2002 Chehalem Pinot Noir Ridgecrest Vineyards Ribbon Ridge

Chehalem Pinot Noir Ridgecrest Vineyards Ribbon Ridge A graduate of the University of North Carolina, with degrees in Chemistry and English, Harry Peterson-Nedry spent 26 years in high tech manufacturing industries. Over time, he developed a love of fine wine and vacationed at the world's top wine growing regions to indulge his expansive wine collection. In 1980, Harry's passion for wine and viticulture led him to pioneer vineyard development in the now-famous Ribbon Ridge district with the planting of his 37-acre Ridgecrest Vineyard. In 1990, he founded Chehalem winery and his hands-on approach to winemaking began. Within five years, he had changed careers to focus fully on Chehalem, and expanded the winery's estate holdings to include partnerships in Corral Creek vineyard adjacent to the winery, and the exceptional Stoller Vineyard in the southern Dundee Hills.

Smart winemakers agree great wine is grown, not made. Although the wine business is equal labors of growing grapes, making wine and marketing wine, the most important differentiator long-term between wine and great wine is the grape. Today, compared to plantings twelve years ago, Chehalem emphasizes rootstocks, slightly denser plant spacings of one meter by two meter (recognizing that 1989-90 plantings were double the density of the original 1982 plantings, and 2003's are almost triple), mechanical and mulch weed suppression rather than herbicide, compost not chemical fertilizers, and non-petrochemical sprays deemed Organic. Ridgecrest is now being farmed Organically and others are being moved in that direction. Probably most significant over the years, Peterson-Nedry has been one of the Oregonian leaders in developing a viticultural knowledge base that permits harvesting of impeccably ripe and disease-free fruit before significant rains signal an end of the growing season.

The 2002 Ridgecrest Pinot Noir comes from the 37-acre Ridgecrest Vineyard, the site that pioneered grapegrowing in Ribbon Ridge, a small ridge on the western end of the Chehalem Range. 2002 was one of the greatest vintages in the history of winemaking in the Willamette Valley. The early, warm growing season was helped by a spurt of rain prior to harvest that seemed to put the grapes into perfect balance. The cool, dry temperatures afterwards allowed for perfect picking conditions.

How is the wine? It's classic Oregon Pinot Noir and Classic Ridgecrest -- beautiful aromatic and terrifically structured with deep red fruit flavors. The great length of the wine speaks to its aging potential. Drink now-2008.