Founder Jim Bernau purchased this Oregon property in 1983, and cleared away the old plum orchard. He planted Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Gris. In the beginning he hand watered the vines with thousands of feet of hose.
Numerous classes at UC Davis and seminars from here to France sharpened Jim's viticultural skills and in 1989, he was ready to build his dream winery in the Willamette Valley and make world class wine.
The winery and underground cellar are carved into the top of an ancient volcanic flow, and the soil red from its well-drained and oxidized iron content. This unique terroir is similar to the red clay soil found in the Grand Cru Pinot Noir vineyards of Romane?-st-Vivant in Burgundy, where the "soil gives France's most perfumed, satiny, expensive wine" (Hugh Johnson, World Atlas of Wine).
The Estate Vineyard, planted on a hill-site south of Salem, found the ancient volcanic, iron-rich soil to be ideal for dark, thin-skinned plums, which they dried into prunes. As it turned out, it's also ideal for planting grapes.
The vineyard site rises from 500-750 feet in elevation with seven to twelve degree slopes tilted toward the sun. As a result, the vines get excellent air drainage and are above the frost line. At this elevation and slope, the temperature is approximately ten degrees warmer than the valley floor during the day.
The soil type is typically a clay loam, which is permeable to roots, retentive of moisture and runs five to seven feet deep. Because this soil is estimated to be ten to fourteen million years old, rain water has percolated through, breaking down the basalt, and allowing the roots to reach further down to the water table.
Because of the sublime soil conditions, this Riesling soars above the rest offering incredible depth and complexity seldom seen from this grape outside of Germany's greatest vineyards. The nose opens with aromas of pear and pineapple, followed by lighter notes of citrus skin and sweet honeysuckle and finishes with a citrus edge. Great by itself or with light and creamy pastas or spicy Asian dishes.