Merriam-Webster defines terroir as “The combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that gives wine grapes their distinctive character.” Oxford breaks it down as “the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.”. We hear the word terroir used a lot in the wine realm, but what’s it all about? Terroir is arguably the most fascinating and misunderstood component of winemaking and tasting. In our new “Terroir Talks” series, let’s dive in together, shall we?
When tasting and comparing wines, you’ll notice that they can be primarily cooked or fresh fruit-forward, higher or lower in alcohol, soft or sharp, acidic or sweet. What causes these differences? The ever-changing weather conditions for any given region will greatly affect a wine’s terroir and hence, its taste, mouthfeel, and alcohol content. Soil also affects terroir, bringing wet stone, concrete, and mineral flavors to the foreground. Altitude is yet another factor, potentially highlighting the fruit and floral characteristics, and greatly influencing a wine’s acidity.
Here in the Willamette Valley—specifically, within the Laurelwood District AVA, our 50-acre vineyard is located in the newest federally approved American Viticultural Area (AVA). Referring to the Willamette Valley AVA, wine pro, and host of Amazon’s #1 wine program, V is for Vino, Vince Anter says “The Willamette Valley is one of my favorite American wine regions. The long, cool growing season means the wines have this really nice blend of old-world terroir, coupled with new-world fruit ripeness.” Vince continues “Some people argue whether terroir really affects wine and its flavor, but when you taste Willamette wines, you can really understand that it does.”
It’s no secret that die-hard wine enthusiasts and amateur sippers alike have taken note of the wines produced here in the Willamette Valley. Nestled in the bosom of the Chehalem Mountains Sub-AVA, our vines were planted on southeast-facing slopes back in 1991. The moderate elevation ensures optimal ripening, while the position protects our vines from high Summertime heat. Laurelwood AVA is known for its extraordinary Laurelwood soils, made of 15 million-year-old basalt base with windblown silt known as loess. This top layer has accumulated over the past 200,000 years; combined with the underlying volcanic/Jory sub-soil, it’s known for excellent fruit production.
Hawks View’s 23 different blocks are planted on assorted clone/rootstock combinations at various elevations and orientations. The soil provides a distinctive flavor profile for the Pinot noir grapes grown here. Our winemaker, Don Crank, III, shares:
"The oldest vines on the vineyard from the 80's plantings have a concentrated floral aroma. Rose petal to a very intense hibiscus seems to emerge from these older Pinot noir blocks as the vintages unfold. For some of the younger Dijon clone blocks, the effect of the terroir is more subtle. The bolder, concentrated blue and black fruit of the clones seems to veil the pretty red fruit qualities that the Laurelwood soils provide in the most expressive vintages.”
Ready to do some tasting? Check out a bottle of our Barrel Select Pinot Noir—made from an eclectic mix of clones, aged in barrels of different ages and toasts, this delicious wine is a true expression of our 50-acre estate in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Try a bottle today, then share your terroir tasting notes with us via email, or tag us in a social media post.
Call 503-625-1591 to make your reservation to visit our Tasting Room, and join the Hawks View Winery Wine Club to take advantage of member perks like a 20% discount on wine, merchandise, and event tickets, as well as 25% off full case purchases.
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