A Labor of Love
Winemaker/Geologist Mike Hallock has always been fascinated by dirt. His love of wine and geology collided when he tasted the pinot noirs from the boulder strewn volcanic soils of the Willamette Valley. A career change led him to a rocky hillside in the Chehalem Mountains just southwest of Portland, planting the vineyard in 1996. After making Carabella Estate wines from 1998-2005, the 2006 vintage offered a number of barrels that were very pleasing after only ten months in barrel. This was the good fortune that allowed him to craft the first vintage of Plowbuster. From vintage to vintage, we may also balance Plowbuster with grapes from some of our other favorite Willamette Valley vineyards, but the emphasis is always volcanic.
The Story Behind the Label
Thousands of years of weathering to Oregon's lava flows yielded red, iron rich soils strewn with rounded basalt boulders. This treacherous earth is unyielding to our farming equipment. Generations of broken bits of steel are scattered throughout the vineyard. The actual boulder rendered by artist James Dowlen was discovered by just such an encounter. It still resides, scarred but proud, near the top of the vineyard.
The Columbia River basalts flowed across the Oregon landscape 15 million years ago.While cooling and weathering, they developed networks of deep vertical fractures creating wonderful pathways for the winter rains of the Willamette Valley to follow. Our vine roots seek out this stored moisture during the dry, sunny summer, never needing irrigation. This soil structure also showcases the diverse vintages our weather offers every year. The wines we grow in this red, iron rich, volcanic soil elicit juicy red fruit, and complex tannin and balance, creating a wine to savor any night of the week.