Vineyard Site Selection (1996-1997)
To evaluate the vineyard site we worked with consultants; but of equal importance, we borrowed wisdom and insight from a few Oregon winemakers that we had befriended. With a track-hoe we dug test holes, and quickly discovered that the site was incredibly rocky. One vineyard adviser commented: “I have no idea how you’re going to get posts into the ground!” After monitoring site temperatures for a month, another consultant gave us a “climate thumbs-up” – the temperatures at our site were consistent with other high quality Oregon Pinot noir vineyards. Finally, our gracious friend, Harry Peterson-Nedry (owner and winemaker of Chehalem wines) provided great encouragement by saying, “The rocks are very exciting!”
With a favorable assessment (other than the trellis-post dilemma), we decided to move forward. We drilled 700-feet through the basalt rock and got 13-gallons per minute of clean water for our well. Not exactly Niagara Falls, but enough to establish a home site. At the end of February, 1997, we finalized the purchase of the property.
The land had never been cultivated, so it needed to be cleared. We hired a Cat-operator (aka. bulldozer) and I will always remember chatting with John E. (Cat-driver #1 of three). After clearing a small patch of ground, he said to me, “Tommy, if I was you, I’d pay a guy like me to clean this place up a bit, and then I’d sell it and buy some land that has dirt on it. This place is solid rock!” And so the adventure began…
We cleared the first ten acres of land during the summer of ’97 and eleven additional acres a year later. We burnt slash piles the size of small houses. Once the land was cleared an incredible view south to Salem and the Eola hills emerged! In the Fall of 1998, we began building our 900-square foot home which we finished in the summer of 1999.