Good Fruit Grower

September 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 21 of 55

22 SEPTEMBER 2016 Good Fruit Grower T he dry, rolling wheat fields in north-central Oregon have a new neighbor: a vineyard of Pinot Noir grapes that will be planted to 400 acres in the coming years. The crop isn't a departure for the peo- ple who've launched this venture. James Martin and his wife, Molli, represented the fifth generation when they took over her family's cherry orchards outside Hood River, Oregon. Over time, they gradually sold the orchards, the last one in 2006, to pursue dreams of entering the wine business. They started the Quenett wine label in 2003 and patented wine- by-the-glass technology sold under the brand name Copa di Vino. Today, they are among the largest wine producers in Oregon, bottling just shy of 126,000 cases annually out of their Sunshine Mill Winery in The Dalles, Oregon. Now, they're converting wheat fields south of town into Pinot Noir. The Sunshine Estate Vineyards sit in an area with high summer temperatures — their particular spot is averaging about 3,200 degree days a year — and irrigation water comes from deep wells. The wind blows hard, but the Walla Walla loam shows potential for wine grapes. Already, 100 acres have been planted on their own roots, not grafted as is often the case with this variety, with plans to plant the other 300 acres within the next few years. "We bought this land from a longtime wheat farmer who had a vision of wanting to do a vineyard, and we took that vision on for him," Martin said, adding that the combination of higher degree days and heat, along with aspects of the soil and expressions of the self-rooted clones, could prove interesting. "We expect different elements than you get typically with Oregon Pinot Noir, but we think when it's combined together it's going to be special and unique." Mapping the soil To gain a better understanding of the soil, Martin and viticulturist Mark Roser turned to a soil mapping system, called the Soil Information System, to create a 3-D profile of the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil, including tex- ture, moisture-holding capacity, macro- and micro-nutrient levels and root zone depth, among other things. Grapes Swapping wheat One of the largest wineries in Oregon is planting 400 acres of Pinot Noir in what were wheat fields with the help of some new technologies. by Shannon Dininny with photos by TJ Mullinax Sunshine Estate Vineyards in The Dalles, Oregon, has 100 acres of Pinot Noir (as seen on opposite page) planted on a former wheat farm, with plans to plant 300 more acres in the coming years.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - September 2016