Vineyards | Belle Pente
Belle Pente sources grapes from our estate vineyard site located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of Oregon's Willamette Valley. We also source from unique, high quality, independent vineyards.
Great Wine is Made In Great Vineyards!
Since the beginning, we've taken a two pronged approach to insuring that our winery is supplied with the finest raw materials possible. First and foremost, we selected and are developing an outstanding estate vineyard site located in the exclusive Yamhill-Carlton AVA of Oregon's Willamette Valley. During that development phase, we aggressively sought out unique, high quality, independent vineyards from which to source grapes. Most of these vineyards are over 20 years old, and all are located in Yamhill County, most within a 5 mile radius of our winery. As our estate vineyard came into production, we pruned back on purchased grapes and retained only the select few mentioned below.
The Belle Pente Estate Vineyard
Our Estate vineyard rises from 240 to 500 feet in elevation with south-east, south, and south west exposures. The second wine released from this young vineyard (our 1998 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir) was selected among the top Oregon wines of the vintage by the Wine Spectator, Steve Tanzer (International Wine Cellar), and Clive Coates (The Vine). We now have over 16 acres planted on the property, including 12 acres of Pinot Noir and 2 each of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, along with almost a half acre of Gamay Noir. All of the vineyard blocks have been farmed organically since 2000, and biodynamic techniques were adopted starting in 2005. Marcial Gonzales is our crew foreman, assisted by Eliseo Flores, Carlos Garcia, and Maria Gonzales.
The term terroir is widely used in France to describe the unique characteristics of each vineyard site. It is the magical combination of soil, microclimate, elevation, orientation to the sun, and other natural (and supernatural) factors that distinguish one vineyard from another. The Burgundians have had 600 years or so to sort out the good, great, and mediocre Pinot Noir vineyard sites along their slopes; we in Oregon have had less than 50. So while it will take several generations for us to begin to understand which are truly our "Grand Cru" vineyards, we believe that our Estate vineyard will be among them. Why, you may ask?
- Soil - The shallow willakenzie soils in our area have already begun to be recognized for their ability to produce exceptional wines, with both power and finesse. This is especially significant since most of these vineyards have been planted over the past 20 years, and are just barely coming into their own!
- Microclimate - Belle Pente sits in the middle of the horseshoe shaped Yamhill-Carlton AVA surrounding the valley carved out by the North Yamhill River. The Coast Range mountains to the west provide a "rain shadow" effect, diverting storms north and south of us. This provides a drier, warmer site than many of our neighbors, which helps ripen the grapes earlier and more consistently.
- Elevation - at 240 to 500', our vineyards are high enough above the valley floor to provide good frost protection, but not so high that the altitude delays ripening. This is a characteristic that we share with the best vineyards of Burgundy.
- Orientation - Our main Pinot Noir vineyard enjoys south, south-east, and southwest exposures to capture both morning and afternoon sun. In fact, our unobstructed exposure to the west provides up to an hour more sunlight on our vineyard than many others in the area.
- History - The Pinot Noir blocks are planted on the site of an old Italian plum orchard which was destroyed during a freak October wind storm in 1962. Old timers remember how especially delicious the plums were from this orchard, and we swear that you can taste the plums in our estate wines!
Independent Vineyards where we source our fruit
Murto Vineyard (Dundee Hills): Source for vineyard designated Pinot noir wines since 1997. 6 acres are dedicated to producing grapes for us. This is our largest non-Estate vineyard, which is managed to our specifications by owners Mike and Robin Murto with assistance from St. Joseph Orchards vineyard crews.
Bella Vida (Dundee Hills): Source of Pinot noir grapes since 2001 (primary component of our Willamette Valley bottling). Owned and managed by Steve & Allison Whiteside
Rivenwood Vineyard (Yamhill-Carlton): Source for Pinot Gris starting in 2007. 2.5 acres adjacent to our estate vineyard. Owned by Rick and Heather Karl, and managed by Belle Pente as an extension of our estate vineyard.
Hyland Vineyard (McMinnville): Source for old-vines Gewurztraminer in 2003, 2005, and 2006, and source for old-vines Riesling in 2014. 1/2 acre. Owned and managed by Laurent Montalieu.
Stag Hollow Vineyard (Yamhill-Carlton): Source for Early Muscat and Muscat Ottonel since 2005. 1/2 Acre. Owned and managed by Mark Huff and Jill Zarnowitz.