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Cristom Vineyards

1995 Vintage Report

The 1995 vintage started off with a relatively warm Spring and had a good growing season throughout the summer until a week of rain came in the middle of harvest.  The warmth during July and September were well above normal resulting in an overall warm year with 2,650 GDD compared to the twenty year average of 2,450 GDD.

1995 was the first vintage that we harvested fruit from our estate Louise Vineyard.  The first Pinot Noir of the year was harvested on September 23rdfrom Louise Vineyard Dijon 115 and 113 clones at 24.8° Brix and 24.9° Brix respectively totaling just two tons of fruit.

Marjorie Pommard came in the next day on the 24th at 24.0° Brix.  Then the heavy rains came for a week and we didn’t pick again until October 2ndwhen more Marjorie Pommard came in at 23.4° Brix.  After the rain passed harvest continued with ripe, good looking fruit despite the weather.  Planted in 1982, Marjorie’s vines by 1995 were producing something very special.  The biggest yield Cristom had received from her vines, Marjorie was able to produce 16 tons off of her 8.5 acres.  Cristom grew a total of 22.1 tons of Pinot Noir in 1995 – the largest yield we had produced in our four vintages.

The remaining Pinot Noir was harvested between October 5th and October 27th in a range of sugar of 22.8° Brix and 23.4° Brix.  We continued to purchase grapes from Temperance Hill Vineyard, Seven Springs Vineyard, Archery Summit, Canary Hill Vineyard and Freedom Hill Vineyard.  We were also fortunate to work with some new vineyards in 1995 as well including Winter’s Hill Vineyard, a site that sits on Jory soil at an elevation of 525-750 feet originally planted in 1990, Chapelton Hill Vineyard outside Dallas, OR, and Zena Vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills.  Of the 33.3 tons of Pinot Noir purchased from the eight different vineyard sites, 28.3 tons were Pommard clone grapes.  The only other clone purchased was Wädenswil from Freedom Hill and Zena Vineyards.

1995 was the very first vintage for all of our estate white wines.  The vintage started for us with the first estate Chardonnay picked off our hillside from the Louise Vineyard on September 15th at 23.2° Brix.  Only 2.2 tons of Dijon clones 76 and 96 Chardonnay was harvested off of the estate vineyard in its first year.

We continued to purchase Chardonnay grapes in 1995 from the same sites we worked with in 1994 including: Canary Hill Vineyard (Clone 108), Whistling ridge Vineyard (clone 108), Temperance Hill Vineyard (Wente clone) and Celilo Vineyard (Wente Clone).  The Chardonnay was brought to the winery between October 5thand October 27th harvested between 21.2° and 23.8° Brix.

1995 also marks the first year we picked fruit off of our estate Pinot Gris vineyard, Emilia, harvested on September 15th at 23.4° Brix totaling just 1.85 tons.  In addition to the estate fruit, we continued to purchase Pinot Gris grapes from Freedom Hill Vineyard and Celilo Vineyard harvested between October 5th and October 14that 21.2° – 22.1° Brix.

A week later, on September 21st, the first 0.2 tons of estate Viognier to ever come off of the property was picked at a ripe 25.5° Brix that was barrel fermented in a ½ barrel.

Not as ripe as 1994, 1995 was a year that Steve chose to chaptalize some of the Pinot Noir lots to get some of the purchased fruit up from 22.8° Brix to around 23.5° Brix.  With the 1994 vintage still in recent memory of the press and public, 1995 was unfortunately not well received by critics initially.  We were confronted with some tough choices in ’95.  Do we let the grapes hang and gain flavor at the risk of higher incidence of botrytis or pull them off before it’s too late?  Some winemakers tried to grab as much fruit as possible before the rain came and may have picked too early.  We on the other hand, as always, tried to get as many days as possible on the vine and were rewarded with a good vintage when we waited to pick most of the crop until the rain had passed.

Though rain came during picking, the 1995 wines do not lack depth of fruit or color – the vintage made rich, elegantly styled wines.  By 1995 Cristom had grown substantially producing a total of 5,112 cases for the year including 1,074 cases of estate Pinot Noir, 2,010 cases of blended Pinot Noir, 1,044 cases of Chardonnay and 984 cases of Pinot Gris.  They turned into an ageworthy wine but if they’re still in your cellar (as of 2011) drink them up now because they have developed well and will compliment any meal.