OUR WINEMAKING

Fostering A Sense Of Place

The fundamentals of the Cristom winemaking style are rooted in tradition. We bring together time honored methods – site selection, low yields, use of whole clusters and natural fermentation from native yeast – to express the place in which the wines are grown. We know wine quality is predominantly determined in the vineyard which allows our winemaking team to carefully translate the origin of the fruit and the unique fingerprint of the vintage with thoughtful, neo-classical techniques.
Barreling decision making at Cristom Vineyards

The winemaking team at Cristom Vineyards may be one of the most experienced, qualified and dynamic groups in the wine industry today. We collectively have over 200 years of experience farming and making wines from our estate in the Eola-Amity Hills. With the same family ownership since 1992, our team is a combination of original employees and a second-generation blending know-how, education and talent to craft benchmark Pinot Noir for the region and steward this land into the future.

Meet Our Winemaking Team

The story of the Cristom winemaking style begins before our first vintage in 1992 and ties together some of the greatest wineries on the planet. Our original winemaker, Steve Doerner, first made the wines at Calera Wine Company from 1978-1991 establishing his reputation for making single vineyard Pinot Noirs. Early in his career, Calera owner Josh Jenson arranged for Steve to travel to Burgundy to stay with Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac in Morey-Saint-Denis, France. It was the trip to Domaine Dujac that helped to shape Steve Doerner’s winemaking philosophies that have built the framework of the Cristom style. Guided by patience and the use of natural yeasts and whole clusters to express distinctive single vineyard sites remain the central tenets of our winemaking.

Winemakers taste wines in the cellar at Cristom Vineyards

We have been crafting Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley since our first vintage in 1992 and our first estate Chardonnay from Louise Vineyard in 1995. At the epicenter of the program today, is our Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay built around the balance of generous, floral fruit and the structure of brilliant acidity that leads to the refreshing longevity in the wines we seek. Picking decisions are mostly based on bright fresh flavors that deliver a vibrant and mouthwatering acid profile in the juice. When Daniel Estrin joined our team as Winemaker and Vineyard Manager in 2019 after a strong career working with Ted Lemon at Littorai, working with distinctive single vineyard sites of Chardonnay became as important to Cristom as Pinot Noir.

Using Whole Clusters is the hallmark of the Cristom winemaking style

The effects of whole clusters are wide ranging, reflective of the vineyard and the vintage and are at the heart of the Cristom winemaking style. Whole clusters bring another level of complexity to the aromatics and an additional dimension of tannin to the palate and help the wines to better express the identity of their terroirs. Whole cluster fermentations can produce a dynamic and expansive range of spicy aromatics like crushed pepper, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, herbaceous notes of tobacco and black tea, and earthy aromas reminiscent of the forest floor. With more whole berries staying intact, the whole cluster brings a natural carbonic fermentation effect to the resulting wine furthering aromatic complexity. An ancient technique, the stems can provide additional tannin to the structure of the wine allowing for greater age ability. Our choice to include whole bunches is dependent on the specific site, the growing season and the age of the vines and we typically destem roughly half of the fruit. Each vintage, the estate single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir are between 40%-50% whole clusters in the final blends contributing to the depth and purity of the wines.

Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir

Our flagship wine, Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir, is a combination of barrels from benchmark vineyards around the Eola-Amity Hills AVA with a focus on the Cristom estate.

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ESTATE-FOCUSED PINOT NOIR

Eileen VINEYARD

Wine Info

Situated at 45.04 degrees North, Eileen Vineyard is the highest point in the Eola-Amity Hills at its latitude and the highest elevation plantings on the Cristom estate. With direct views east to the Cascades and west to the Oregon Coast Range, Eileen is most impacted by the cooling Pacific Ocean winds helping to preserve acidity and intensify skin tannin. The wines are fruit driven with a frame of red and dark cherries and structured around finely textured and persistent tannins accentuated by impressive, succulent acidity.

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Bottle of Cristom Jessie Vineyard Pinot noir

Jessie VINEYARD

Wine Info

Among the steepest vineyards in Oregon, the dramatic east-facing slope of Jessie Vineyard delivers our most distinctive single vineyard Pinot Noir on the Cristom estate. Among our most floral and savoury wines, Jessie Vineyard is often defined by an array of wild roses and a violet-like thread accented by notes of forest undergrowth, mushrooms, and complex sweet herbs wrapped around a core of red berries and dark cherries.

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Bottle of Cristom Louise Vineyard Pinot noir

Louise VINEYARD

Wine info

An extraordinarily geologically complex site, the vines of Louise Vineyard are collectively the oldest on the Cristom estate first established in 1993. With vine age comes balance, depth and intensity of flavor and a purity of raspberry and blackberry fruit in the wines. Lower on the hillside and protected from the strongest Pacific Ocean winds, the tannins can be serious but refined and softly textured leading to a concentrated and layered finish.

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Bottle of Cristom Marjorie Vineyard Pinot noir

Marjorie Vineyard

Wine Info

Marjorie Vineyard is an east-facing slope of predominantly consistent volcanic soil in the mid slope of the Cristom estate. The wines of Marjorie Vineyard can typically be defined by their layered, seamless texture and a purity of attractive red fruits of strawberries and cherries complimented by an array of flowers on the nose reminiscent of peonies, violets and roses. Often restrained and elegant at the front of the palate, the tannins can build to be more encompassing balanced by concentrated fruit and succulent acidity.

