Bill Hanson: Grower of our Square, Plumb & Level Yamhill Carlton, Libra Vineyard Pinot Noir
Bill has more than 25 years of wine industry experience. He has served as past Chair of the Board of Directors as well as Marketing Committee Chair for LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), the leading certifier of sustainable vineyards and wineries in the Pacific Northwest. Bill has held Certified Wine Educator’s accreditation through the Society of Wine Educators since 2007. In addition to his extensive wine management experience, Bill also brings the skills of a winegrower as owner of the Libra Vineyard.
Patrick Taylor: Winemaker of our Square, Plumb & Level Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir
Descendant of a prohibition-era winemaker/Italian immigrant, Mr. Taylor only discovered his latent love for winemaking after years of kitchen work, a history degree, and a short foray into home-brewing. In 1991 Patrick set his compass for a place that has proven to be the creative Mecca for all things agriculturally eclectic – Portland, Oregon – so that he could pursue his new found love of fermentation. He earned his BS (1999) and MS (2002) in viticulture and oenology from Oregon State University and worked stints in wine production for Torii Mor, Andrew Rich, Nepenthe (Australia), and Benton Lane. Patrick is the winemaker at Cana’s Feast Winery (where he has been since 2004), was a co-owner of Guild Winemakers from 2010-2014, and has also been crafting some uniquely delicious vermouths under the label of his Hammer & Tongs project since 2012. Among other wines at Cana’s Feast, Patrick is making Nebbiolo, Barbera, Arneis, Sangiovese, Primitivo, and a Chinato of Nebbiolo. Appellations from where Cana’s Feast sources these varietals include Horse Heaven Hills, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Wahluke Slope, and the Willamette Valley.
Fred Peterson: Grower of our Square, Plumb & Level Dry Creek Valley, Peterson Vineyard Red Blend
My goal for Peterson Winery and myself is a simple one – to craft better and better wines each year. Having grown grapes and made wine since the 70’s, we still continue to improve. However we continue long standing traditions of farming sustainably, and making wines with as much care and attention to detail as possible.
Although Bradford Mountain is not an official American Viticultural Area (AVA), Fred Peterson defines the appellation as bounded by Pena Creek to the north, West Dry Creek Rd to the east and Wine Creek to the south and west above the 650 feet elevation. At 1264 feet, Bradford Mountain is the highest point directly contiguous to Dry Creek Valley and juts into the valley. The mountain’s soils are ancient alluvial deposits, remains of a prehistoric sea and subsequent riverbeds pushed up by the clash of the Pacific and Continental plates. In the coastal mountains of Northern California, terrain higher than 650 feet sits above the summer fogs. The combination of morning sun and warmth allows for photosynthesis to begin earlier each day. On a typical summer day, after the fog burns off in the Dry Creek Valley and the valley warms, upslope breezes cool off the vines on the mountain. This unique combination of soil and climate produce lower vigor vines that yield less but produce more intense grapes, smaller berries that can be fully ripe yet have incredible balance.
Fred believes his sustainable farming approach results in healthy vines that produce the best wines. Fred had learned the hard way how the mountain soil’s combination of low nutrients, low organic matter, high clay and high acid added a couple of extra years for the young vines to get established. Since he didn’t use chemical fumigation to sterilize the soil prior to planting, he decided after removing the old vines to deep plow and hand pick all of the old vine roots, which removes most of the soil borne pests and toxins. Prior to plowing and root picking, he broadcast 12 tons per acre of organic compost (enriched with chicken manure), 5 tons per acre of limestone and 2 tons per acre of mined gypsum. Fred used a 3 feet deep Italian plow to incorporate these beneficial amendments deeply into the soil, creating a homogenous and ideal environment for the young vine roots to become established.
Though Fred put in a drip irrigation system for the vine establishment, his goal is to have a dry-farmed vineyard, meaning a vineyard that in most years subsists only on the winter and spring rains. (The average November to April rainfall on Bradford Mountain is 48 inches.) Fred believes that dry-farmed vineyards create more intensely flavored and better-balanced fruit at lower sugars than their over-watered counterparts.
Depending on the variety of soil, Fred is using relatively high-vigor rootstocks—110R, 1103P, 140R and St. George. He believes that the somewhat greater vigor of these rootstocks in this low vigor soil will produce vines that will achieve balance with little supplemental water and nutrients.
