Our first Pinot noir was produced in 1988, produced primarily from Seven Springs Vineyard grapes. From the next vintage, 1989, we produced our first vineyard designated Pinot noir, O'Connor Vineyard, now our estate vineyard re-named Zenith. Over the years the number of sites from which we source Pinot noir has grown and changed.
Most of our fruit comes from independently owned vineyards. Our relationship with each grower allows us to access top quality fruit from diverse sites producing wines that reflect their individual terroirs. Grapes come from specific blocks that are grown specifically for St. Innocent on a long-term basis. We work closely with each grower to fine-tune viticultural techniques to produce grapes that most accurately reflect their unique sites.
In many cases vineyards that died from phylloxera were replanted specifically for St. Innocent with clones, rootstocks, spacing and trellising decided jointly by the grower and our winemaker, Mark Vlossak. This allows us to produce wines over long periods from a specific site. In 2008 vintage, St. Innocent produced seven vineyard designated and one blended Pinot noir.
This blended Pinot noir, our "Villages Cuvée", has been produced since 2002. It was first made to allow the fruit from young vines in newly replanted vineyards to be "de-classified". The sense of terroir in young vines is limited by the penetration of roots into the soil and the maturity of the plant. Since the purpose of a vineyard designated wine is to reveal the details of the site, our winemaker believes that very young plants have a poorly defined sense of place and should not be used until they are more mature. Once the vines become five years of age, we use the grapes for our vineyard designated wines. Since the source and flavor profile of those young vines varies from year to year, we use Pinot noir from one site, Vitae Springs Vineyard, in every vintage to provide a "core" to our Villages Cuvée.
The acreage of young vines varies from vintage to vintage, causing the production of Villages Cuvée to vary significantly. In 2007, we produced 2050 cases, in 2008, 741, and in 2009, 2661. Our 2011 "Villages Cuvée", will release in November 15, 2012. The 2010 is sold out.
Four 2010 Pinot noirs were released at the 2012 Memorial Day Open House: Temperance Hill, Zenith, Shea, and Justice Vineyard.ALl of these wines are sold out. We no longer produce White Rose Vineyard, the last vintage was 2008. The grapes from this site are now being used exclusively for the vineyard's own wines. The final two 2010 Pinot noirs were released September 1, 2012: Momtazi and Freedom Hill Vineyard.
In most vintages, St. Innocent produces a 'tete de cuvee' Pinot noir representing the best Pinot noir that we are able to produce in that vintage. These wines are named "Special Selection". We select Pinot noir grapes from the most perfectly ripe vineyards and ferment each lot separately in open top, French oak fermenters (we have five). The wines from each lot are processed separately and produce between 11 and 18 barrels. From these, a severe barrel selection is made, usually 2 barrels or 49 cases, and one or two of these lots is offered each fall as a future.
The most recent 'FUTURES' offering was the 2011 Pinot noir, Shea Vineyard Special Selection. The offering began with the Guided Tasting November 3rd and 4th, 2012, a WineClub members event, and become available at our website on November 17th, 2012. The FUTURES sold out four days later. Customers that purchased our 2010 Pinot noir FUTURES can pick them up at the winery or they will ship as weather allows (most have alrady shipped).
All of St. Innocent's Pinot noirs are produced in a style to first reveal the nuances of their terroir. Working in the vineyard with individual growers, we fine tune the viticultural practices with the goal of achieving a balance between the canopy and fruit. Most of the vineyards are grown in a sustainable way and qualify for LIVE certification. Temperance Hill Vineyard is farmed organically. Momtazi Vineyard is farmed Biodynamically. Target yields are between 2 and 2.7 tons/acre (30-42 HL/HA). Picking time is determined by the mouth of the winemaker.
In April 2006, St. Innocent purchased an interest in Zenith Vineyard (formerly O'Connor Vineyards) in the Eola-Amity Hills of the northern Willamette Valley. The vineyard is owned by St. Innocent and Tim and Kari Ramey, who purchased the property in 2002. We produced our fifth bottling of Estate Pinot noir in 2010 (704 cases) from block 5-C, 8b, and two parts of block 9.
