The Place is the Vision
The vision in 1976 was to grow exceptional fruit from which to make exceptional Oregon Pinot Noir wines. Our contemporaries, and there weren’t many, hammered home to us that wine reflects the fruit and fruit reflects the place. So we embarked on a two-year quest to find the best place to grow grapes. In 1977, the quest took us to a 640-acre parcel in an unknown and untested area known locally as Ribbon Ridge. In spite of there being only one vineyard within a several mile radius, it felt like “the place” so we staked out 42 acres that would come to be known as Ribbon Ridge Vineyard.
And the rest is history.
Ribbon Ridge Vineyard is a gem of a site in the heart of what is now known as the Ribbon Ridge American Viticulture Area in Oregon’s Yamhill County. It is located eight miles northwest of Newberg on the western-most edge of the Chehalem Mountains overlooking Chehalem Creek and facing “No-name” Ridge in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. We founded Ribbon Ridge Vineyard (RRV) in 1978 and planted the first grape vines in 2001. Since 2003, RRV has produced consistently high-quality Pinot Noir wine grapes and vineyard-designated Pinot Noir wines.
The Ribbon Ridge Vineyard site is comprised of 42 diverse acres of vineyard, meadows, timber, ravines and natural habitat. The nine-acre estate vineyard is the sole source for Ribbon Ridge Vineyard’s flagship Estate Pinot Noir. While we sell most of our fruit to other top wineries, the best fruit is reserved for our Ribbon Ridge Vineyard Estate and Reserve Pinot Noir wines. The majority of our fruit comes from a section of the vineyard we call the Wedding Block. This section is at the highest point in the vineyard where the topsoil is the thinnest and the underlying sandstone is closest to the surface. This allows the vines in the Wedding Block to penetrate the sandstone which helps modulate the heat and moisture available to the plants. This tends to produce slightly more intense fruit flavors that add more character and depth to the wines. Plus it has a special significance to us—this is where we were married in 1978.
RRV has been LIVE certified since 2012 and has been farmed organically since 2017.
Vineyard Development Strategy
In the years between 1978 and 2001, a number of now well-respected vineyards were planted on Ribbon Ridge. We were extremely fortunate that these pioneers were willing to share their experience about the techniques and strategies that on Ribbon Ridge yielded the best fruit. We adopted many of these best practices in planning and planting our vineyard.
Specific techniques and strategies used at Ribbon Ridge Vineyard include:
|Soil||Several variations of Willakenzie clay loam over sandstone|
|Rootstock||Phylloxera resistant 3309C|
|Clones||Pommard 05 and Dijon 777|
|Spacing||6 feet by 5 feet; high density planting of 1452 plants/acre|
|Trellis||Vertical, with Guyot training, cane pruning|
|Irrigation||Above ground drip irrigation, for establishment only|
|Yield||2.5-3 tons per acre|
Clones and Rootstock
The 3309C rootstock accounts for 45% of the rootstock used in Oregon. It is resistant to diseases commonly found in Oregon, has a good capacity for developing a strong, deep root structure and is a low-vigor rootstock. It addition, its nutrient uptake profile matches well with Willakenzie soil and Pinot noir requirements.
The Pommard clone of Pinot Noir was one of the first clones grown in Oregon. Its characteristics include sensuous aromas of blue/black fruits, marion berries, spice, earth and at times game or meat. It typically has good color, great structure, with both width and length.
The Dijon 777 yields complex and well-defined aromas of wild strawberries, cassis, red currants, cinnamon, minerals and black raspberries. Wines produced from Dijon 777 are typically deep, rich, and powerful in the mouth with a broad mid-palate that is focused by soft ripe tannins.
The Dijon 777 ripens earlier than the Pommard so was planted in sections of the vineyard that have a slight eastern slope while the Pommard was planted on slopes to the south and west to ensure ripening at the same time. 53% of the vineyard is planted in Pommard and 47% is planted in Dijon 777.
The combination of these two clones delivers a deep and elegant Pinot Noir with spicy fruit, soft tannins and great structure.