First, we want to thank Keith and Trudy Kramer of Kramer Vineyards for helping this dream come true and supporting us all along the way. When we originally moved to Oregon, we wanted a little land with our house so that we could someday have a small vineyard. This dream is a result of living for many years in the shadow of the Napa Valley in California and being a major consumer of wine. Now our dream has came true!
-RJ & Juanita Lint, owners
We believe that to make good wine you must first start with great fruit. We want to put only the best possible fruit in our wine. In order to achieve that goal, we started with a prime vineyard site in the northern end of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, northwest of Forest Grove. The site is comprised with very deep weathered, uniform Kilton soil, at an ideal elevation (above the frost and fog) and exposure (south facing). Another plus is the close proximity to our house (it’s right next door). Our Second site is located north of Gaston on Old highway 47. The soils at this site are from the Melbourne Association. Melbourne soils are well drained and they have a surface layer of dark-brown silty clay loam. The upper part of the subsoil is dark yellowish-brown silty clay loam, and the lower part is brown silty clay. Effective rooting depth is more than 60 inches. However, we have dug to a debt of 7 feet and found no change in soil texture
However site selection is only part of a larger picture of making a great wine. You need a lot of friends (Scott, Al, Bob, Henry, Joyce, Tom, Kathy, Joyce (Demo Diva), Jerry, Larry, Judy, Toby, Chuck, Kelly, Allison, Randy, Henry, Joyce, Mike, Russell, and Keith) to help you plant and you also need great wine makers and mentors, enter Keith, Trudy, and Kim Kramer, to turn the fruit into wine. To bring premier Pinot Noir grapes to their full potential, we are adopting sustainable vineyard practices that emphasize flavor over production volume. These practices — such as high density planting, shoot thinning, cluster removal, avoidance of the use of harsh pesticides and herbicides, — increase cultivation costs and reduce the amount of fruit that can be harvested. For sophisticated wine lovers, however, such a tradeoff will be well worth the effort.
Our goal is to grow the best fruit possible and be personally involved with each plant. The small size of the plot allows this goal to be met and the site to be maintained by one person, if needed
SITE LOCATION, HISTORY AND SOIL
Our locations are in the northern reaches of the Willamette Valley, the first vineyard is sited on a hill with views of the expanding cities of Forest Grove and Verboort. The vineyard site starts about a quarter of the way up the hill, normally above the fog line, at an elevation of approximately 400 feet facing due east, topping out at approximately 500 feet with exposures bending from the southeast through the southwest. The larger Vineyard is located north of the city of Gaston with elevations from 250 – 350 feet.
Forest Grove – Plum Hill Vineyard site
This site is composed of very deep, well drained Kinton soil. Kinton is a silty loam of marine sedimentary origin. It has a PH of 5.1 -6.0.
The site was originally owned by the once famous Tabata Brown, and then turned into a commercial prune orchard for many years. When the dried prune market became unprofitable, the trees were removed, the site was replanted with ryegrass and timothy. Part of the land had a small number of Christmas trees planted as a FFA project that had gone bad. You know the story, kid plants them and dad gets to maintain them, identical to the “I’ll take care of the dog if you get one” kid story. Removal of the Christmas trees in January and February of 2004 was the first step in achieving our dream. We’ll always remember the rain and mud of 2004 and dragging a chain to each tree stump, all 151 of them, while the tractor driver sat in an enclosed, dry cab.
With the expert direction of Keith Kramer, of Kramer Vineyards, we designed the layout and planted the first 2 blocks of vineyard in 2004 on the on the upper end of the slope. There is a very interesting story behind the lay out and how 900 plants became 1600. In the spring of 2005, the lower remaining block was planted.
In 2004, the top 2 blocks were planted with a mixture of Pinot Noir clones: one block consisting of 10 rows of 777 on phylloxera-resistant rootstock 3309. The other block of 10 rows was planted with clone 667 on phylloxera-resistant rootstock 101-14.
In 2005, the remaining lower block of 13 rows was planted in Pommard on a different phylloxera-resistant rootstock than either of the previous plantings. Our Pommard is on a root stock called Riparia Gloire or RG for short. The Riparia rootstock has demonstrated the need for watering early in the growth cycle and is known to ripening early at other wineries, as well as, in some studies at OSU.
We planted 1,452 plants per acre (6 feet between rows and 4 feet between plants). Normal Pinot Noir vineyard plantings can range from 8-12 foot wide rows and plants up to 6 feet apart. (In California some of the Zinfandel vineyards have only 400 plants per acre.) The high density planting technique we used maximizes the amount of leaf area per acre, significantly improving ripening potential and tenor. With such narrow rows, “tractor blight” is quite common on the wooden posts. There is only 2 inches of clearance on each side of our Kubota L3400 tractor, daydreaming while driving can cause damage (personal observation and experience).
We strongly believe that superior wines will only result from vineyards that are consistently managed to low yields, which in Oregon looks to be at around 2 to 2.5 tons/acre. We crop the Forest Grove site at 1 -1 1/2 tons per acre.
Gaston Plum Hill Vineyard Site
This site was planted in the spring of 2008. We purchased this site in September of 2007 and started the conversion from an abandoned dairy farm into vineyards, winery, and a tasting room. Many in the valley know the site as “Bloomer’s Dairy” while older residents remember it as the “Haberman Dairy.” The property as been a dairy farm since the early 1900’s. The primary soil at this location is Melbourne which is formed in residuum and colluvium weathered from sedimentary rock. Melbourne soils are well drained. They have a surface layer of dark-brown silty clay loam. The upper part of the subsoil is dark yellowish-brown silty clay loam, and the lower part is brown silty clay. Effective rooting depth is more than 60 inches. However, we have dug to a debt of 7 feet and found no change in soil texture
In a representative profile the surface layer is dark-brown and dark yellowish-brown silty clay loam about 10 inches thick. The upper part of the subsoil is dark yellowish-brown silty clay loam about 36 inches thick, and the lower part is brown silty clay about 36 inches thick. The profile is slightly acid and medium acid in the surface layer, medium acid in the upper part of the subsoil, and strongly acid in the lower part of the subsoil and in the substratum. Soil acidity ranges from pH 6.2 in the upper 4-6 inches to pH 5.6 at lower depths.
In 2008, we planted with a mixture of Pinot Noir clones: one block consisting of 777 self rooted, another of 667 on phylloxera-resistant rootstock 3309, 101-14. and some self rooted plants, A large block of 115 on phylloxera-resistant rootstock 101-14. and 3309. a small block of 1018 on 3309 root stock was planted along with a block of self rooted Pommard.
We have also planted Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Riesling. We planted Schönburger in March of 2010. We are the only commercial winery to have it planted in Oregon and Washington. One other Oregon winery has 4 plants but we don’t believe 4 plants provide enough fruit for commercial operations. Schönburger is basically a cross between Muscat and Pinot Noir. We’re excited to bring this grape to the public.
We’re hoping to do more planting this summer and fall on the south slope of the property next to Etters road.
Our spacing at the Gaston site is 8 foot isles and 5 feet between plants which should reduce the amount to tractor blight on the poles and plants.