In 2008 we finished re-planting the original Pinot noir block at Zenith, Block 1, and now have a total of 13.5 acres of Pinot noir for St. Innocent's exclusive use (Zenith also sells fruit to other Oregon and CA wineries). When those vines are in full production, in 2012, St. Innocent will produce 15-1800 cases of Estate Pinot noir. We moved into our new winery located at Zenith Vineyard in late September 2007 and did the 2007 harvest at our new facility. We opened our tasting room to the public in February 2008.
Adjacent to our new winery is an Event Center for conferences, weddings, parties and other meeting activities. For information, call Kari Ramey at 503-932-3540, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at www.zenithvineyard.com
Production techniques for making Pinot noir are relatively simple with the focus on achieving a balance a flavor, tannin and acidity to produce a wine for the table. In the winery all the fruit is destemmed, minimally crushed with 30-40% whole berries, and fermented in 3-8 ton fermenters with no SO2 (unless there is rot). There is a 1-4 day cold soak. All punch-downs are by hand and occur once or twice daily. After fermentation, the must is removed from the fermenter and pressed gently. Time of pressing and degree of pressing is determined by taste. The new wine is settled for several days and then racked to barrels to age for 15-17 months. The specific coopers, forests, and percent of new wood is matched to the individual vineyards. Our wines are rarely fined, racked, or filtered.
Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc
St. Innocent began producing Pinot gris in 1992. The style was initially modelled after the Pinot gris from Italy's Friuili region. After visiting Alsace in the spring of 1998, Mark became fascinated by the riper, more textural wines produced in Alsace. We now produce a Pinot blanc in addition to Pinot gris.
The Pinot blanc is fermented partially in stainless steel-to preserve the fruit component, and partially in mostly neutral barrels to add textural complexity. After eight months of aging on the lees (in contact with its inactive fermentation yeast), it is bottled. The Vitae Springs Pinot gris are fermented entirely in stainless and also bottled after eight months of lees aging.
Our 2011 Pinot gris, Vitae Springs Vineyard and 2011 Pinot blanc, Freedom Hill Vineyard were released September 1, 2012. In 1999, we made a one-time only vendages tardive (VT) from Shea Vineyard Pinot gris. Picked at 26.1 degrees brix and fermented almost dry (1.6% RS), it is a lovely match for blue-veined cheeses, fois gras, and patés.
Chardonnay from Seven Springs Vineyard, re-named Anden in 2001, was produced between 1988 and 2006. A mineral dominated Chardonnay from Freedom Hill Vineyard fruit was added in 1992. Between 1993 and 1997, the original California clone 108 vines were removed from both vineyards and replaced with Chardonnay clones from Burgundy. These clones ripen much earlier, achieving optimal ripeness in Oregon's cool climate. Beginning with the 1999 vintage, both vineyards produce Chardonnay from 100% Dijon-clone vines.
Chardonnay clusters are whole cluster pressed, settled overnight, and barrel fermented in French oak barrels. The Anden Chardonnay is aged in approximately one-quarter new oak and the Freedom Hill is fermented entirely in used barrels. The lees are stirred weekly for 3-4 months and the wines are left on their lees for one year. Malolactic fermentation (ML) is complete, however the effect is limited due to the small amount of malic acid present at harvest. The style is similar to white Burgundy with an emphasis on balanced ripeness, complexity, texture, and acidity. Both wines are incredible with food, especially seafood and small birds.
Our final Chardonnay from Anden Vineyard, the 2006 Chardonnay, Anden Vineyard was released 2/1/08 and is sold out. The 2010 Chardonnay, Freedom Hill Vineyard is sold out. The 2011 vintage released November 15, 2012.
St. Innocent has produced vintage dated methode champenoise sparkling wines from 1988 through 2000. The Brut 2000 was released in March 2005 and was our last large, commercial release of sparkling wine. The 1998 Demi-Sec Reserve was released in February 2007 and is sold out. We began making a small lots of vintage dated, Blanc de blanc again with the 2006 vintage; that wine will release in late 2014.