What’s so great about Oregon’s terroir?
Much like real estate, a big factor of winemaking is “location, location, location”.
While there are many things that make a wine what it is, including sunlight, humidity, and irrigation, the earth it grows in is especially important. The wine making term for this is “terroir”, which is French for “land”. But, terroir is about more than the ground.
Terroir, in winemaking, is a small term that means a lot. Climate, soil type, topography, and indigenous plant life all combine to make a region’s terroir. To make this even more complex, one region can be separated into microclimates, meaning that the grapes grown on a valley floor have a different terroir than those grown on mountain slopes of the same valley. It is said that master sommeliers can differentiate a wine grown on the two sides of the same river.
All these little differences make for big differences in wine. The terroir of one valley may provide the sun and humidity needed for world class sauvignon cabernet, while a neighboring valley may face in such a direction to be better for pinot noir.
Depending on the philosophy of the winemaker, human factors can either negate regional terroir, or fully embrace it. Fermentation temperature, artificial irrigation, fining agents, and use of oak are all examples of human intervention in terroir.
What’s so special about Oregon’s terroir?
Oregon, at one point, was underwater. The very ground we use to grow our pinot noir grapes was once the ocean floor of the Pacific Ocean. Millions of years of volcanic activity would eventually bring Oregon out of the sea, adding a new layer of geological influence. Finally, the most recent Ice Age saw the massive glaciers pushing dirt everywhere, and carving new valleys everywhere they went.
At Ruby Vineyard & Winery, we grow our pinot noir vines in Oregon’s Laurelwood soil. Laurelwood is a “loess” soil type which consists of deep, well drained soil that is a silty loam. The Laurelwood soil of the Willamette Valley is responsible for the bright red fruit produced on the vine, as well as contributing tasting notes of earth and white pepper.
It is said that the soil types and climate of the Willamette Valley are similar to those found in Burgundy. But, with the average winery in the valley produces less than 1,000 cases a year, there is little consistency in the same style from year-to-year. This allows our winemakers to embrace the uniqueness of the year, and leverage the terroir of the region to create very special and distinct wines.
Come visit our tasting room to get a sense of the winery, and learn more about our techniques in using the unique Oregon terroir in making our premium wines.