Looking over the vineyards we lease, each one has a distinct personality in exposure, age, farming and the subsequent wine from it. With this vast array of personalities, we can choose to either blend forming the Cuvees “E”, “I” and at times the elusive “O” or, if the vineyard is impressive enough as a standalone, produce a single vineyard or even a single block bottling.
Each farmer has their own philosophy on how to farm their property. Most have been farming their property for at least 10 years and have learned not only what the plants want, but also what the site needs. While the vineyards in the current EIEIO & Company portfolio have farming practices unique to that specific site, the overall philosophy aligns nicely with our vision. They do what they do and we do with it what we do in an attempt to produce better wines.
After being in and around the vineyards of the Willamette Valley and having tasted the subsequent wine produced from them over the past 15 yrs, we have found that no hard and fast rules apply. You read, hear, and see people going on about yield, trellising, farming techniques and trendy pseudo-scientific farming methods. What it really comes down to is this: Does the site produce a crop with personality? There are some who will only farm Biodynamically, but is the end product always better and is the consumer willing to pay the additional costs associated with this method? There are others who follow the DuPont philosophy of “Better living through chemistry” as it is a much easier approach to farming. We believe in finding a happy medium where we are farming sustainably without losing the unique characteristics of the specifc site.
Saffron Fields Vineyard
Saffron Fields Vineyard is located on what will prove to be one of the top sites in Oregon for growing the highest quality wine grapes. Get back to me in twenty years on this statement of future fact.
The O’Donnell’s of Belle Pente Vineyard + Winery in Carlton introduced me to this site almost two decades ago, back before I had any money to buy any land. I met Brian and Jill O’Donnell in the early nineties while volunteering on the Carlton Lake Restoration Project. They knew I was in the market for a nice vineyard site after we all made wine together as “home winemakers” in both 1993 and 1994 with grapes procured from Maresh and Murto Vineyards. Brian knew some of the neighbors of this beautiful bench of a site and they informed Brian of the pending sale. Obviously and unfortunately, I did not end up buying the piece but a great couple did: Angela Summers and Sanjeev Lahoti.
Angela and Sanjeev were in the right place at the right time and serendipitously enough, bought the property around ten years ago and set out looking into what to do, when to do it and with whom. They ended up hiring Results Partners to develop and manage the site, Tony Rynders to make their wine, Richard Shugar to build their amazing art-filled tasting room and Hoichi Kurisu to transform the landscaping.
Saffron Fields is a must see, must taste, must feel, must relax and must buy place when you are next in Yamhill County. Tony Rynders, a great friend since 1998 introduced me to the owners who gave me access to a few of the acres within Saffron Fields. The rest is positive Pinot history.
at right, aerial view, Saffron Fields Vineyard
Acres: 103 total , 30 planted
Varieties: Pinot noir
Year Planted: 1996-1998
Soil Type: Willakenzie silty clay loam, 18-36 inch depth
Clones: Wadensvil, Pommard, 777, 115, 667
Elevation: 250-440 ft.
Aspect: South to Southwest
The land previously owned by George and Barbara Stermer, is now owned by Eric Lemelson (Lemelson Vineyards) and managed by Armando Martinez. EIEIO & Company first started leasing a block of this vineyard in 1999, the inaugural vintage for Lemelson Winery. This SE facing section, known as the East African block, due to the similarities in shape and configuration of the vineyard to the continent, is planted with Pinot noir clone 777. This was the introduction of clone 777 into the EIEIO portfolio; all previously leased vineyard sites were planted with Pommard clone.
The significance of the addition of Dijon 777 is that Dijon clones typically have smaller berries and smaller clusters giving them more intense flavors, aromas and structure; they also tend to ripen earlier, which can be important if late harvest rains are predicted. Some consider 777 to be among the best clones of Pinot noir while others call it the “cheerleader” of Pinot noir clones. Either way, it is good.
Over the years additionally blocks were leased which were planted to the Dijon 115 clone as well as the Swiss Clone Wadenswil, both radically different clones from each other as well as the original Dijon 777 from the East Africa Block.
Yates Conwill Vineyard
Acres: 11.8 acres
Varieties: Pinot noir, Chardonnay
Years Planted: 2005
Soil Type: Willakenzie + Willakenzie variants (under the old classification)
Clones: Pommard, Wadensvil, 115, 667, 777; Chardonnay 76 and 95
Elevation : 260 – 390
Aspect: Southwest, South, Southeast
AVA: Yamhill- Carlton
Owned by husband and wife Cathy and Steven Conwill, this is a beautiful bowl of a vineyard tucked in next to Foothill Farms and Resonance Vineyard in Carlton. The intensity of this site is the result of the field blend of each of the clones of Pinot noir planted here. Steve Conwill assists during harvest so that he will be able to makes wine under his own label one day.
Below, river rock in Yates Conwill Vineyard
Below, aerial photo of Yates Conwill and Resonance Vineyards
Below, location of Yates Conwill Vineyard and future EIEIO
Wind Hill Vineyard
Wind Hill, planted in 1974, is the oldest vineyard within the palette of Pinot that EIEIO & Company has within its portfolio. Located approximately five miles northwest of Banks, Oregon this is probably the northern most vineyard in the Willamette Valley. As such, it is a cooler and later ripening site. A gentle south-facing slope helps to ripen the old-vines and produces an elegant, cellar-worthy wine.
Wind Hill is predominately composed of volcanic soils known locally as Laurelwood and great plant material made of old, self-rooted Pommard as well as grafted 115 to rootstock from 1988, resulting in some deep taproots. These are all essential elements for producing great Pinot noir. Since 1999 EIEIO has had access to fruit from this site, however no single vineyard designation was cited until 2004; prior to then the wine was bottled under the Cuvee I label.
Acres: 22 acres
Varieties: Pinot noir
Year Planted: 1974
Soil Type: Laurelwood
Elevation: 500-600 ft
AVA: Willamette Valley