At its best, wine is a reflection of place and vintage. There is a direct link between the grapes in the vineyard, all the way through this complex process, and finally to the wine on a dining table. Its a connection that is not possible with any other product.
How can the place where grapes are grown influence the qualities of the wine produced from those grapes? The most important thing is climate. It can be the climate of the region (macro-climate) or the climate of one particular vineyard (meso-climate). Either way, the influence of climate is hard to see since we experience climate one day at a time. But over the seven-month growing season for grapes, the differences build up and the grapes respond.
Soil differences are also important, but nowhere near as important as climate. The water-holding capability of soils, as well as their pH and chemical makeup, all have an influence.
These differences are further modified by the conditions during each growing season. This is particularly true in the north Willamette Valley where the climate can vary so hugely from one growing season to the next.
The differences show themselves in the sugar and acidity of the grapes, of course, but more importantly, in the quality and quantity of the aromas and tannins of the grapes. Once the grapes come into the winery and go through the transformative process of fermentation, the differences become even more obvious.
In a cool climate region like ours, winemakers typically explore and exploit the site and vintage differences to bring variety and excitement to consumers. To that end, we keep every block of grapes (a block can be as large as several acres or as small as less than an acre) coming to the winery separate from harvest to fermentation to aging. Only when we are preparing to bottle our wines do some of the individual blocks come together.
At our winery, we receive grapes that are grown at our estate vineyards and grapes that we purchase from other growers. Both are important to the creation of our wines.