“… the best kept secret of the Willamette Valley” ... a buyer of Abiqua Wind Vineyard grapes

winter at abiqua wind vineyard Located along the Cascade foothills in Scotts Mills, OR the Abiqua Wind Vineyard vines are one of the crown jewels in the Willamette Valley. The vineyard began its life in 1978 on the steep south to southwest facing hillside previously used as a strawberry field. After removal of some young timber in 1984, another 3 acres were added to the existing 8 acres.

The soil type of the vineyard is a well-drained eroded sandstone clay loam known as the Hullt Series and is associated with Nekia soils. The moderate water holding capacity of these soils allows the vines to be dry-farmed, without need for irrigation. All the plants are ungrafted, growing on their own roots, allowing for a purity of varietal character unknown in modern plantings. The Own-rooted, Pommard clone plants have become the holy grail for Pinot Noir in Oregon. Pinot Gris cuttings, commonly known as the ‘Lett’ clone, comprise over half the vineyard and were purchased from the first person to bring the varietal into Oregon.

prune weights abiqua wind vineyardThe labor of love begins in the dead of winter when last year’s canes are removed from a representative sample of vines, then weighed. A formula based on the pruned cane weights is used to determine the number of fruiting buds left on the cane for the current season. This management practice is known as Balanced Pruning. The first one-third of the yearly growth uses the stored carbohydrates sequestered in the canes, trunk, and roots alone as indicated by this calculation. Pete and Marcia show great care and dedication to the health of the old vines by asking their vineyard to produce only what is within its capability to assure the vines are not stressed at the beginning of the growing season.

The next vineyard task - dormant pruning - is the most demanding and time consuming. Its importance is without question because the cuts set in motion the vine’s form and structure for years to come. An art that employs dangerous tools, dormant pruning gives the vigneron the first opportunity to put their mark on the current vintage. The previous year’s canes are pulled from the trellis and put in the rows for mulching.

bud break abiqua wind vineyard After completion of pruning, the tedious and delicate task of wrapping and tying the canes to the trellis begins. Due to the brittle nature of the canes, this is best done in damp conditions, or the canes will break, leaving a portion of the trellis unfilled. The wait for the buds to emerge - bud break - begins. Then, unessential buds that have sprouted from the trunk and any doubles are removed. The timing of bud break is an important indicator of the length the growing season will be. Mowing of the grass between the rows begins, giving the vineyard its first picture perfect moment.

Generally, the program of protecting the yet-to-emerge clusters begins, only to conclude after harvest. The vineyard is sprayed at 7-to-28-day intervals, using a rotating selection of materials. Pete’s philosophy of using the newest and most benign products comes into play, reducing the carbon footprint, soil compaction and keeping unwanted pests at bay while promoting beneficials. Diligence is critical, and when the interval arrives, you will find Pete in no other place than on the tractor seat. Throughout the industry, Abiqua Wind Vineyard is highly regarded for exceptionally healthy and vibrant grapes: part Pete - part location.

In August, two opposing sets of wires begin their journey up to the top of the posts - a time-hungry project that needs be completed at very specific growth stages.. The shoots are arranged to a near vertical position during this time, giving the trellis system its name, Vertical Shoot Positioned or VSP; During this sequence, the family and others place many fingerprints on the vines and countless footprints in the vineyard. Pete cannot walk down a row without rearranging some of the canes, keeping all the leaves exposed to sunlight, maximizing every leaf’s potential and increasing airflow, one reason the wines are complex and layered.

Also during August, the tedious task of removing the leaves around the clusters is undertaken. This practice bathes the grapes in direct sunlight and hastens the drying time after the late summer and fall rains. The Abiqua Wind is very helpful for the latter.

Then the LONG wait begins…what will September’s weather be…warm and mostly dry…cool and wet? The hard work of the season of love can only come to fruition if the final act is complete. SEPTEMBER MAKES THE VINTAGE!

“These old vines have an inner strength yielding remarkable fruit regardless of the vintage
- every fall they go to work and get the job done.”

Pete Buffington

The madness and insanity of crush begins, followed by happy yeast and fermentation on the trail to Exceptional Wines.
Midwinter returns and we begin the cycle AGAIN…