40 years of wine making have taught a simple truth: Source is everything. To understand our vineyard sources for Oregon Pinot noir is to understand geology. Two main geological events are responsible for the formation of our region. The collision of the Juan de Fuca Plate and the North American Plate resulted in the shearing off of soft sediments from the ocean floor. The plate is still sub-ducting to this day. Eons of weather and pressure have compacted those soft sediments, creating the sandstone and siltstone parent material which lies below most of the Willamette Valley. The Yamhill-Carlton AVA is comprised of these ancient marine sediments.
The second key geological event is the Columbia River Basalt Flow, the largest flow of lava on planet earth. Originating from an active volcanic chain in eastern Oregon, this lava flow covered the northern Willamette Valley 20 million years ago. Vestiges of this mantle still remain and are represented by areas such as the Dundee AVA and Eola-Amity Hills AVA whose mother rock is a thick layer of fractured basalt, cooled lava, beginning 5-10 feet below the surface.
Pinot noir has the ability to connect us to place unlike anything else we drink or eat. It is like a blank a canvas that is painted with the unique aromas and flavors of its location. Our marine sedimentary sites tend to be more floral and spice focused, while our volcanic sites tend to produce wines that are more fruit driven.
Ken Wright Cellars