces small berries and clusters that are intensely colored. Wine produced from this site typically shows flavors of black fruits, cocoa, leather and earth. Ken produced approximately 425 cases of wine in 1999. Jim Stonebridge and Kathleen Boeve own the vineyard. It is managed by Joel Myers.

Located in the Yamhill foothills, this is a densely planted vineyard at 1 meter x 2 meters spacing. The soil is the WIllakenzie type, extremely well draining, which promotes early ripening. The elevation of the vineyard is 400' with a south-southwest inclination. Slopes are 5 to 15 degrees. The vineyard was planted in 1992 to the DIjon 115 clone grafted onto 3309. The wines from the site is typically powerful, dense and deeply colored, with flavors of black fruit dominating. Ken made approximately 150 cases of wine from this site in 1999. Don and Carole McCrone are the vineyard owners, and John Gilpin is the vineyard manager.

This vineyard was planted in 1991 to own-rooted Pommard and Wadenswil clone vines. Located in the heart of the Dundee Hills between Domaine Drouhin and Archery Summit, the land has a southeast to northeast inclination. The soil is Jory type. Wines made from this site typically exhibit both red and black fruit flavors. The wines are typically fruit forward, texturally elegant. Ken made approximately 350 cases of this wine in 1999. The vineyard is owned and managed by Michael Mega.

A famous site from which many award winning wines have been made. The vineyard is in the Yamhill foothills just west of the Chehalem Valley. The fruits that Ken buys is sourced from two small blocks (2.02 and 2.72 acres), one of which is planted to the Pommard clone, the other to the Wadenswil clone. Soils are primarily Willakenzie. The vineyard lies at an elevation of 350' and was planted in 1989. The wines from this vineyard exhibit a complex array of aromas and flavors including black and red fruits, particularly blueberry, spice and earth. Ken produced aproximately 425 cases of wine from this site in 1999. The vineyard is owned by Dick Shea and managed by Javier Marin.

Planted in 1974, this is one of the earliest vineyards sited in the Yamhill foothills. It is planted to the Pommard clone on its own roots with an 8x6 spacing. The vineyard has a southwest inclination and lies at an elevation of approximately 425'. The soil is Willakenzie. The wines produced from this site show aromas of cassis and plum with matching flavors, and hints of clove and cedar. Ken made approximately 90 cases of wine from this site in 1999. The vineyard is owned and managed by Betty Wahle.

This vineyard is located on the southwestern end of the Chehalem Ridge and was planted in 1990. The vineyard is adjacent to Beaux Freres at an elevation of 450' with a southern inclination. The fruit Ken uses comes from rows planted to Pommard clone at a 7x5 spacing. The soil is Willakenzie. Wines made from this site often show aromas of blackberry, raspberry and anise, with added elements of earth and cola on the palate. Ken produced approximately 115 cases of wine from this site in 1999. The vineyard is owned and managed by Dick Alvord and Patricia Gustafson.


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