Lelo and Bob Kerivan first started shaking up the Oregon wine industry in 1986, when they converted a 75-acre field in Southern Oregon's Illinois Valley to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris grapes. "You're crazy!" exclaimed experienced growers, for Lelo and Bob planted dense rows of vines only six feet apart, instead of the usual 12 that prevails in the United States. "You can't fit a tractor through the rows," the naysayers continued. The Kerivans not only ignored the criticism, but ventured further from typical American grape-growing practices, pruning each vine to allow just 20 buds, instead of the usual 60 to 80. To outsiders, the couple looked like rebels without a cause.
But in fact, the "rebellious" Kerivans were acting on carefully researched plans that were deeply rooted in European tradition. Lelo had grown up in Germany, where dense planting of vineyards is a centuries-old practice. When she and Bob, a Miami air freight executive, decided to retire in the Illinois Read more »