The Low Down on High Yields: Challenging Yield-Quality Standards for Oregon Pinot Noir

Oregon Pinot noir producers are known for their attention to detail in vineyard management and wine production. It is their uncompromising standards that lead them to the premium quality for which the industry is known. Perhaps the strongest standard has been the adherence to low tonnage guidelines across vineyards and regions in order to achieve maximum quality. How much has the yield per acre metric increased wine quality, and is there room for improvement on these standards? These questions will be addressed through results from the Statewide Crop Load Project, a large-scale industry collaborative research initiative led by OSU Viticulturist Patty Skinkis and more than 20 collaborators in Oregon. This session will include a tasting of six wines, while a panel of collaborating winemakers and viticulturists share their perspective on the wines and the impacts that this research has had on their winery’s production.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Patty Skinkis is Viticulture Extension Specialist and Associate Professor at Oregon State University where she conducts applied research and provides outreach and education programs for the Oregon winegrape industry. She has a BS in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a PhD in Horticulture (Viticulture) from Purdue University. Her research program focuses on whole plant physiology studies that are designed to understand the causes and management of vine vigor, physiology of vine balance and their impacts on fruit composition and wine quality.
Chad Douglas has been viticulturist/vineyard manager for Chehalem Wines for seven vintages. He has a practical, agricultural up-bringing coupled with more than seven years viticultural experience from Central Otago, New Zealand and Europe, complemented by a Master’s of Science degree. Chad’s master’s degree researched the climatic limits of viticulture in New Zealand.
Wynne Peterson-Nedry graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a degree in chemistry in 200. Wynne went on to experience several careers in the outside world before admitting to the fact that her heart resided in the Oregon wine country. She graduated with a master’s degree from UC Davis’ Viticulture & Enology program in 2008 and has worked multiple harvests around the world including two vintages in New Zealand, one in Burgundy and one in California. She officially joined the Chehalem family as assistant winemaker in June 2009, and became winemaker in 2012.
The seed for a career in wine was planted squarely in Bourbon country of Lexington, Kentucky. While waiting tables to put himself through school, Ken was exposed to fine wines from regions around the world. The passion became avocation when Ken left the Bluegrass State to attend enology and viticulture classes at UC-Davis. Eight years were spent winemaking for Ventana Vineyards and Talbott Vineyards in Monterey County of California’s central coast. Friends from the Willamette Valley piqued Ken’s interest in the region when they would visit, and a trip to the Northern Willamette Valley in 1982 convinced him that this was where the finest Pinot noir in North America was being grown.

In 1986, with family, belongings and 10 barrels in tow, Ken moved to McMinnville and created Panther Creek Cellars. His concept of focusing on vineyard-designate bottling began during those years at Panther Creek and was cemented as a core philosophy in 1994 when Ken Wright Cellars was founded in historic downtown Carlton.

Given his appreciation of sense of place, it was a given that Ken would contribute to the locations and industry near and dear to his heart. Instrumental in organizing the six new American Viticultural Area (AVA) s in the Northern Willamette Valley that define in detail the distinct growing areas within the region, he wrote the proposition for the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and served as the association’s first President. Ken was also a founding member and chair of SALUD, a partnership between Pinot noir producers, Medical Teams International and Tuality Hospital to provide free health and dental care for the seasonal workers who tend our vineyards.

Gina Hennen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Reed College and an AAS in Winemaking from Chemeketa. Before transitioning to a career in winemaking, she worked as a semiconductor engineer for seven years in both Oregon and Dublin, Ireland. Desiring a career that no longer involved cubicles, she returned to Oregon in early 2006 to establish roots in the wine industry.
Gina joined our cellar crew in the spring of 2007; she was promoted to Cellar Master that same year. In spring of 2011, she was again promoted, this time to Assistant Winemaker. And in 2015 was named Adelsheim’s Associate Winemaker.
She is active in Oregon’s wine community, serving on the OWB Research Committee, LIVE Winery Committee, and the IPNC Program Committee. Gina is a trial presenter at both the IQ Conference and Oregon wine Industry Symposium.
Kelli Wagner earned a Masters in Horticulture with an emphasis in Viticulture from Oregon State University in 2012 and a Bachelor of Science in Plant Science from the University of Missouri in 2009.

Kelli joined the Adelsheim team as a grower relations and viticulture technician in June of 2012 and was promoted to Assistant Vineyard Manager in 2015. In 2017 Kelli was named Adelsheim’s Vineyard Manager.

She serves on the Oregon Wine Board Research Committee and the Oregon Wine Symposium Planning Committee, and has traveled to Napa Valley for the last two years to present experimental trials at the Wine Business Innovation and Quality Symposium. She was also a presenter at the 2016 Oregon Pinot Camp vineyard seminars.

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