Shea Estate Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard (stained label) 2009
Shea Vineyard, located in the Yamhill Foothills of Oregon's Willamette Valley, was first planted to wine grapes by Dick Shea in 1989 and 1990. Today the vineyard property consists of 200 hillside acres of which 140 are planted to wine grapes, largely Pinot Noir and a few acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The south facing vineyard sits in a viticultural region called the Willakenzie District. The soil of the vineyard is shallow and very well draining with sandstone subsoil. The vineyard has never been irrigated.
Currently the winery supplies several top Pinot Noir producers in Oregon (Archery Summit, Beaux Freres, Ken Wright, Panther Creek, and St. Innocent) and one in California (Sine Qua Non). The Wine Enthusiast in its annual review of Oregon wines in December 2000, wrote, "It is no coincidence that our two top rated wines... were made from fruit from Richard Shea's perennially superb Willamette Valley vineyard."
Yamhill-Carlton, characterized by pastoral, rolling hills composed of shallow, quick-draining, ancient marine soil, is ideal for Pinot noir and other cool-climate-loving varieties. It is in the rain shadow of the Coast Range to its west, whose highest point climbs to an altitude of 3,500 feet. Yamhill-Carlton is actually surrounded by mountains on three sides: Chehalem Mountains to the north, the Dundee Hills to the east and the western Coast Range to its west, which, when it lets Pacific air through, serves to cool the region.
Vineyards grow on the ridges surrounding the two small communities of Yamhill and Carlton and cover about 1,200 acres of this 60,000 acre region, which roughly makes a horse-shoe shape on a map.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”