Ribbon springs: prestigious despite its size

Ribbon Springs Vineyard and the Ribbon Ridge AVA 

In the early 2000s, a number of Willamette Valley wine industry leaders gathered to begin on a difficult task. It was broadly agreed upon that there were several small regions within the 3.4 million acre Willamette Valley that had unique qualities and potential for incredible vineyards. These leaders sat down, put pen to paper, and submitted applications for these regions to be recognized as their own American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs. The Ribbon Ridge AVA came into being on July 1, 2005. Year after year, it has proven to be one of the most prestigious AVAs in Oregon, despite being the smallest. 

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Ribbon Ridge is an ancient landmass, an island-like uplift of 50 million year old marine sediment. Although it is considered part of the larger Chehalem Mountains AVA, it is topographically separated on all sides, and is host to a unique mesoclimate, protected from weather extremes like midsummer heat-spikes. The elevation ranges from 240ft to 672ft across what is just over 5 square miles, and is home to almost 600 acres of planted vineyards, including Adelsheim's Ribbon Springs Vineyard. 

In 1995, a decade before the Ribbon Ridge AVA was officially defined, Jack and Lynn Loacker, in conjunction with David Adelsheim, purchased an ideal property, high up in the northeast corner of Ribbon Ridge. Planting it the following year, Ribbon Springs became one of the very first vineyards in this incredible pocket of the Willamette Valley. 

Adelsheim Vineyard has produced a single vineyard Pinot noir from Ribbon Springs every year since 2006. It always relies heavily on Block 1, a gorgeous block of Pommard clone Pinot noir planted in 1996, at nearly 600ft elevation with southeast aspect. The well-drained sandstone/siltstone soils, and exposure to cooling breezes produces a wine with lifted acidity and beautifully transparent ripe red fruit flavors. 

We traditionally have planted Pinot noir, and after several years, Auxerrois and Pinot gris, that was later used to graft Chardonnay. In 2016, after 20 years of tending the Ribbon Springs vineyard, we produced our very first estate single vineyard Chardonnay. Block 25 and 26, eastern exposed areas just above 500ft elevation were planted in 1997, and serve as the backbone of this wine. The unique vineyard site provides us with amazing fruit, which we carefully shepherd through the winemaking process. We employ mostly neutral French oak, and with thoughtfully applied malo-lactic fermentation, we create a wine with incredible depth and vibrancy, stunning balance, and is Adelsheim’s flagship white wine. 

These two wines now serve as two different lenses for experiencing the terroir of Ribbon Springs Vineyard. 

 
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Stephanie Maldonado