It’s All About that Dirt, ‘Bout that Dirt, ‘Bout that Dirt…
Posted on Monday, Apr 06 2015 - 12:00 am
There’s not a lot of scientific data on this, but if you talk to the moms of Oregon winemakers, chances are they’d tell you their little kiddos were impossible to keep clean. Always playing in the dirt!
Dirt is one of the big three: soil, climate, and elevation -- the things that made any wine grape producing region what it is. When wineries make a convincing case to the government (specifically, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the US Department of the Treasury) that these things converge on a certain patch of land, in a way that’s perfect for growing wine grapes, the area is declared an American Viticultural Area (AVA), and given a name that reflects its location. AVAs can range in size from almost 30,000 square miles (Upper Mississippi Valley AVA) to 189 acres (Cole Ranch AVA, Mendocino County, California).
Noble Pig wines have always been made entirely from grapes grown in the McMinnville AVA. However, our Tasting Room sits cozily on Main Street in Carlton, Oregon, in the heart of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Since there’s only about 18 miles separating the front door of Noble Pig’s tasting room from the Noble Pig vineyards, as the crow flies, you might think there wouldn’t be much difference in the landscape or the weather.
Actually, there’s a huge difference. Altogether, the McMinnville AVA boasts over 40,000 acres, 600 of which are up and running with wine producing vineyards. In dirt shop-talk, the soil underfoot in the McMinnville AVA has some of the youngest volcanic material in the Willamette Valley (shallow uplifted marine sedimentary loams and silts, with a base of uplifting basalt and alluvial overlays – if you’re into that sort of thing). The Yamhill-Carlton AVA, on the other hand, has some of the oldest soils in the Valley, very coarse broken-up ancient marine sediments that drain quickly and force the vines to burrow deep. Diggin’ in the dirt, as it were.
When you see a particular AVA on the label of a bottle of wine, that’s your assurance the wine grapes came from one particular patch of land. Even though you may be standing within the Carlton city limits when you’re poured tastes of Noble Pig wines, the grapes came from a neighboring AVA, just a little to the south and west, but a world away when it comes to the dirt that made it all possible.
We think you’ll like what comes out of our dirt.