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Kramer Vineyards - Redesign

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Our 22-acre vineyard is located in the northern part of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. This region has the oldest marine soils in the Willamette Valley, protected from the elements by the mountains of the Coast Range. These unique circumstances of geology and climate result in wines with a flavor profile unlike anywhere else in the world.

We started planting our vineyard in 1984; our average vine age is 27 years. The sedimentary rock-based Peavine and Willakenzie soil deposits over ancient sea beds offer excellent drainage for the mature root systems. We have Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) trellising throughout and employ sustainable and dry farming practices.

Plantings include: 7 acres of Pinot Noir, 3 acres of Dijon Chardonnay, 4 acres of Müller-Thurgau, 3 acres of Pinot Gris, 1 acre of Carmine, and ½ acre each Pinot Meunier and Grüner Veltliner. Pinot Noir clones consist of Pommard, Dijon 114, 115, 117, 667, 777, Coury, Wädenswil, and the Gamay Beaujolais Upright clone.

Blocks of Note

Rebecca's Reserve Pinot Noir

 When we started planting our vineyard in the early 1980s, the vines were planted on 5’ x 10’ spacing, or 870 vines/acre. In those days, row spacing was largely determined by the size of the tractor. However, in the late 1980s, we began to reconsider this standard. Vineyards in Burgundy for example, are usually planted much more densely, 1-meter x 1 meter, or 4800 vines/acre. Adopting that layout would require a huge investment in a new tractor when our existing model was relatively new, so we modified this concept to suit our site. We hypothesized that we could plant four rows with 4’ x 4’ spacing and then create a ten-foot break for the tractor between the rows, having the desired effect with our existing equipment. The closeness of the vines would sufficiently devigorate the plants, resulting in smaller clusters and intense flavors. Indeed, the wines produced from this site consistently show a unique flavor profile that we find intriguing. We attribute much of the character of our Rebecca’s Reserve Pinot Noirs to this higher density planting strategy.

Heritage Pinot Noir

Our oldest Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1984--one acre of Pinot Noir, own rooted and all Pommard clone. We decided to create a separate bottling from this block in 2003. After experiencing success with the Rebecca's Reserve block experiment, we decided to increase the vine density in the Heritage block as well. In 1999, we added an additional row of Pinot Noir every other row, increasing the vine density from 870 vines/acre to 1300 vines/acre. We saw results almost immediately—the increased stress on the older vines led to more balanced growth and ripening. The wines from this block are structured and densely layered, with excellent cellaring potential.

Cardiac Hill Pinot Noir

Just over one acre in size, the Pinot Noir vines planted on Cardiac Hill are stressed due to the ribbons of red and gold clay that cut through this steep hillside. These tough soils delayed vine development, and it took ten years before the plants were capable of producing a large enough crop make a single block designate. Although the Dijon 115 and Pommard clones were planted with more conventional 10 x 4 spacing, the unique soil composition provides enough vine stress for balance.

Chardonnay Clonal Selection

The first Chardonnay clones planted in Oregon came from California, primarily 108 and Draper clones.  While these clones are excellent for warmer sites, they struggled to ripen (often in November) at our vineyard. In the late 1980s, Oregon growers discovered the earlier ripening Dijon clones from Burgundy. It made sense for us to use the Dijon clones, due to the similarity of our climates. In 1994, we established a block of Chardonnay with these new Dijon Chardonnay clones. For several years we had the original block of the 108 clone and the younger block of Dijon clones. The difference in the vines were striking. The Dijon clone Chardonnay block ripened one month earlier than the 108 block, yielding fruit with more balance and developed flavors. In 2000, the old 108 clone of Chardonnay was field grafted to Chardonnay Dijon 96 and 76, and our Chardonnays have been 100% Dijon clones ever since.