SOTER VINEYARDS United States, Oregon, Williamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
Soter Vineyards was created by Tony and Michelle Soter, who founded Etude Winery in Napa Valley. After selling Etude to Beringer in 2001, Tony decided to set his sights to Oregon and found an incredible estate in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of 240 acres. Over time, they have planted 42 acres of vines – 35 acres of Pinot Noir and 7 acres of Chardonnay. Their vineyard is certified biodynamic and organic and they are creating some of the most stunning examples of Pinot Noir in all of Willamette Valley. Chris Flagwood is the winemaker, having started in 2009, and is developing a program of excellence across the portfolio of wines. Especially exciting is their newest Chardonnay and sparkling wine programs that may soon become the crown jewels of their portfolio from what we have experienced.
2020 Vintage – What started out as one of the best vintages in the past 20 years, quickly turned into a disaster for most of the Willamette Valley because of 2 weeks of heavy smoke taint from nearby wildfires. Harvesting only 50 tons of fruit for the entire 2020 vintage, red wines will be very scarce for most producers. Soter will make white wines, rosé and just a small portion of Pinot Noir from their Mineral Springs vineyard that was not as affected by the smoke as some of their other vineyards. As Pinot Noir from Oregon will be very scarce, if you find a good producer that is selling Pinot from 2020 make sure to buy up as much as you can because the supply will be incredibly thin.
2019 Vintage – An easier vintage than 2017 that felt a lot like 2018. A warm vintage without a lot of high heat spikes, a decent amount of rain and cool evenings, created an almost perfect growing season that led to fruit with good structure, acid and sugar levels.
2018 Vintage – A very forgiving vintage that was incredibly easy. The weather was consistent without a lot of problems. The growing season was the perfect amount of warm, without becoming hot. The growing season had the perfect amount of rain to keep fruit healthy and plump. A standout vintage, look for bottles from 2018 from your favorite producers.
2017 Vintage – A very difficult vintage for most growers in the Willamette Valley. A warm summer led to a very cool fall where most pinot noirs stopped ripening on the vine. Growers had a long and stressful waiting game to make sure there was enough sugar in the fruit to produce quality wine. On top of that, the yields were incredibly large creating less intense fruit that had to be managed in the winery. Luckily, the 2017s from the best producers are shining strong, creating more Burgundian styles of wines that could be incredible over the next 5-10 years.
2017 Vintage – A glorious vintage brought very small crop loads at approximately 2 tons per acre. Pinot Noir loves an even growing year, which was pretty much perfect for 2016. Willamette Valley had moments of rain, cool temperatures but the heat levels were so incredibly consistent during the entire year, that managing the crops was easily handled. The last few weeks before harvest, low-humidity Chinook winds came in from Yakima and caused the grapes to dehydrate a bit, creating concentrated juice with perfect acidity.