Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, September 09, 2022, Page 7, Image 7

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    Friday, September 9, 2022
Vitis Ridge Winery & Meridian Estate
Vineyard: From geology to viticulture
For the Capital Press
You might say Chris Deckel-
mann’s career path came out
of left fi eld.
After graduating in geol-
ogy, Deckelmann became
an exploration geologist in
Alaska, but once he married,
being away from home four
months a year lost its appeal.
He returned to the Silver-
ton area and went to work for
Kraemer Farms in Mt. Angel.
“I was out there hoe-
ing broccoli or working in
the strawberries, which they
probably had more of than
anybody in the Willamette
Valley,” Deckelmann said. “A
college degree and I was just
out there in the fi elds with my
Brenna Wiegand/For the Capital Press
dog, doing piecework.”
Then in the late 1970s Chris Deckelmann visits with wine tasters at Vitis Ridge
Kraemer Farms bought an Winery.
11-acre vineyard, their fi rst.
He owns 70 acres of vine- cases of wine in several
“I started learning about
grapes because they told me to yards and, with son Brian varieties.
“A nice thing about having
take it over,” Deckelmann said. Deckelmann,
“They didn’t know anything another 300 acres in the area. so many varietals is that we
about it; I didn’t know anything About 95% of his fruit is sold get a lot of people that have
no experience wine tasting,”
about it; and we didn’t have to other wineries.
Deckelmann had been Everest said. “A lot of folks
Google, but they were so nice.
They’d send me down to (the a hobby winemaker for 20 want to start with sweeter
University of California-Davis) years before opening Vitis wines, but I try and get them
to run the gamut.
for seminars and that’s where I Ridge Winery in 2003.
Being in the thick of the
“I have them smell it fi rst;
got my start.”
Some 40 years later, Krae- wildfi res, 2020 was a low then look at it for visual clues,
mer Farms has some of the production year, but last year such as legs or banding on
largest vineyards in the area Vitis Ridge produced about the surface,” Everest said.
and Deckelmann and his wife 2,200 cases as well as “bulk- “When you taste it, you’re
trying to identify three things:
Sharon have a brisk business ing out” wine.
This year, with bringing in a fruit, a spice and then one
of their own.
Deckelmann started plant- some fruit from other regions, last thing, such as what the
ing his own vines in 1992. He they’ve cellared about 3,800 fi nish is like.”
was one of the fi rst in Ore-
gon to plant Marechal Foch,
a French-American hybrid
with red skin and red fl esh,
Branson Tractors
and was at one point its larg-
designed their compact
tractors with rugged
est producer in the U.S.
dependability in mind.
“It’s very dark in color;
a little more herbal; a little
• Cast Iron Housings,
more mineral,” tasting room
Metal Hood & Fenders
manager Brian Everest said.
• Hydrostatic Steering With 2 Hydraulic Pumps • Wet Disc Brakes
“We sell a lot of it to places
that will add it to Pinot noir or
even cabs to boost color and
541-342-5464 • 5450 W. 11 TH , EUGENE OR
fl avor.”
Basalt Cellars: Growers put
their vineyards together
For the Capital Press
— Business partners Rick
Wasem and Lynn DeV-
leming have vineyards
near Clarkston, Wash., and
founded Basalt Cellars in
“Clarkston was a big
grape-growing area 130
years ago — originally
called Vineland because
there were so many grape-
vines,” Rick said, add-
ing that the local ceme-
tery is still called Vineland
“My great-grandfather
had a vineyard here in the
early 1900s,” he said.
Rick’s vineyard is on 8.5
acres on a steep slope above
the Snake River.
“This slope is good for
quality grapes, but it’s hard
to take care of them,” he
He is a pharmacist and
has a chemistry background.
“I got the vineyard started
in 1997 and kept adding to it
over the next 12 years,” he
says. It’s now 4 acres.
“My vineyard is only 900
feet above sea level. In our
area we get about 12 inches
Basalt Cellars
Rick Wasem and Lynn
DeVleming of Basalt
Cellars near Clarkston,
of rain, but my vineyard gets
about 9 inches,” he said.
Grapes like heat, and
when temperatures get up
around 100 degrees there’s
less risk for diseases.
“It keeps the canopy dry
inside,” he said.
Last year, however, was
a diff erent story.
“We had early heat, how-
ever,” he said. “It was 120
degrees the end of June and
shut down development.
The grapes never got very
big. Crops here were about
60% of normal.”
He grows mostly red
wine grapes, and has the
typical Bordeaux varietals
such as Cabernet Sauvi-
gnon, Cabernet Franc, Mer-
lot, Malbec and Petit Ver-
dot. Some of these are used
in a vineyard blend.
He also has some Rhone
varietals such as Syrah,
Grenache and Mourvedre,
which he blends.
Lynn has about 3 acres
of Bordeaux red grapes.
“We use all of hers and
mine, and also have some
contracts with high-end
growers around the state,”
Rick said.
“We produce about
2,000 cases of wine, and
most sales are through our
tasting room, direct to cus-
tomers. We also distribute
through north Idaho and
Montana and ship wine to
42 states.”
For a small winery,
Basalt has a good follow-
ing, he said.
“Our prices are on the
low side for Washington
state, partly because we
are not in Walla Walla or
Woodinville, the two big
wine village areas. We price
wine for our own commu-
nity,” he said.
The Valley’s trusted source for winemakers for 25 years
1819 NE Baker St. McMinnville