Nicolas Jay in Forbes
Southwest of McMinnville, the Oregon Coast Range descends in gentle foothills to the Willamette Valley floor. Nestled in these hills are the vineyards that make up the McMinnville AVA – some 700 acres of a potential 40,000 are under vine. Ancient stands of Oregon White Oak share hillsides with these vineyards – including the 220+ acre Momtazi Vineyard, source for one of three Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs released to Confrérie members earlier this Spring, and generally available to the public now.
Owned by Moe Momtazi, this vineyard, the largest in the AVA, sits on more than 500+ acres of farmland. The Momtazis are rigorous in their application of biodynamic agriculture, and thus apply no pesticides or herbicides in the vineyards.
Momtazi Vineyard’s unique and diverse geology resembles the wider McMinnville AVA. Pockets of the vineyard reflect the soils of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA to its north, with loose, dark 30-million-year-old seabed sandstone rising to the vineyard surface. Jory and Nekia, the weathered basalt associated with Dundee and Eola-Amity Hills AVA appear in portions of the vineyard as well. Most notable, however, is the presence of an ancient basalt, the remnant of a marine volcanic archipelago which accreted to the North American continent more than 50 million years ago. Extremely thin soils often reveal this hard rock protruding to the surface and play a part in the naturally low yields of this vineyard.
We source the grapes for our Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir from near the top of this sprawling estate – the “C Block,” which sits on Jory soil at 700+ feet elevation. At this elevation, Momtazi and other vineyards in the AVA receive the brunt of the Van Duzer winds, which funnel through a low pass in the nearby Coast Range to cool the Willamette Valley late in the summer. Low yields and large diurnal fluctuations (the difference between day and nighttime temperatures) produce grapes naturally high in acidity, with developed tannin and potential for long-term bottle ageing.