Averaen Croft Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
Farmed by Lee & Chancy Croft, this certified organic vineyard was planted with Pommard & Wadenswil clones in 1985 and sits at 380 feet elevation on southeast facing slopes. Bellpine soils characterize the site with silty clay loam and uplifted seabed over sandstone parent material. That marine-influenced soil paired with a microclimate that is metered and less windy than most other spots in the Willamette Valley gives the wines from this site a particular intensity and power without being overly tannic or overripe.
The seed for Averæn was planted when Baron, Noah & Steve from Banshee Wines in Sonoma attended IPNC in the Willamette Valley in 2013 as a featured winery with Banshee Wines (their Sonoma winery). They were sitting around a campfire talking about the similarities between the cold and foggy Sonoma Coast and the various sub-appellations of the Willamette Valley. Cold winds that funnel from the Pacific Ocean through low-lying gaps in the coastal mountain ranges (Van Duzer Corridor in Oregon and Petaluma Wind Gap in Sonoma); a mix of marine sedimentary and volcanic influenced soils; micro-terroirs. The similarities were shocking. They saw the potential to make wine at the very highest level, from top vineyard sites, all at a cost that was 25% less than what they were experiencing in the Sonoma Coast. Oregon reminded them of where the Sonoma Coast was 10-15 years ago. Still finding its way in terms of consistency, but when done right, way over-delivering. The quality was there in a big way, but the prices were still so reasonable.
Over the next two years, they established themselves in Oregon – developing relationships with growers, locking in grape contracts, and finding a great custom crush partner (with lots of small fermenters – a winemakers dream!). In 2016, they released their first wine – the only wine of the vintage – 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, sourced from eight vineyards across the appellation. It was an instant success nationally both in the press with 91 points out of the gate from Vinous as well as with fine wine retailers and restaurants.
Today they continue to dial in their vineyard sourcing, establishing long term contracts and relationships with a stable of top-notch growers. In addition to the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, which represents over 75% of their production, they have expanded to new varieties (Chardonnay and Riesling), added Rose to the mix, and elevated their game to include the Flood Line (“reserve”) range, and a limited selection of four-barrel single-vineyard wines.
Home of some of the planet’s most amazingly elegant and expressive Pinot noir, the Willamette Valley is a pastoral, mixed landscape of green, bucolic rolling hills, dramatic forestlands and small, independent, friendly wine growers. As a leader in environmental stewardship, the valley has some of the nation’s most protective land use policies, with two-thirds of its vineyards farmed sustainably and over half, organically. While the valley claims a cool, continental climate, and is heavily influenced by the cold, moist winds of the Pacific Ocean, its warm and dry summers allow for the steady, even ripening of Pinot noir.
The potential of Willamette Valley Pinot noir continues to attract the investment of serious growers and winemakers both locally and from abroad, as naturally the finished wines bring accolades from professionals and enthusiasts. With a range of styles from delicate dried cherry, raspberry and hibiscus to stronger notes of truffle, mocha, plum and spice, a fine Willamette Valley Pinot noir is a perfect expression of both character and grace.