Ask ten artists to paint the same scene They would mix the paints to create new colors, incorporate texture, paint in abstract, add their own interpretation. The paintings would be vastly different and beautiful in their own right This is what wines made from Shea Vineyard are like.
Today Shea Vineyard produces some of the most sought after fruit in the Willamette Valley. Owned and operated by the Shea family, 135 acres of Pinot noir supply fruit to 22 wineries, including Shea Wine Cellars. All but one produce a Shea Vineyard designate.
|Bill Sweat, of Winderlea, signing autographs at Roll in the Shea|
Everyone is not painting with the same shade of red. Rolling hills and a natural division into east and west parcels afford differences in aspect, slope, and altitude. Five Pinot noir clones are planted Pommard, Wadenswil, and the Dijon clones 777, 115, and 114. In winemaking the artists get involved early in the process, influencing the fruit in the vineyard. Shea is quick to credit Vineyard Manager Jesus Marin for expertly overseeing each winemaker’s instructions for pruning, thinning, and picking their blocks. Of course when the grapes arrive, these artists really start mixing colors and the wine becomes a product of hand and land.
|Mark Vlossak, St. Innocent. Voted “Winemaker with the Best Hair”|
Regardless of when the grapes were picked, the 2013 Pinot noir showed well – a sign of talented winemaking. Pouring 2013 Pinot noir were Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Stephen Goff, Winderlea Vineyard and Winery, Bergstrom Wines, St. Innocent Winery, and Raptor Ridge Winery.
|Raptor Ridge barrel samples from Shea Vineyard fruit|
Dick Shea began the discussion on common ground – the vintage. “2014 was a wonderful vintage. We kept waiting for something to go wrong but it was smooth sailing.” Josh Bergstrom said, “2014 smells and tastes like sunshine.” Lynn Penner-Ash agreed. “I have never seen this level of quantity AND quality fruit.” Although Penner-Ash has contracted Shea fruit since 2002 and finds “no matter what the vintage, the site consistently produces great wines.”
Of course everyone took this wonderful fruit, dipped a paintbrush, and used a different stroke. Bergstrom and Shea showed fruit from opposite ends of the same block. The only difference was Shea used 30% whole cluster which he finds can add spice, roundness, and depth of flavor versus more pure fruit flavors without whole cluster.