Why The Rocks (District)?

May 14, 2024

We’ve made no secret about our love of the northern Willamette Valley! Its Pinot noir and Chardonnay are world-class, with more and more varietals thriving in this exceptional wine-growing region. April and I had a dream to produce amazing Pinot and Chardonnay but we got the opportunity to experience cooler-weather Syrah and Cabernet Franc also grown in the Willamette Valley – hence Phase 2 of our expansion in the McMinnville AVA went that direction.
I can’t exactly remember where we were, but I think it was a local restaurant here in the McMinnville area where we experienced a “Rocks” Syrah (by “Rocks” I mean The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA, located in Oregon just south of Walla Walla, Washington). The flavor profile was exceptional and unique (more on that in a minute). The next day, I did a little research, and less than three weeks later we packed the car and drove four hours for a visit.
Put it this way, the visit was so amazing we started looking at possible new vineyard locations in The Rocks. Fast forward, we found an old Cherry Orchard across the street near prestigious vineyards with a long history of producing amazing wines. After purchasing the five-acre orchard, we removed the trees and in the Spring of 2022, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre vines were in the ground.
Note – If you’d like to learn more about The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA, visit the website, it’s packed with information on the terroir, geologic history and of course, the vineyards and wineries.
One thing I found interesting was that in the process of removing the trees and prepping the vineyard, the cobblestone volcanic stones seemingly disappeared! No, people didn’t come shopping for souvenirs when visiting our neighbors; rather, a thin layer of soil covered them up which, after rain in the off season, settled back in revealing the top layer of nearly 200 feet deep of stacked cobblestones.

The typical flavor profile of a Rocks District of Milton Freewater AVA Syrah – or most red varietals – is characterized by intense and concentrated dark fruit flavors such as blackberry, blueberry, and plum, often accompanied by savory notes of smoked meat, bacon fat, and black pepper. These wines are known for their rich, earthy undertones, with hints of minerals and a distinctive sense of terroir derived from the unique basalt cobblestone soils of the region. Additionally, these wines may exhibit floral aromas, like violet, and a touch of spice, contributing to their complex and layered profile. Overall, Rocks District wines are often bold, full-bodied with firm tannins and a lingering finish.

While we waited for our vines to produce fruit, we purchased grapes from others, specifically Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. In 2022, we purchased our first Syrah from Dana Dibble’s Freewater Rocks vineyard. The fruit didn’t disappoint, and we bottled the wine in March 2024. We started pouring it at recent events and in our tasting room, and it’s flying off the shelves. It will be available in our online store June 2024.

Our wine club members are aware of exclusive wines available only to them, which we call Ultra Violets. These are our reserve wines made in the Willamette Valley. In early 2025, we will bottle our first Rocks District reserve wine from the 2023 vintage, but these will be called Infrareds! We just did a barrel sample and it’s already dazzling.

If you’re looking for any recommendations during your next visit to The Rocks District or Walla Walla, reach out to us and we’d be happy to help!

Share This Post
Newsletter Signup