The Vineyard of Pebblestone Cellars
Set at 1650 feet above sea level, at the base of the foothills just west of Medford, Oregon, Ellis Vineyards is an almost ideal vineyard site. The vineyard is situated in the middle of an alluvial fan of soil consisting of rocky sandy loam thus providing excellent drainage for the grapes. On a walk through the vineyard, pebblestones can be readily found which led to the name for our wine produced from the property.
Ellis Vineyards is a 26-acre site of which 15-1/2 acres are currently planted with expansion capability to add about 6 more acres of vines. The vineyard was originally planted in 1997 and additional varieties were added in 2000 and 2003. The vineyard site is located on the same parallel as regions of Spain and Southern France. As such, we are finding that the grape varieties grown in the Rhone region of France and the Rioja region of Spain are well suited to the site. There are currently seven varieties in full production in the vineyard: Pinot Gris, Syrah, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Viognier. Two to three additional varieties will be planted over the next few years.
Rainfall at the vineyard is approximately 20 inches per year and the temperature ranges from lows in the 20° F range in the winter to highs of 100° F to 105° F in the hottest parts of the summer. During the growing season, we will typically have temperatures of 95° F in the day dropping down to cool nighttime temperatures of 55° F. This temperature cycling enhances the sugar-acid balance and the flavors of the grapes. Because of the elevation and the more northerly latitude, we will usually have snow in the vineyard once or twice during the winter season. The vine rows have a north-south row orientation thus providing more even sunlight on both sides of the vine rows.
Our objective in the vineyard is to grow only the finest quality grapes for Pebblestone wines. Currently, all varieties are grown on vertical shoot positioning (VSP) trellising to provide optimal sun exposure on the grapes. VSP trellising also helps to prevent disease on the vines, promote even ripening of the grapes and dramatically improve flavors and tannins.
Beginning in late February with pruning, we must pass through the vineyard over 22 times during the growing season before the grapes are ready to harvest (by hand). In addition to training the vines up through three sets of catch wires in the VSP trellis, we hedge the vines, leaf strip, and thin the crop to reach target yields per acre. The completed VSP “canopy” is shown in the summer view of the vineyard.
Harvest begins in mid to late September on the Tempranillo and Pinot Gris varieties and continues until the end of October for the Cabernet and Cabernet Franc varieties. The harvest picture of the vineyard (below) shows harvested Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at the end of October when the canopy of grape leaves have given all they can and are browning and falling off the vine.
Once harvested, our fruit is transported to the winery for crushing and the start of the winemaking process. We hope that you will enjoy the resulting wines that are created from the “fruits of our labors.”