Brittan Vineyards — McMinnville, Oregon

I searched for years to find the ideal site on which to grow Pinot Noir and finally found it on this 128-acre hillside in Oregon, which we purchased in December 2004. The soils are a mixture of glacial deposits and volcanic material, with a predominant presence of broken basalt. We have east, south and west exposures to choose from on a cool, windy site on the edge of the Coastal Range. As a result, I believe I have found a site where I can grow unique wines, wines that truly speak of this place.

There were 18 acres of existing vines when we purchased it. I have subsequently re-planted close to 50% of the vineyard, fine-tuning the viticultural practices and improving the clonal and rootstock combinations, which included one of the first plantings of the Swan clonal selection of Pinot Noir in Oregon. After dropping all of the crop in 2005 to allow the vines to get better established, we made our first two Pinot Noirs from the mature vines on the property from the 2006 vintage, a total of 720 cases. In the spring of 2008, I planted an additional 3.5 acres of Pinot Noir, which we expect to be in production in 2012. I have found that because of the rocky soils and low water retention, it takes five years for a vine to get into production on this site.

In addition to the Pinot, we now have 1.5 acres of Syrah planted, a varietal that I love to make and that I believe benefits greatly from a cool growing climate, provided you can get it fully mature before the winter rains. —Robert Brittan

My selection of this particular site was the culmination of extensive research of potential vineyard sites. The deciding factors in selecting this site were the compelling mix of soils, solar orientation and micro-climates indicative of the world’s greatest Pinot Noir vineyards.