Producer web site
From the standpoint of its layout,
the Bishop Creek vineyard is a little
quirky. But the fruit it grows is something
really special. I have gotten to
work with Pinot from around Oregon
and also in New Zealand. The Bishop
Creek has its own unique signature – it’s
dark in color and has healthy tannins,
but it’s never “monolithic.” The best wines from the
vineyard have layers of flavor, with darker fruit tones and
spice elements often complementing each other.
So what makes Bishop Creek so good?
Microsites: Bishop Creek Farms is about 80 acres total.
However, only 12 acres are planted to grapes, while the
rest function as pasture and wildlife habitat. Within
these 12 acres, there are 7 distinctive microsites, each
with their own soil and aspect. 14 separate planting
blocks have been tailored to take advantage of each
Varieties: We grow 3 varieties of grapes at Bishop
Creek, Pinot noir, Pinot gris, and a small amount of Pinot
Area: Bishop Creek is in the Yamhill-Carlton District
American Viticultural Area. Wines from this area feature
dark color and concentrated color tones. Other noted
vineyards in the YC District include Willakenzie Estate,
Shea, McCrone, Guadelupe, Wahle, Resonance, and
Deux Verts vineyards.
Soil: Bishop Creek is on the Willakenzie soil series.
Formed in the Eocene era, these soils are derived from
marine sediments and ocean floor volcanic basalt. The
sedimentary soils of the Yamhill-Carlton District viticultural
area are millions of years older than the soils in the
Climate: Bishop Creek sits on an isolated, south facing
spur jutting out from the foothills of the Coast range.
Sheltered by the mountains behind it, Bishop Creek has
a cooler, drier microclimate than other vineyards in the
area. The result is delayed ripening, more intense flavors,
and better retention of natural acidity.
Roots: Much of the mature Pinot noir is
planted “on its own roots,” not grated
onto phylloxera resistant rootstock. While
this leaves the vineyard susceptible to
phylloxera, it also means that our Pinot
noir fruit is growing on Pinot noir roots.
Almost all the rest of the world (and an
increasing proportion of Oregon vineyards)
uses grafted stock creating a mediating
influence of rootstock on the final
wine – an influence which Bishop Creek is largely free of.
With own-rooted vines, you get the expression of the
Pinot noir plant from root tip to shoot tip.
Sustainability: Bishop Creek has received Certified
Sustainable accreditation from LIVE (Low Input Viticulture
and Enology) and Salmon Safe. We use no herbicides or
insecticides in the vineyard, and our approach to fruit
health depends more on careful cultivation practices
than on spraying. When we do spray, we use organicallyapproved
mixtures of natural minerals. We time our soil
tillage regime carefully to eliminate erosion and have created
wide buffer zones around nearby streams and wetlands.
High Density: Bishop Creek has one of the highest density
plantings of own-rooted vines in Oregon. This means
that each vine can devote more resources to a smaller
amount of fruit. The result is increased structure and
concentration in the final wine. The Oregon standard is
around 1250 – 1350 vines per acre, but at Bishop Creek
we have 1742 vines per acre in the self-rooted Pinot noir,
and 1815 vines per acre in the younger plantings.
Low Yields: Bishop Creek Cellars Pinot noir is cropped
at only one cluster per shoot. Clusters at Bishop Creek
tend to be small-berried and compact, so most plants
carry no more than 45 ounces of fruit at harvest. Some
blocks crop naturally lower, carrying about 28 ounces of
fruit per plant.
Non Irrigated: All Bishop Creek vines are unirrigated.
That means that the roots must go deep to find permanent
sources of water. This not only conserves water and
saves energy, it means higher quality in the final wine.