Matthew Felton and Jay Mason, Oregon residents and prominent real estate investors/operators, have partnered to acquire the 105-acre Witness Tree Vineyard, which closed on April 15. The property is located 10 miles northeast of Salem, Oregon in the Eola-Amity sub appellation of the Willamette Valley AVA.
Witness Tree Vineyard was named after a 250-year-old oak tree, which still stands mid-slope on the vineyard. It was used as a surveyor’s landmark in 1854 “bearing witness” to the northeast corner of the property. Located in the heart of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, the estate borders Cristom Vineyards and is near the Seven Springs Vineyard and Temperance Hill Vineyard.
Witness Tree boasts a predominantly east facing orientation, with elevation up to 600+ feet, varying soil types, and an abundance of rock particularly at the mid and upper slopes. With a total of 58 acres of planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, Mason and Felton believe the vineyard will be capable of producing some of Oregon’s very best wines.
“While we love the style of old-world wines which aspire to naturally express the terroir in the glass, we could not be more excited about the potential to own a world class vineyard, right in our back yard, and to produce the very best expression of Eola-Amity’s uniquely special soils, minerals and earth,” Mason said.
“We plan to continue farming the vineyard organically, with the intention to launch a boutique wine making project,” Felton added. “We will utilize the very best of our vineyard’s blocks, in order to bottle a small quantity of terroir-driven Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.”
Apart from their own project, Mason and Felton plan to sell the majority of the vineyard’s fruit to a select group of producers who share their vision to bottle wines of the highest quality, which are not manipulated, but rather express the integrity of the place. In addition, Mason and Felton hope to commence activity out of the two winery buildings located on-site. As well as producing their own wines, Felton and Mason hope to lease winery space to one larger producer, or possibly to a variety of producers as a custom crush facility.
“We are excited about the array of opportunity for this vineyard, which will align with the long-term outlook for our ownership,” Mason said.
Felton added, “The opportunity to participate in and become a resource for some of the region’s best wine producers is exciting. Owning best-in-class vineyard land close to home, with the opportunity to start a wine project with a focus on quality and terroir is a dream; one which will hopefully become a legacy for our families.”