History In the Fall of 2007, after a 5 year search, we made our first visit to a 100-acre property overlooking the small community of Laurelwood. The old farm property had been badly neglected, but had tons of potential. The derelict walnut orchard was perched on a jutting upland in a thermal belt with excellent air drainage. The 500-650’ elevations were right, and there was a good amount of Southwest-facing, level land. It also had the volcanic soil we had been seeking with perfect drainage and proven water-holding capacity for dry-farming (the beautiful 270 degree view was a nice bonus too!) There were several other portions of the property available for future expansion, including another ridge to the west. We had found our place.
We spent a year studying the site, reading the old walnuts for clues about relative fertility and water-availability before clearing the upland in the Summer of 2009. We put the land into grains for a few years to dredge up any remaining walnut roots and finally, in the fall of 2014, we made our first planting or Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 2015, the hottest year on record, was a nail-biter for neophyte growers watching over first year vines on an non-irrigated site, but we were gratified that our instincts had proven correct: with the added expertise of our vineyard manager, Luke Pedotti, the young vines not only survived, they thrived. The first crop in 2017 was about 9 tons of fruit. The following year, almost 20 tons of grapes were harvested. With the latest planting in 2018, the planted area is now 17.5 acres.
Location The vineyard is on the west slope of the Chehalem Mountains AVA, just north of Ribbon Ridge. Nearby vineyards include Colleen Clemons and Fairsing.
Elevation Current plantings range from 530-650 feet.
Soil The soil across all our vine-suitable areas is Saum, a red-brown volcanic silt loam similar to Jory. Sections of the vineyard contain large basalt boulders that seem to constantly migrate to the surface with each tractor pass. Large-acre saum sites are uncommon.
For more information about the site and the plantings, including block maps, heat hours, clones and soils, checkout out the Ninebark Vineyard page on Everyvine. Also, you can view the current block map here.
Farming Practices We are LIVE certified and Salmon Safe and have been farming the grapes following LIVE standards from the beginning. Despite having abundant water resources, we chose not to irrigate. We feel that if the vines can get established, they should perform solidly with their deep roots in even the hottest summers...and hopefully have more intense flavors as well.
Management Results Partners has managed the vineyard since 2013, though Fergus, the vineyard dog, runs the place.