William Knuttel: Winemaker of our Square, Plumb & Level Dry Creek Valley Red Blend
Long time California wine-maker William Knuttel has concentrated on ultra-premium winemaking for the majority of his career. His philosophy has long been to make a wide range of wines in various styles every vintage, for the simple reason that the number of vintages for any winemaker is quite finite. This wealth of experience has led directly to his adherence to traditional winemaking practices, which lead to balanced, elegant wines that pair well with foods and have excellent aging potential—the hallmarks of classic wine.
Knuttel’s winemaking journey began at Saintsbury, where he was winemaker from 1983 to 1996 and established that brand as an international leader in high-end Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Burgundian style—and, incidentally, revolutionizing the way those varieties were produced in California. During his tenure at Saintsbury, Knuttel founded and was owner/winemaker of Tria, producing fine Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel. William Knuttel was also Vice President and Winemaker at Chalk Hill Winery from 1996 to 2003, specializing in ultra-premium Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. From 2003 to 2011 Knuttel was Executive Winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard, where he completely re-honed the styles and quality of that winery’s extensive portfolio. Knuttel was also ZAP’s winemaker in 2005, producing their Heritage Zinfandel, and President of the California Cabernet Society from 1999-2003.
William Knuttel is a long time resident of Napa Valley. His daughter Kate, a dancer, graduated from California College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, while his son Sebastian, a cellist, studied at UC Santa Cruz, receiving his BA with a major in Mathematics–both are currently part of the family business. Knuttel’s hobbies range from golf to genealogy, and he travels often to the Argentine wine region of Cafayate. As an avid music lover, Knuttel developed the Napa Valley Youth Symphony, a non-profit dedicated to bringing professional orchestral experience to talented young musicians, and he currently sits on the board of Berkeley Symphony, where William Knuttel Winery is an official sponsor.
Jarrod Boyle: Grower & Winemaker of our Good Measure Horse Heaven Hills, Destiny Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon (Photo Credit, Richard Duval)
Jarrod was born in Prosser and learned the secrets of successful vineyard management as assistant viticulturalist under the tutelage of Dr. Wade Wolfe when both worked for The Hogue Cellars. It was here that wine grape growing and winemaking became Jarrod’s passion.
While working for Hogue, Jarrod was in charge of inspecting grapes and making grower recommendations to help grape varietals achieve their desired characteristics. One day, a routine inspection of a vineyard on Horse Heaven Hills turned into a paradigm shift in Jarrod’s career and his life. It was that day he noticed a nearby piece of barren land, sloping gently to the south, overlooking the Columbia River. From that moment forward, visions of vineyard blocks danced in Jarrod’s head.
Soon after, a casual conversation with an old friend led Jarrod to telling the story of his Horse Heaven Hills land discovery and his vision of planting a vineyard there. Jarrod’s friend Rob Mercer (a member of a well-known local farming family) was almost as excited as Jarrod. The level of shared excitement escalated when Rob realized the land of Jarrod’s dream was owned by his father… Bud Mercer. Before long, the Mercer family joined with the Boyle family and the dream of a vineyard on the hillside… and Destiny Ridge Vineyard was born. The first vines were planted in the fall of 1998.
Destiny Ridge Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills
The sun, soil, slope, wind and water make our spot unique as a growing area for wine grapes. The Horse Heaven Hills American Viticultural Area is in Southeastern Washington, and borders the Yakima Valley AVA to the North and the Columbia River to the South. Elevation in this AVA ranges from 200 feet above sea level in the South to 1,800 feet above sea level at the Northern boundary; Destiny Ridge Vineyard sits at 850 feet above sea level.
The grapes planted in the South-facing slopes of the HHH benefit from strong winds that arrive from the West via the Columbia River Gorge. The wind reduces the likelihood of rot and fungal diseases taking hold and our slope combines with the wind to keep frost at bay. We enjoy very hot days and much cooler nights (diurnal shift), that gives our fruit, intense fruitiness and bright but balanced acidity.
The soil at Destiny Ridge Vineyard varies depending on where you are at in the vineyard. We enjoy five unique topography areas within our vineyard alone. This includes clay, limestone, schist (medium sized mineral rocks), and gravel along with sandy top soils. Because the HHH has a rainfall of only 6-8 inches per year (dry as the Gobi Desert), we irrigate from the Columbia River bringing water to the barren hillsides. Destiny Ridge Vineyard benefits from its proximity to the Columbia River. Although it sits approximately 800 feet above the river, the vineyard is relieved of temperature extremes suffered elsewhere in the Columbia Valley AVA, thanks to the modifying effects of the river (with its stirring of air currents) and the sloping of the land toward the river (draining cold air away from the vines).