Winemaker/Geologist Mike Hallock has always been fascinated by rocks. His love of wine and geology collided when he tasted the pinot noirs from the boulder strewn volcanic soils of the Willamette Valley. A move from Colorado and a career change led him to a rocky hillside in the Chehalem Mountains just southwest of Portland, planting a vineyard in 1996.
Thousands of years of weathering to Oregon's lava flows yielded red, iron rich soils strewn with rounded basalt boulders. There the vine roots struggle deep into the fractured basalt, seeking out the complexity and vibrant fruit character that marks this wine. This treacherous earth is unyielding to our farming equipment. The Plowbuster story begins in the Carabella Vineyard, documented by yearly bills for equipment repairs caused by hidden basalt boulders. The most famous offender caused hidden carnage for years until one day the tractor totally hung up, revealing its lair. This boulder is the inspiration for the Plowbuster name and artwork for our label rendered by artist James Dowlen. Half a day of shovel work later, it now resides at the bottom of the vineyard, scarred but proud.
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.
Restoring native species between the rows is difficult, but important. Organic compost and dry farming (no irrigation) are part of the plan. Herbicides and pesticides are not.