Vitae Springs Vineyard established in 1986 and expanded in 1999, is located in the rolling hills five miles south of Salem, Oregon. The grapes come from two blocks. The original planting is at the base of the 'home block' on a south slope of well-drained Jory clay at an average elevation of 600'. The more recent 'Inwood' vineyard is planted on a steeper hillside of volcanic Nekia soil running from 600-760'.
We began making Pinot gris produced from Vitae Springs in 1993. In 1999, Mark asked grower Earl Van Volkinburg, to quadruple the acreage. The Vitae Springs Pinot gris used to be the smallest production lot at St. Innocent (one year we only produced 83 cases), but no longer.
The vines struggle, especially in their youth, because the soil is thin, but the quality of the fruit from this site is very high. In order to get the concentration and texture in the wine, the yield is limited by thinning to achieve a crop of about 2.7 tons per acre, which is much lower in comparison to the average Alsace and Oregon yield of 5 tons per acre. This allows Mark to pick fully ripe fruit with a level of intensity not possible at higher crop levels.
Vintage Notes: 2009 was an unusual vintage. Normally, the fruit grown in the northern Willamette Valley is fairly uniform in character over the 40 or so miles from the north end in the Chehalem Mountain AVA to the area just south of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. This was not true in 2009. The northern AVA's (Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee, and Ribbon Ridge) experienced significant cluster dehydration and lower acidity yielding intense and very fruit-dominated wines. AVA's to the south (McMinnville and Eola-Amity Hills) harvested 7-10 days later, had no significant dehydration and normal acidities, producing exceptionally balanced wines.