2022 Estate Sauvignon Blanc
Site History: The vineyard’s original planting dates back to 1984, making it the second oldest established vineyard in what is now the Ribbon Ridge AVA. Plantings of entire blocks have happened in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2010. The site includes 25.5 acres of Pinot Noir (20 acres of Pommard, 3 acres of Dijon 114, 3.1 acres of Wadensvil and 1.4 acres of Coury Clone), 2.5 acres of Sauvignon Blanc and 2 acres of Chardonnay (Dijon 76 and 96). Patricia Green Cellars purchased the property in July, 2000. About 20 acres were planted at that point, including Pinot Gris, which was mercifully grafted over to Pinot Noir in 2002. The vineyard houses the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines in the Willamette Valley. It has also produced the only Pinot Noir to receive a score of 100 from a major, national wine publication.
Site Characteristics: The vineyard starts, lightly sloped in the middle/bottom of the hill at the winery and moves quickly up a steep slope and eventually all the way to the top of the hill where it falls of 360 degrees, planted in every direction. The blocks represent palpable differences in aspect, elevation, clone and vine age. This has allowed for numerous bottlings based upon unique wine characteristics making it the vineyard with the single most Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir bottlings having come from it in the state of Oregon. The vineyard has a thin layer of extremely dry and silty topsoil that sits upon mostly a hill of shale and sandstone. Toward the very bottom of the site some deeper, very soft blue-gray clay becomes the subsoil. It is highly drained, erosion-prone soil. The vineyard is farmed entirely organically and is dry farmed. Large, deep stands of trees on the east and west sides of the property frame the vineyard, provide shade at certain times of they day and act as a home for a variety of woodland creatures including mountain lion, bobcat, black bear, coyote and deer. Unlike vineyards even 2-3 miles to the east, the Estate Vineyard receives very little wind during the growing season. The planted portion of the property ranges from 235’ to around 485’.
The Block: In the spring of 2000 we took over the farming of what is now our Estate Vineyard from Autumn Wind Winery and Vineyard. The vineyard was in, let’s say, an interesting state back then. No soil maintenance had ever been done in a region where it is critical to vine health, some vines (including the Sauvignon Blanc) were still trellised on a Geneva Double Curtain system and who knows what the style of farming was like. Sustainability was probably far away. Despite the obstacles we made a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc from the 2000 vintage, on a trial basis, and decided that not only did we like it, we believed in a greater potential for the wines to come from vintages far down the road. The oldest section of the Sauvignon Blanc in the Estate Vineyard was planted in 1990 making them what are we believe the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines left in the Willamette Valley. Another section planted in 2001 and 2002 has begun to come into full maturity giving us a little wider range of options to choose from in terms of coming up with the best possible example of an Estate Vineyard designated bottling. This west-facing slope drops off markedly and is quite steep from the middle down to the bottom of the rows. The marine soil combined with the age of the vines creates for a wonderful interplay between the polished clarity of the white wine and the sub-soil flavor impact that is imparted into the fruit. While it took 16 vintages to have a true Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc bottling the results have more than justified the wait.
Farming Practices: We have done the management of this property internally since we purchased it in 2000 with the exception of 2014 and 2015 when Sterling Fox’s management service did the work. Also, at that time, the vineyard was switched entirely to organic farming practices and remains so to this day. The vineyard has always been dry farmed.
Picking Dates, Tonnages, Tons/Acre: Picked on October 7, 2022. 2.92 tons (1.22 tons/acre).
Vinification: One 1.75 ton fermenter using 50% whole clusters.
Winemaking: All the fruit was immediately pressed after picking, allowed to settle, racked and inoculated with a yeast specifically designed for aromatic white wines. The wine was fermented and bottled after about six months prior to malolactic fermentation finishing. Due to this the wine was sterile filter prior to bottling.
Barrels: All aged in 1-3 year old Acacia wood puncheons.
Notes: The oldest section of the Sauvignon Blanc in the Estate Vineyard was planted in 1990 making them what are we believe the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines left in the Willamette Valley. Another section planted in 2001 and 2002 has begun to come into full maturity giving us a little wider range of options to choose from in terms of coming up with the best possible example of an Estate Vineyard designated bottling. The fruit that comes from there has definitely developed over the years and has different and special characteristics to it that make for a wine that will stand alone and stand out. To further accentuate the differences between our Willamette Valley bottling and the Estate Vineyard bottling 100% of the Estate Sauvignon Blanc is fermented and goes through elevage in Acacia wood puncheons. In 2022 two of the five puncheons used to create this bottling were once-used, two were twice-used and the other one was thrice used. The Acacia wood provides greater and rounder texture. Acacia wood accentuates natural floral aromatics and definitely plays off any “lemony” flavors by concentrating them to a lemon meringue pie sort of flavor profile. The Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is a denser, richer more stately version of Sauvignon Blanc than one would generally find in the universe of this grape. Along with the denser textural aspects of the wine the fruit is buffered by the same soil characteristics that make our Estate Vineyard Old Vine Pinot Noir unique. That specific characteristic is the natural proclivity of the older vines to pick up on the inherent minerality in the soil and water on the property. This underlying tone offsets Sauvignon Blanc’s general fruit driven tone making for a wine with both rich high fruit tones and crystalline notes that fill out the back of the wine.
The wine finished with numbers of a TA of 7.6, a pH of 3.23, a free sulfur level below 20 ppm and a total sulfur below 55 ppm.