2021 Freedom Hill Vineyard, Dijon 115 Clone
Site History: The vineyard was established in 1982 by the people who still own and manage it to this day: Dan and Helen Dusschee. While they may not have realized it at the time, they were settling onto a site destined to be one of the top Pinot Noir vineyards in the state of Oregon. Their rigorous and professional approach to the management of the vineyard has brought about that greatness, and even though the vineyard suffered through a scourge of phylloxera replantings, expansion of the site has shown that there is a distinct and indomitable terroir. Few non-estate vineyards in Oregon can reach as far back in history with regards to being bottled as a single vineyard designated wine as Freedom Hill Vineyard. Panther Creek Winery began designating the site in the late 80s. St. Innocent began doing so in the early 90s. In 2013 their son, Dustin, rejoined the farm and began taking over day-t0-day management operations. Even while expanding to slightly over 90 acres over the years, this vineyard remains a family owned, lived upon and operated venture, something that is becoming increasingly rare and, thus, that much more special in Oregon.
Site Characteristics: Freedom Hill Vineyard lies toward the eastern edge of the Coast Range Foothills. While associated geographically with the Eola Hills, the site lies south and west of the border of the Eola-Amity Hill Appellation outside of the town of Monmouth. The vineyard is planted on a marine sedimentary type of soil known as Bellpine. The vineyard is also located just south of the Van Duzer wind corridor which allows for more consistent average temperatures due to a lack of afternoon and evening offshore breezes rolling through. This site is known for powerful or, at least, extremely intense Pinot Noirs. Wines tend to be very dark in color and operate on the blue, purple, black end of the fruit spectrum. Tannin structure can be impressive. This vineyard has the capacity to produce some of the most extraordinary wine made in the state.
The Block: Since 2012 when we initially began sourcing fruit from Freedom Hill Vineyard we have chosen a sub-set of the different blocks to bottle based upon the clone within the block. Not all blocks in this (or any vineyard for that matter) are equal. In the case of this bottling, for instance, we get Dijon 115 from three separate parts of the vineyard but the Dijon 115 bottling comes entirely from just this one section in a portion of the vineyard called East Liberty. Like many great vineyards in the world Freedom Hill is not especially dramatic to either look at or look out from. It in modestly hilly and modestly sloped and in conjunction with the topography around it. This part of the vineyard inches up to its highest point and rolls both to the south and the east. This block, along with the nearly 3.5 acres of Wadensvil we get that is adjacent, produces fruit that sings the Freedom Hill song of darker toned-fruit but also brings in a level of red fruit and acidic vibrancy that sets it apart in our minds from the other Dijon 115 blocks lower down the hill in the Heritage section of the site. This block has always provided 100% of the fruit for this particular bottling.
Farming Practices: Since 2013 Freedom Hill Vineyard has been moving diligently and consistently from conventional farming practices to organic farming. While not 100% turned to organic practices it is closer to that than it is to so-called “sustainable farming.” Great attention has been paid to specific cover cropping, foliar feeding and cultivation. The result is a healthier vineyard with a greater range of blocks producing single vineyard quality style wines.Picking Dates, Tonnages, Tons/Acre: September 23 7.11 tons (2.35 tons/acre).
Vinification: For this bottling there were 4 fermenters, all done in 1.75 ton containers and all done entirely destemmed.
Winemaking: Fermentations were managed by a combination of pumpovers early in the process and exclusively prior to fermentation beginning as well as pigeages to ensure gentle handling, extraction and delicate tannin construction. Cold soaks were generally 3-4 days. Full fermentation from beginning to pressing was at 18 days. 24-48 hour settling prior to being racked to barrel. All wines on full lees until assemblage for bottling. Bottled without fining or filtration.
Barrels: For this 13-barrel bottling, 3 new barrels were used all of which were Cadus. Past that the wine was a combination of largely 3 and 4 times used barrels with a couple of completely neutral barrels to round it all out.
Notes: Dijon clones were initially planted in Oregon to be earlier ripening and have more “fruitiness” to them at the same time. Many of the opulent, fruit-driven Pinots coming from Oregon are entirely or largely Dijon clone-based. We feel that this site and block, in particular, transcend that paradigm and be a complete, nuanced and complex Pinot Noir while still having a wonderful, ripe fruit character. Over the years this wine has been 50% whole cluster, even 100% whole cluster in 2018 but this year it is entirely destemmed. Even in the absence of stem-inclusion this bottling still retains the structured cut that we believe separates this from most Dijon clone bottlings. Red and black fruits fill up the fore palate and work all the way to the back of the wine where the tannins provide the necessary definition and texture to elevate this wine to the lofty standards it has had since our first bottling of it in 2012. This finished with a TA of 6.5, a pH of 3.41 and was bottled with under 25 ppm free SO2 and less than 70 ppm total SO2.