How Our Terroir Impacts Our Wine

January 5, 2023

Our core focus at Violet Vines is to “Excite people about Oregon wine”. 

It might sound simple, but the primary way to do this is to deliver a “sense of place”, which in the language of the wine world, is the definition of “terroir”. 

As stated in a great article written by Hunter Robillard and posted on, “’Terroir’ is a French word that signifies the natural conditions of a vineyard like soil composition, elevation, sun exposure, climate, and other unique characteristics. A wine expert would define it as “a sense of place” that affects the aromas and taste of wine.”

Consistent with exciting people about Oregon wine, a key element is showcasing the terroir.  This blog is all about our two Oregon estate vineyards and their terroir.

Violet Vines Estate Vineyard (McMinnville AVA)

Nestled in the foothills of the Coast Range, our 88-acre property sits in a microclimate characterized by cooler temperatures and less precipitation.  We’re one of the most western vineyards in the McMinnville AVA with about 25 acres under vine. 

This property has AMAZING soils.  For those viticulture geeks out there, 49.2% of the property is composed of Jory silty clay loam (series 2796C, 2797D & 2797E) which has a good layer of silty clay (28 inches) and is well drained, offering good water storage (about 9.7 inches).  Another 39.1% of the property is Gellatly-Dixonville (sedimentary) complex (series 2794C, 2795D and 2795F) which is also well drained due to the presence of fractured rock. These soils are mostly composed of clay loam. 

The original vineyard block was planted in 2008 and is comprised of Pinot noir clones 777, 115 and Pommard.  This block is southwest facing and maintains about 10-15% of slope.  The 777 is planted at about 530 feet above sea level, the 115 at about 560 feet, and the Pommard tops out at about 600 feet.  Most of this block is sedimentary soil, but there are “fingers” of Jory soil in the middle. 

The rest of the vineyard was planted from 2020 through 2023. In 2020, we planted about 12 acres, including two clones of Chardonnay and three clones of Pinot noir.  With the exception of the Pinot noir Wadenswil clone, all of the 2020 plantings were in Jory soil.  

In 2022 and 2023, we planted another 11 acres.  This time, we took advantage of some of the warmer areas of the property and planted Cabernet Franc and Syrah.  We also planted more Pinot noir (Pommard and Clone 114) as well as Viognier, Chenin Blanc, and Albarino.  Most of the 2022 and 2023 plantings are in Jory soil.

As a side note, our McMinnville AVA vineyard is the future home of our winery, which is scheduled to open during this year’s harvest!

Violet Vines Set in Stone Vineyard (Milton-Freewater AVA)

In 2021 we made a discovery – ROCKS Syrah. 

It started with a four-hour (ish) road trip and in early 2022 and we purchased a small five-acre cherry orchard in the Rocks District of the Milton-Freewater AVA.  In early 2023, we’re planting Syrah and Grenache. 

We call this vineyard the Set in Stone Vineyard.  Why, you ask, or maybe you’re asking what’s this “Rocks” thing all about?  The Rocks District is a relatively small agricultural area, only about 3,800 acres, of the Milton-Freewater AVA, which is just south of Walla Walla, Washington (but on the Oregon side of the border).  Thousands of years ago, flood waters carried cobblestones down from the Blue Mountains into the area and piled them up, hundreds of feet deep.  Turns out this terroir produces incredible grapes with a unique flavor profile (some call it the “Rocks Funk”). 

If you’d like to read more about the Rocks District, click here.

Because we couldn’t wait to start producing Rocks Syrah, we purchased fruit in 2022 from the vineyard directly across the street and we can’t wait to share it in mid-2024 after spending 18 months in barrel.


Those are our two properties owned and farmed by Violet Vines.  We source fruit from three locations in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA and in 2023 we will expand our portfolio of Milton-Freewater AVA wines with more Syrah, Malbec, and possibly Grenache and Viognier.  Together, we hope these three AVAs create an incredible experience for those interested in – or already in love with – Oregon wines with Oregon-sourced fruit.


Violet Vines VIneyard
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