The farm on which Victorian Summit Vineyard is planted has been in the Luchterhand family since 1956.
After a number of years of research, which included a lot of networking with growers and winemakers in the Willamette Valley, and, of course a fair amount of wine tasting, we concluded that our farm would indeed be an ideal location for growing wine grapes. We also came to the conclusion that, while there are a number of cool climate grape varieties that grow well in the Willamette Valley, the two that truly stand out on the world stage are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The goal from the very beginning was to develop the vineyard in a manner that would produce premium quality wine grapes for our own brand and which would be sought out by others seeking grapes that express the unique terroir of Spangler Hill. To that end, we retained the services of Results Partners, LLC to assist in the development and management of our vineyard.
The initial planting of just over 10 acres of vines was in March of 2015. 8.66 acres were planted to four clones of Pinot Noir – Dijon clones 115 and 777 as well as Pommard and Wadenswil. 1.42 acres were planted to Chardonnay Dijon clone 76. All clones have been grafted to rootstock selected to match the specifics of our site.
The vineyard is located on the very summit of Spangler Hill.
This location captures the breezes and provides nearly continuous air movement and ample sun exposure on varying slopes. Damp winters make for high water tables. The well drained Jory soil series retains enough water to allow dry farming, even in the dryest of years like 2015. If the summer is hot and dry, the vines shrug off hydric stress, quenching their thirst on the winter rain settled deep in the substrata.
The position of Spangler Hill is a bit farther to the west than most of the foothills of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, resulting in a longer and dryer growing season than much of the east Willamette Valley. Cool nighttime temperatures keep acidity firm and vibrant. Elevations range from 575′ to 659′, ideally situated to maximize the intensity, balance, elegance and richness of cool climate grapes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Interactive Vineyard Map
Explore our vineyard by clicking on the vineyard blocks
The vintage started out with record breaking rainfall. Spangler Hill typically receives 40 to 50 inches of rain annually. This vintage, we saw over 60 inches of rain from October through bud break, which occurred the third week in Apirl. Bloom followed the third week in June.
Heat accumulation, as measured by degree days, lagged behind normal in the early season. However, by May, we were beginning to catch up to the last several warm years. The mid-summer was very warm and dry, seeing 57 consecutive days with no rainfall. Total rainfall for the months of July and August was only 0.21 inch.
We were fortunate to have great weather at the end of the season to ripen our larger than normal crop. Clusters were close to 50% larger than what is typical in the Willamette Valley, leading to a much larger than anticipated harvest.
All Pinot Noir blocks were harvested on October 2nd. Our Chardonnay block was harvested a few weeks earlier on Septmeber 9th for a sparking wine program.
Spring came early this year, following a relatively mild winter. There was only one day on Spangler Hill from November through March where temperatures did not rise above freezing.
Bud break occurred the first week in April and was followed by warmer than average April and May. By May 1st, we were already at 247 GDD (Growing Degree Day) units, which is about three times the historical average for the north Willamette Valley. The warm weather continued into May.
While this is only the second leaf in our vineyard, the warm weather accompanied by adequate rainfall proved ideal for trunk development, which was the focus of our farming activities this season.
Conditions in 2016 resulted in the earliest bloom on record for established vineyards in the north Willamette Valley.
June continued above average temperatures, but much cooler than the previous year. Periodic rainfall throughout the summer contributed to vine development. July was cool this year with only two days above 90°, further contributing to excellent vine growth.
The growing season concluded with a very wet October. Fortunately all vineyards in the valley had completed harvest by the time the heavy rains came.
The growing season began with planting beginning on March 23rd and completed the following day. Planting conditions were challenging for the crew with substantial rainfall occurring on the first day of planting. However, this resulted in ideal conditions for the new vines. (March 23rd was in the middle of the “root day” part of the biodynamic cycle, which went from 3:41 am on the 22nd through 6:22 am on the 24th.)
Precipitation was close to zero from June through August. Fortunately, our site on Spangler Hill is jory soil, which has excellent water holding capacity. Looking back, the very dry summer was beneficial to the development of the root system for our vineyard, the primary focus of our farming activities for this first leaf in Victorian Summit Vineyard. The dry weather caused the roots of the new vines to dive deep into the soil, quenching their thirst on the winter rain settled deep in the substrata.
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