How This Winemaker Blended Three Vineyards into One Pinot

If you’ve wondered whether you should consider releasing an estate wine from a blend of grapes from multiple vineyards, the how-to manual you seek may lie in the Pacific Northwest.

For the upcoming May/June issue of Vintner Magazine, we talked to Soter Vineyards in Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley, which, at the time, was preparing to release its new 2018 Pinot Noir comprised of grape blends from three of its vineyards.

Co-owner Tony Soter said the “Estates” concept was built around a 19-year-old vineyard and two additional property acquisitions in Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley, and the early releases in the new series will be made from grape blends from all three of these vineyards.

The vineyards involved are its flagship Mineral Spring Ranch, which has been featured in previous vintages for the past two decades, and the recently acquired Ribbon Ridge and Eola-Amity Hills.

“The ‘estates’ concept is built around the new property acquisitions. It’s a vehicle to take to market what we have acquired in new grape sources that we can control as our own,” Soter said. “Our goals are to drive the grape growing to organics, crop for quality-not-quantity, no-compromise high standards farming.

“The Estates wine is also a deliberate blend. There is fun and creativity in that there is some latitude to roll with the punches of wine growing year to year.”

Eventually, varietals with grapes specific to each of the three vineyards will be released. 

“Our sites are relatively established so I hope it will only be a couple more years before we have a grasp of what we think is the best expression, but at the moment it’s still to be proven,” Soter said. “We also have some replanting to do that will take years to come to full potential but offer some creative potential too.”

With an expected 100 acres producing before the end of the next decade, Soter Vineyards’ goal is to eventually bottle between 10,000-12,000 cases annually.

“Some people can do the math and wonder why the number isn’t higher. To start, low yields are necessary for top-tier wine that tastes like where it comes from, not how it’s made,” Soter explained. “We always have in the budget 10-15% for declassification nearly every season. You are fooling yourself if you think every vine you touch will make great wine…they might make good wine or even passable wine, but that will be for other labels.

Read the full story in the May/June issue of Vintner Magazine.

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