The Vista Hill Winemakers
Before the Winemakers
have an opportunity to work magic with the fruits of Mother Nature, there
are other ingredients that were unionized at the Vista Hills Vineyard. In
order to enable the delicate Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes to achieve
their potential, it is necessary to have three essential elements. First
and most important is the expression of terroir manifested by the soil, the
weather, the slopes and the elevation of the vineyard. Second is
knowledgeable and dedicated farm management and lastly is an experienced and
Vista Hills Vineyard has
addressed this challenge by acquiring 65 acres of prime fertile land in the
Dundee Hills Appellation in the Willamette Valley near Portland, Oregon. It
has been expressed by many knowledgeable wine purveyors that there are only
three regions throughout the world that have the perfect climate, soil,
moisture and summer sun for the unique and delicate Pinot Noir grape. The
first is Burgundy, France, the original site for the first Pinot Noir
vineyards followed by New Zealand and the Willamette Valley.
In the Willamette Valley,
the top ranked appellation is Dundee Hills, which is blessed with volcanic
soil and rolling hills ranging in elevation from 300’ to 1000’ above sea
level. Vista Hills’ elevations range from 500’ to 800’, ideally situated to
maximize the intensity of the Pinot Noir grape.
With the expert help and
advice of vineyard managers, Buddy Beck and Angel Martinez of Advanced
Vineyard Systems, John and Nancy McClintock, the founders of Vista Hills,
have planted 42 acres of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes. They have mixed
the planted blocks with Burgundy Pinot Noir clones from France, the
traditional Pommard clones and 10 acres of Pinot Gris. The Vineyard rests
atop a hill providing excellent sun exposure on varying slopes, which fall
predominantly to the southwest. The grape vines are planted in density
varying from 2200 vines to 1200 vines per acre. This diversity of sun
exposure, elevation, plant density and grape variety provides a superb
opportunity to blend these grapes for superior vineyard designated wine.
The final key to the plan
for Vista Hills’ success was the selection of the Winemakers. With the
careful selection of the land, the strategic planting decisions and the
skillful management by the vineyard managers, the success of each vintage
ultimately rests in the magical hands of the Winemakers and their ability to
extract the full potential of the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes. After
careful consideration of all the aspects of personality, compatibility and
skill, three talented winemakers were selected for 2006.
two winemakers selected are Laurent Montalieu of Solena Cellars and Michael
Stevenson of Panther Creek Cellars. Laurent will be making Pinot Noir from
Blocks A and C and Pinot Gris from Block D. Michael will be making Pinot
Noir from Block B. The long range plan is to add additional winemakers as
the grapes planted in 2004 and 2005 reach maturity.
Each of these Winemakers will work with the Vista Hills grapes in their own
unique styles to achieve dynamically different, but equally delightful wines
that will be pleasing to the consumer.