When we purchased this existing winery and vineyard site in 2000 the Willamette Valley AVA was the only officially recognized appellation in Northern Oregon. In 2004 the Willamette Valley was sub-divided into several different AVAs and where our winery and vineyard site became known as Ribbon Ridge.
Our Estate Vineyard is an interesting site due to its geology, topography and how it has developed over the years.
Our vineyard is planted in a Marine Sedimentary soil known as Wellsford. This soil type is very fine, to the point of being silty (think talcum powder). The soil is highly drained and prone to erosion. The subsoil is sandstone which further adds to the quick drainage as well as making for a growing environment that is tough on younger, developing vines with immature root systems but excellent for older vines as the soils are so soft that the root systems become very deep allowing the plant to find nutrients, minerals, water and chemical reactions that are critical to vine health and, ultimately, wine complexity.
On top of our unique soil condition we have a vineyard that begins in the middle of the hillside, works its way up the southern slope and toward the top of the hill begins to fan out covering southeast and southwest slopes. As you move up and around the hillside the vineyard covers every possible aspect to the sun. North slopes, steep eastern slopes and cascading western slopes along with everything in between make up the entirety of our vineyard. Very few vineyards have a 360 degree aspect to them and we do everything we can to work within the context of these differing slopes and the blocks that occupy them.
Lastly, the vineyard has been planted over a long period of time. Five different sections were planted between 1984 and 1990. Eight different sections were planted between 1997 and 2001. Additionally, in 2000 and 2001 all five sections of the 1984-1990 sections were interplanted to create greater plant density and hedge bets against phyloxera occurring in the future. In 2010 the last unique section was planted fully rounding out the vineyard to its current size of about 31 acres. Around 29 of those acres are dedicated to four different clones of Pinot Noir: Pommard is the most commonly planted clone and all the vines planted between 1984-1990 are Pommard. Wadensvil occupies just over 3 acres and may be, at some point, the best section of the vineyard with a divergent northeast and northwest slope (as well as Clone 1 and Clone 2 of Wadensvil planted on the opposing slopes). Dijon 114 is interplanted in the 5 acres of the southwest to northwest facing section of the vineyard known as the Etzel Block. A 1 acre section of Dijon 777 rounds out the plantings of Pinot Noir. The remaining 2+ acres of the vineyard are dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc. We are one of the few vineyards in Oregon with this grape variety planted yet the combination of soil and climate are perfect for growing this grape that shows best when a healthy dose of minerality can be introduced from the soil in which the vines sit.
From these plantings we have, over the years, produced four separate bottlings of Pinot Noir. Two of these planting correspond to age of the vines. They are the Estate Vineyard bottling from the 1997-2001 vines that shows the density, dark fruit intensity and power that the site can provide and the Estate Vineyard, Old Vine bottling that comes solely from the 1984-1990 plantings and shows the red fruit profile, minerality and refined texture that the deeper rooted plants are able to offer up. The other two plantings are from the northwest sloping section of the Etzel Block. This is named in homage to our neighbor Beaux Freres which is owned by Mike Etzel. This is an intense wine with fantastic nuance and minerality laced throughout the entire wine. The last bottling is called Bonshaw which is a 1990 planting on the steep western slope that allows for the ripeness, darkness and intensity the Estate bottling has to be on display while still taking the mineral tones and texture that the Old Vine bottling offers. This is a tricky section of the vineyard and this bottling does not occur every year and when it does it does so in small quantities.
This vineyard is farmed organically however the winery does not pursue any certifications of this nature.