Most good Pinot Noir derives its quality from the specific and special places it is grown. Bishop Creek Cellars' vineyard is located just north of the town of Yamhill, Oregon and was planted in 1988, part of the "second wave" of Pinot Noir vineyards that were established in the Willamette Valley in Oregon at that time.Our vineyard was also one of the first few to be established in what is now recognized as the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA (American Viticultural Area). This AVA is different from other Willamette Valley areas because of its soil. Made up of coarse-grained, ancient marine sediments, these "Willakenzie soils" drain quickly and, dating back to the Eocene Age, are some of the oldest soils in the Willamette Valley. These soils are the first building block in a unique ecosystem that give Bishop Creek Pinot Noir its deep ruby color, broad, silky tannins, and powerful fruit aromas and minerality.The majority of our mature Pinot Noir vines grow on their own roots; they are not grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock. While this leaves the vineyard susceptible to the root louse phylloxera, it also means that our Pinot Noir fruit is fed by Pinot Noir roots. With own-rooted vines, you get the expression of the Pinot Noir plant from root tip to shoot tip, without any mediating influences from other types of DNA. Our vineyard is also LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified, Salmon Safe, and certified Sustainable.The vineyard sits on a 66 acre plot of land which includes 15 acres of winemaking grapes. The remainder of the land functions as pasture and wildlife habitat and vineyard support area. In addition to Pommard and Wadenswil clones of Pinot Noir, the vineyard has smaller blocks of "Dijon" clones such as 667 and 777, and includes 2 acres of Pinot Gris, as well as a scant amount of Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer. There are also trial plots of recently planted Arneis, Syrah and Grüner Veltliner.Bishop Creek started out exclusively as a grape grower. Fruit was sold to many prominent winemakers in the area until 1999, when we made our first Pinot Noir under the Bishop Creek Cellars label. We continue to sell half of our fruit and keep the rest to make about 1000 cases of wine each year. We make our wine in a facility shared with several other winemakers at ADEA Wine Company in Gaston, Oregon.Our wines are crafted in small-lots, using open-top fermenters. This allows us to produce distinctive Reserve wines from small blocks within the vineyard. We can also combine the nuanced blend of grapes from several blocks to formulate our Barrel Selection wines. We take every step to ensure the quality of the fruit translates into the finished wine. And since our Winemaker, Jeremy Saville, is also our Vineyard Manager, no one knows our fruit, and how to translate it, better.
Our vineyard is LIVE certified, certified Sustainable and is Salmon Safe. In addition, our vineyard has a couple of unique characteristics: both in the spacing of our vines and the vines themselves.Bishop Creek Farms is one of the highest density plantings of vines in Oregon. This means that each vine can devote more resources to a smaller amount of fruit, resulting in increased structure and concentration in the final wine. We crop our Pinot Noir vines at only one cluster per shoot, which makes our clusters small-berried and compact, with most plants carrying no more than 45 ounces of fruit at harvest. Some blocks crop naturally lower, carying about 28 ounces of fruit per plant.The vines themselves are different, too. The majority of our mature Pinot Noir vines grow on their own roots; they are not grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock. While this leaves the vineyard susceptible to the root louse phylloxera, it also means that our Pinot Noir fruit is fed by Pinot Noir roots. With own-rooted vines, you get the expression of the Pinot Noir plant from root tip to shoot tip, without any mediating influences from other types of DNA.In these ways, we allow each of the slightly different blocks and ecosystems within the vineyard to have their own signature and expression in the final wines.
The shallow soils and steep slope of our vineyard produce wines with rich berry fruit flavors, floral aromatics, and a dense mid-palate. We feel the site lends itself to producing Pinot Noirs that evoke a Burgundian style, with a backbone of appropriate acidity to balance the nuanced flavors.
Mostly Pinot Noir, with 2 acres of Pinot Gris, and a scant amount of Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer. There are also trial plots of recently planted Arneis, Syrah and Grüner Veltliner.
We do not purchase fruit in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA - our wine is made from our own fruit.