My earliest memories are in the back of a pick-up truck, bouncing along dirt roads from one vineyard to another in the Willamette Valley. Even now, nothing makes me feel more at home than the familiar sights and sounds of a vineyard during growing season. A dedicated viticulturist, my father exposed me to every aspect of his job and I began absorbing the craft bit by bit. It wasn’t always glamorous. Most of the time it was full of dust, tractor grease, and hands that seemed to be permanently stained.
And like any kid, I created games out of my environment. Hide-and-seek between vines and barrels and, to my father’s great displeasure, “chicken” with the slow-moving vineyard tractors. To keep me out of trouble, I was put to work. I earned my allowance pruning vines in winter and washing picking bins during harvest. The results varied. Some vintages were superb, while seasons of torrential rain left us battered and emotional. Our family’s happiness and success were deeply tied to these vines and this land, a feeling which would only deepen over the years and decades.
Fast forward a few years. I was a clueless college student who’d become disinterested in cheap beer and increasingly intrigued by the bottles that decorated our dinner table growing up. After all, my father had dedicated his life to farming Oregon wine and I figured deserved my appreciation. After getting my hands on a few clandestine bottles of wine from my father’s cellar, my fascination with the intricacies of grape-growing and winemaking began to germinate.
During my last years of college, I bartered my way into a few bins of grapes from our family’s vineyard and convinced one of my professors to let me experiment in his old moonshine barn. In a short time, I found myself immersed in every aspect of winemaking, and with a healthy amount of experimental inventory to consume. After graduation, I spent several years managing vineyards and working in wine cellars oversees, all while maintaining the personal ambition that would one day become Granville Wine Co.
Then, after more than 35 years of growing Oregon wine, my father retired. This moment presented the opportunity for us to lease the family vineyard. All had come full circle as I found myself back at the place of my formation in order to pursue its result. Just over the hill from my wife’s childhood home, this place became Granville Wine Co.
Together Ayla and I have dedicated ourselves to nurturing a product and brand that represents all that we love about this special spot in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Through our wines, we embrace the present and show gratitude for the past.
The Holstein Vineyard is located on the eastern edge of the Dundee Hills at an elevation varying from 615 to 720 feet. Our land is comprised of volcanic Jory soil–rich in both iron and clay content. Aspects of our farm face east, south, and west. The soil depth increases toward the lower elevations. Our land grows more diverse as the seasons pass, as vegetable gardens and fruit trees are planted and mature and as we work toward having a livestock presence.
Originally planted in 1972, Holstein Vineyard was one of Oregon’s earliest planted vineyards, swith plantings of own-rooted Pommard & Wadensville. Replanting commenced in 1990 and continued incrementally through 2002. This resulted in vine ages that range from 15-28 years.
Clonal diversity exists in the form of four different dijone clones on site. Some of which my father personally transplanted to the state of Oregon. Each has its own unique tendencies, qualities, and occasional drawbacks, much like people.
Three generations of our family are present and connected to this land, and we’ll be damned if we diminish it for the future of our family and Dundee, Oregon.
Our farming practices are best described as holistic and pragmatic. Aspects of organic and biodynamic farming methods are certainly utilized, but neither are exclusively applied. We do what is best for the health of our vines, our soil, and ourselves. We find the use of herbicides and pesticides absolutely unnecessary for growing premium wine here in the Willamette Valley. Our use of non-toxic and naturally-derived products at our home helps us rest easy.
Once our fruit has entered the winery, we carefully evaluate the needs of each lot. The use of stem and whole-cluster is common but not guaranteed. Ferments are allowed the opportunity to undergo fermentation with ambient/indigenous yeast, while acidification and chapitalicization are avoided at all costs. Manual punch-downs and pigeage are practiced daily with our own two hands or feet. Pressing time and duration is dictated by each lot’s unique tannin and texture, while every wine rests in a barrel with its original lees. Finally, we use the least amount of sulfur possible as we find it can often mask the intricacies of these delicate and unique wines.