We've claimed for years that winery owners with a "hands on" approach turn out better, more complete, wines than those who don't. We look for maniacal winemakers with a fanatical attention to detail, a deep understanding of their land, and a keen observance of every aspect of their business. The tipping point for many new wineries is creating a complex solution to a relatively simple problem.
At its core, being a winemaker is relatively simple--tend your land with an eye toward sustainability, take care of your produce, and don't intervene in the winery. Having respect for the land and allowing it to express itself in its finished wine is the name of the game.
When we heard about a young couple in Oregon that had purchased a small property near McMinville, and were setting out to develop their estate by themselves, we went calling. It's so rare to find out about a new generation of winemakers that wish to not just manage, but carry out their vision themselves. At Coeur de Terre there are no consulting winemakers, vineyard managers, marketing specialists, PR firms or high-priced design agencies.
There is just Scott and Lisa Neal.
Coeur de Terre was founded in 1998 when the Neal's got lost during a real estate tour of the Willamette Valley. On that day they literally stumbled onto a forgotten 20-acre parcel that would turn out to be perfect for Oregon's adopted red grape--Pinot Noir. Scott and Lisa acted quickly and moved onto the land in only 90 days. They knew from the start that this was the place they would begin their family and start their business.
Renelle's Block was the first in the ground in the spring of 1999. This block is planted solely to Pinot Noir and has a variety of clones including Pommard, Wadensville, 113,114, 115,667 & 777. Renelle's Block, named after Scott's mom, has served as the mother block for the rest of the vineyard through Scott's in-house grafting operations. That's right...all the plant material now in the ground at Coeur de Terre has been propogated from this one block directly from a greenhouse on the property! It's unheard of in modern winemaking as most grapevines come from nurseries.
2005 was a terrific year for Oregon Pinot. The wines are seductively ripe with a very fine tannin structure. Its richness and weight are textbook Oregon. We would drink this wine now for its bright core of berry fruits and silky texture. For sure, Coeur de Terre will follow along with quality upstarts like Amalie Robert and Le Cadeau in stature and importance on the Oregon wine scene. And you're seeing it here first.