Summary: On a hillside overlooking acres of vineyards, the Lenné Estate tasting room gives visitors an opportunity to taste Pinot Noir that struggled in the poor soil surrounding the tasting room. This poor soil produces exceptional Pinot Noir, as remarkable as the setting.
Steve and Karen Lutz began looking for land in Oregon in 1999. The current property was purchased and by 2000 the vineyard was begun. The name of the winery has roots in their family. Karen’s father, Lenny from England, helped the couple make a down payment on the property. It was a tribute to Lenny to call the winery Lenné.
After college, Steve (pictured left) began drinking wine. After spending time working for an oil company, Steve went to Napa Valley and worked at wineries. He had opportunities to taste wines from California that were compared to the best wines in the world. His wine journey had the family move to England and then onto Oregon. While in Oregon, Steve once again worked at wineries. After purchasing the property and planting a vineyard, the tasting room was built in 2005.
The vines are planted on a south facing slope in poor, well-drained soil. The sedimentary and volcanic soils range in elevation from 375 feet to 575 feet. An example of the soils is encased by glass and is seen under the tasting counter. The soil is poor and most crops would not do well. Grapes do like a poor soil though. The poor soil produces smaller clusters and berries, often with intense phenolics. The vineyard covers 15.5 acres. All the vines are Pinot Noir. There are five clones of Pinot Noir in the Vineyard: Pommard, 777, 115, 667 and 114. Planting began in 2001. During the early years, vines struggled and some of the vines were lost and replanted. Five years after the initial 11 acres were planted, enough fruit was harvested to vinify each clone separately.
Steve spoke about the care and maintenance of the vineyard citing it is, “intense basic farming.” He mentioned that much of the work is done by hand, “We have to touch these vines with our hands.” Steve likes the concept of a one-site Pinot Noir. The wines reflect the terroir of the site. The estate winery produces about 1,600 cases of wine. Grapes are also sold to other wineries.
We tasted six Pinot Noirs crafted with grapes from the vineyards. All the wines tasted were from the Willamette Valley AVA. The 2013 Lenez Pinot Noir was a transparent ruby color. The aroma and taste had black and red raspberries with a hint of leather. The medium to full-bodied wine had medium tannins. The finish was crisp with fruit and leather notes. The 2013 Eleanor's 114 Pinot Noir was crafted from just the 114 clone of Pinot Noir. The translucent ruby colored wine offered red fruit, predominantly red raspberries. The medium-bodied wine had medium tannins. The finish was fruity. The wine was named after Steve’s mother. The 2013 Karen’s Pommard Pinot Noir was a transparent light ruby color with a sienna hue. The wine had red raspberry notes with a touch of leather. It was medium-bodied with medium tannins. The crisp finish emphasized the red berry fruit.
The 2013 Kill Hill Pinot Noir had a transparent dark red color with a dark pink hue. Red raspberries were predominant on this wine with a medium body and medium to bold tannins. The finish was crisp and fruity. The 2012 Pinot Noir was a translucent dark red color with a dark pink hue. This wine was also predominantly red raspberries with a touch of leather. The medium-bodied wine had medium tannins. The wine had a crisp finish and a long raspberry aftertaste. The 2012 Cinq Élus Pinot Noir was a dark ruby color. The aroma had red berry fruit and sandalwood hints. Red and black raspberries were noticed on the taste along with a medium to full body and medium tannins. The fruity finish had layers of sandalwood and licorice.
Both private and corporates events are held at Lenné Estate. The spacious tasting room has a fireplace at one end and has an old-world charm. Events can also utilize outdoor seating during warmer months. The winery also hosts a winemaker’s dinner in October.
Lenné Estate emphasizes a one-site Pinot Noir. Wine enthusiasts can visit and taste the Pinot Noirs that reflect the soil and year. The tasting room is in a beautiful setting surrounded by vineyards.
18760 NE Laughlin Road
Yamhill, Oregon 97148
GPS: N45º 20.998’ W123º 07.889’
Article written December 2015
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