Cristom Vineyards named 2023 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Winery of the Year


Jessie Vineyard, first planted in 1994, was named for founder Paul Gerrie’s paternal grandmother Jessie Sommers Gerrie and produced its first single vineyard Pinot Noir from the 1998 vintage. Dramatically steep in places with a diverse range of volcanic soils, Jessie may be the most distinctive vineyard site on the Cristom estate.

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Along the top ridge of Jessie is a weathered volcanic soil known as Witzel that in places seems as though the weather scraped the soil away and is shallower than one foot deep. The vines really struggle here producing fewer and smaller clusters and berries and a naturally low set leads to concentrated and dark wines with firm tannic structure and a powerful mouth-feel.
Facing due East and capturing the morning sun, the hill extends out just 60 feet or so, has a slight ramp down and then drops off a 30-35% grade cliff that falls all the way to the bottom of the vineyard. Your legs hurt when you walk up and down this hill. It is dramatic with its soil range in that throughout the steep hillside the vines are planted to deeper volcanic soils such as Jory and Nekia that can be as great as six feet deep.
In these deep soils the vines produce more red fruited and higher toned floral flavors and aromas. The richness of Jessie in the glass is the combination of the dark blackberry and red cherry fruits that have intensity combined with elegant and refined qualities giving you a good feeling about taking in breath after breath. Jessie nearly always exudes purple flower aromas that when revealed is an identifiable note that makes it distinctively all its own. When we talk about soil, and terroir, and how the ground impacts the wines, Jessie has it in spades. It has that some-where-ness that we are all seeking to show in our wines – that what your tasting is more about the place you are tasting over what the clones are or even how the wine was made and trying to embrace and express that in the glass to share.
Along with the signature purple floral note, Jessie always reminds us of savory scents and flavors that range from beef tartare to a cabinet of spices. It is often deep, brooding, and succulent, and yet always balanced by the ever-present floral qualities and equally framed by solid tannin and acid structure.
Perhaps our most challenging vineyard to farm by hand with over 26,600 vines planted at such a steep grade, and it can be our most dynamic and distinctive single vineyard every year with a sincere signature. Over the last twenty years, if we look at the cumulative total Jessie has been, and perhaps rightly so, receiving much of the acclaim of the single vineyards. It has developed a real following in the food and wine communities and we have seen some of our greatest acclaim in company history in the last five years including a full length bottle shot on the cover of Decanter magazine.

At A Glance:

Acres: 11.53 (4.67 hectares) 

Elevation: 345 feet to 565 feet (105 m to 172 m) 

Soils: Columbia River Basalts, including: Jory, Saum, Nekia, Gelderman, Ritner and Witzel.  

Aspect: east; southeast  

Established: 1994 

Vine Density: 2,311 vines/acre (5,710 vines/hectare) 

Varietals: Pinot Noir 

Clones: Pommard and Dijon clones 113, 114, 115, 667, 777 

First Vintage: 1998 

“This dramatically steep site delivers a wine of real personality and distinctiveness. The nose has a very layers mix of red cherries and berries with some plums, leaves, dry stones, forest wood and a wealth of sweetly fragrant spices. The palate holds such intensity and concentrated flavor with striking focus and drive. Mouthwateringly fresh red-cherry flavors are delivered in essence-like mode and hold long, on a super vibrant, explosive finish. The star of 2018 at Cristom and indeed for Willamette Valley pinot per se.”


Current Releases From Jessie Vineyard

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