In the Spring of 1990, we set about clearing the old orchard and laying out our first planting of Pommard clone Pinot...Read more...
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In the Spring of 1990, we set about clearing the old orchard and laying out our first planting of Pommard clone Pinot Noir. It had been clean cultivated with a chilling array of herbicides over the years, leaving the appearance, once the trees were gone, of a sloping baseball diamond, melting slowly in the Spring rains. The entire field needed drainage ; then a healthy crop of rye grass to hold what topsoil there was in place. In such a depleted environment, it was slow going for the vines at first. They showed signs of early drought stress in the warm, dry summers of 1990 and 1991. Then in 1992, a tiny first crop was ready for harvest... on August 21 ! the vines have slowly gained strength and maturity every since. In the evolution of vineyard layouts, the tightly spaced Pommard block at Brick House was fairly unusual for Oregon in 1990. 1600 vines per acre. Following the Burgundian model, we left only one meter between plants. But the only vineyard sized tractor John Deere produced at the time required a full eight feet between trellis rows. On deeper, more vigorous soils leaving only one meter between plants could overcrowd the trellis wires with leaves, restricting circulation in the canopy and creating a wonderful environment for mildew and other fungi to develop. But here, on the thin Willakenzie clay one meter has proved about right for the vines fruiting canes. The Pommard trellis fills each Spring with just enough leaves ... dark, richly concentrated fruit. Pommard has been our mainstay from first release in 1993 until 1998, when the Dijon block added a new dimension to Brick House Pinot Noir. The Dijon block overlooks the Chehalem valley from 440 feet on the east side of Ribbon Ridge. Like all the vineyards at Brick House, the soil maps show it as Willakenzie type. But that is not to say it is uniform in appearance. At its highest points, the soils are underlaid with bright red clay. At the lower end, a brown sedimentary soil resembles beach sand in the heat of August, long after the rains. Planted in 1995, the block's three Pinot Noir clones originated in the vineyards of the Domaine Ponsot in the village of Morey St. Denis, Burgundy. The original plant material was collected by the well known French viticulturalist Professor Raymond Bernard of the University of Dijon. The good professor must be especially disposed to collective endeavors because the clones he isolated, processed and eventually shipped to the New World are renowned today not as the Bernard Clones, but as the "Dijon Clones" of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. At any rate, we are indebted to Professor Bernard for supplying us with some of France's finest families of vines. "Les Dijonnais " at Brick House is comprised of clones 113, 114 and 115 , the bulk of which is the especially high quality, but low yielding clone # 114. They are all so humble in their yields that we had to wait until 1998 for the first opportunity to vinify the Dijon clones in fermenters of their own. That year, the vines had given us 0.45 tons per acre. And what vinification it was !
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