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Cristom Vineyards

1994 Vintage Report

The 1994 growing season ended with a very warm September month and dry days through October allowing us to pick at our leisure.  Yields were extremely low in ’94 with crop levels well under our average of two tons per acre, contributing to an extracted style ultimately characterizing the vintage.

The year ended with 2,475 GDD, average in terms of the last twenty years which has seen 2,450 GDD per year.  We had a relatively warm May, but a cool June and overall a very cool Spring compared to twenty year averages.

The first fruit in the building was two tons of Pinot Noir on September 21st harvested at 24.5° Brix from our estate Marjorie Vineyard.  1994 was the first year that Marjorie Vineyard was in full production after two years of pruning and training the vines and mending the soil.  On September 22nd three tons of Marjorie Pommard were harvested at 25.1° Brix and on September 23rd  and September 24th we received the remaining Marjorie Pommard, Wädenswil, and Martini clones of Pinot Noir picked between 24.0° and 24.5° Brix.  The 1994 single vineyard Marjorie Pinot Noir was a blend of the three clones picked with 50% new oak.  A total of 333 cases were bottled on February 15, 1995.

We continued to work with many of the same winegrowers becoming more intimate with the vineyard sites.  Canary Hill Vineyard, Freedom Hill Vineyard, Temperance Hill Vineyard, and Seven Springs Vineyard were the bulk of the purchased Pinot Noir grapes and the mainstays in our Willamette Valley Reserve and Mt. Jefferson Cuvee bottlings.  We also purchased Pinto Noir grapes from Archery Summit Vineyards’ Arcus Vineyard, Knudsen Vineyards and Scharf Brothers Vineyards outside Dallas, OR in the foothills of the coastal range.  A ripe year for sugar accumulation, the purchased Pinot Noir was harvested from September 27th through October 29th between 23.2° and 25.1° Brix.

1994 was also a ripe year for white wines.  Temperance Hill Vineyard, a property lying between 660-860 feet in elevation, brought us Wente clone Chardonnay harvested at 25.5° Brix on October 15th! The rest of the Chardonnay grapes were picked between October 17th and October 21st at 23.0° – 24.3° Brix.  Along with Temperance Hill Vineyard, Chardonnay grapes were purchased from Canary Hill Vineyard, Celilo Vineyard and Whistling Ridge Vineyard. The ripeness of the year translated to highly concentrated and extracted wines with moderately high alcohol levels.

Pinot Gris continued to be purchased from the same two vineyard sites as in 1993.  Six tons of Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Gris was harvested on September 26th at 22.8° Brix.  The ’94 Pinot Gris was inoculated with a commercial yeast, 71 B, a yeast isolated in Narbonne, France known for vinifying wines with tropical fruit flavors.  Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris was harvested a few days later on October 1st at 23.7° Brix, trucked to the winery from Washington State and then immediately whole cluster pressed into barrels.

In 1994 we produced three Pinot Noirs: Marjorie Vineyard, Willamette Valley Reserve and our entry level Mt. Jefferson Cuvee.  1994 was the first vintage that the Mt. Jefferson Cuvee brand name was put on the Cristom label.  We made the decision that the blend needed a name instead of its original designation of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  The reserve was a blend of Marjorie Vineyard (16%); Freedom Hill Vineyard (10%); Canary Hill Vineyard (45%); Archery Summit (4%); Seven Springs Vineyard (8%); and Temperance Hill Vineyard (17%) in 60% new French oak barrels.  The 1994 Mt. Jefferson Cuvee was a 50 barrel blend (1,179 cases) from eight different vineyard sites aged in 32% new French oak barrels.

Ultimately, it was an excellent vintage – one of the very best vintages of the 1990’s with a very strong reception by the press and public.