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Bottle of Cristom Paul Gerrie Vineyard Pinot noir

Paul Gerrie Vineyard

Wine Info

First established in 2014 over deep, well drained volcanic soils, the wines of Paul Gerrie Vineyard are precise with focused red and dark cherries, raspberries and wild berries. There is a freshness to the young vine fruit that leads to finely textured and layered tannins that resonate with ample volume. The attractive focused fruit drives the flavors of the palate and are complimented by red flowers, black tea and a persistent minerality on the finish.

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CHARDONNAY

Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay

Wine Info

We believe Chardonnay from the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon can be among the most inspiring wines in the world. The Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay is the flagship white wine of Cristom Vineyards aiming to be a definitive cool climate American Chardonnay delivering a balance of fresh citrus and floral components, texture and mouthfeel built on a cornerstone of brilliant natural acidity. The wine is a collection of barrels from sites of distinction with a focus of the fruit coming from our estate Louise Vineyard, Eileen Vineyard and Paul Gerrie Vineyard. After natural fermentation in barrel, the wine spends 11 months in 20% new French Oak where it undergoes a full malolactic fermentation and ages sur lie helping to showcase creaminess and weight in the mid-palate. Concentrated, textured and layered, the wines finish with salinity and a structured mineral edge.

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Louise Vineyard Chardonnay

Wine Info

The Louise Vineyard Chardonnay is just one ½ acre of Dijon clone 95 on the northern edge of Louise Vineyard predominantly planted on a moderately shallow, gravelly volcanic soil known as Ritner. The east-facing block is densely planted rising up the hillside from 320 to 370 feet delivering a fruit profile of fresh citrus, white peaches, lemon rind, orange blossom, nectarines and apricots. Aromatically complex, the wines are elegantly perfumed of honeysuckle, baking spices, Meyer lemons and stone fruits. Concentrated with multiple layers of generous texture giving weight to the mouthfeel are balanced by energetic acidity that persists through a long finish.

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Other Wines

Bottle of Willamette Valley Cristom Pinot noir

Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Wine Info

The Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a collection of barrels from benchmark vineyards across the valley, including our own estate, declassified to make one compelling blend representing the finest expression of the vintage.  Each barrel of this wine receives the same immaculate care and attention to detail as the wines chosen to go into our Mt. Jefferson Cuvée and single vineyard wines only crafted to represent the larger Willamette Valley AVA.

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AVA Series & Old-Vine SERIES PINOT Noir

Wine Info

From our first vintage in 1992, we have had the opportunity to work with some of the finest vineyard sites in the Willamette Valley. As those vines have aged and the AVA’s have expanded, we have deepened our efforts to showcase some of these sites of distinction from outside of the Eola-Amity Hills. We craft an AVA Series of Pinot Noir from the Dundee Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton viticultural areas and a single vineyard Old-Vine Series of Pinot Noir from Arcus Vineyard, Canary Hill Vineyard, Hyland Vineyard, Meredith Mitchell Vineyard and Ridgecrest Vineyard.

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Louise Vineyard Syrah

Wine Info

In 2002 we grafted Syrah to vines on the lower slope of Louise Vineyard in one of the warmest spots on the farm. Situated at 300 feet the 470 clone of Syrah is planted in Woodburn soil, which is very deep and well-drained soil that formed in the Missoula Flood silts sitting over weathered basalt bedrock. Our Louise Vineyard Syrah can have expansive aromas of ripe black and blue fruits, green and black peppercorns, olive tapenade, bacon fat, and a violet floral quality. Medium bodied on the palate, the blackberry fruit is typically pronounced and combines with a ripe cherry core, cola berries, spices and black currants that linger through a long finish with fine and integrated tannins.

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Eola-Amity Hills Rosé of Pinot Noir

Wine Info

The Eola-Amity Hills Rosé of Pinot Noir is a focused and fruit-driven wine from a collection of vineyards across the AVA. Hand-picked during harvest with an aim to preserve natural acidity, the grapes are gently pressed for a short period of time and transferred to stainless steel to ferment naturally with native yeast. Bright strawberry and watermelon flavors are bracketed by an elegant texture and dry finish with pleasing acidity that persists displaying refreshing minerality.

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Cristom Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Gris Estate 2019 bottle

Louise Vineyard Pinot Gris

Wine Info

Two clones of Pinot Gris were planted between 1995-1996 to the lowest slope of Louise Vineyard entirely on sedimentary soils known as Dupee and Wellsdale. A gentle slope rising from 200 to 285 feet, the Louise Vineyard Pinot Gris can be pronounced aromatically of citrus, white peaches, Bosc pears, gardenias and Lily of the Valley. Flavors of Gala apples, citrus-rind, cantaloupe and honeydew melon on the palate help to bring a refreshing and zesty finish that compliment a mineral driven and saline quality that calls for food.

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Louise Vineyard Viognier

Wine Info

First established in 1993, the estate Viognier vines planted to the east facing hillside of Louise Vineyard are among the oldest of the varietal in the Willamette Valley. Rising from 285 feet to over 355 feet the Viognier is predominantly planted over basalt soils that are shallow and stony at the top of the hill and get deeper moving down the hillside. Aromatically complex, the wine exudes characteristics of a white flower bouquet redolent of jasmine, gardenia and honeysuckle and complemented by white peaches, apricots and tropical fruits on the palate. With good texture in the mid palate, the balanced wine can linger finishing with bright and mouth-watering acidity.

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