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Erath releases first wine from Willakia Vineyard

Posted on December 04, 2014

Erath Winery, one of the pioneering wineries of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the region’s leading producer of Pinot Noir, has released the first wine from their new estate vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, Willakia Vineyard. The 2013 Willakia Chardonnay, also the first Chardonnay from Erath in more than a decade, is now available exclusively at the winery’s tasting room in Dundee, Oregon and from the winery’s website.

“We’re extremely proud of our first release from Willakia,” said Gary Horner, winemaker for Erath. “The 2013 Chardonnay is a terrific expression of both the vineyard and the vintage, and a classic example of Oregon Chardonnay – perfectly balanced with bright fruit character and plenty of mouth-watering acidity.”

Erath purchased Willakia Vineyard in March 2014. The property encompasses 298 total acres, of which 119 acres is currently planted, consisting of 98 acres of Pinot Noir and 21 acres of Chardonnay. Approximately another 30 acres are suitable for planting, and Erath is currently exploring the feasibility of constructing a new estate winery on the site.

“Willakia has turned out to be every bit the standout vineyard we thought it would be,” said Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, parent company for Erath. “We remain as firmly committed to Oregon today as we were when we first came here almost ten years ago.”

The vineyard lies in the Eola-Amity Hills appellation, one of the most renowned wine growing regions of the greater Willamette Valley. The name Willakia is derived from the names of two soil types that are prominent throughout the region – Willakenzie and Nekia. Willakia Vineyard is sustainably farmed and is LIVE and Salmon Safe certified.

The grapes for the 2013 Willakia Chardonnay were purchased from the previous owners prior to Erath’s acquisition of the vineyard itself. Block 18, a 2.6-acre parcel planted entirely to the Dijon clone 76 of Chardonnay, was the source for this particular wine. Now, with full access to the entire vineyard, Erath plans to produce a full range of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Willakia, potentially including single-block and/or single-clone bottlings.

The 2013 Willakia Chardonnay was harvested on October 12, two weeks after a series of rain showers – remnants of Typhoon Pabuk that eventually crossed the Pacific Ocean from Japan – passed through the Willamette Valley. The prolonged warm, dry period that followed the rain allowed the vineyard to dry out and provided for extended ripening and maturation of the remaining fruit. The wine was then fermented in a combination of French oak and stainless steel, before being aged on its lees for eight months in 100% French oak with 40% new barrels.

Erath has released just 238 cases of the inaugural 2013 Willakia Chardonnay, which retails for $34.

About Erath

Erath Winery, one of the pioneering wineries of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the region’s leading producer of Pinot Noir, has played a major role in establishing Oregon’s wine industry and cementing its reputation as a world-class wine region. Now in its fifth decade of winemaking, Erath crafts wines that showcase the distinct character of their diverse vineyard sites and the unique qualities of each vintage. For more information on Erath, please visit:

About Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the third largest premium wine company in the U.S. The company, located outside of Seattle, Wash., has a distinguished history that dates back 80 years to 1934. Wines under the Ste. Michelle label were first introduced in 1967, and since that time the company has expanded its vineyard holdings to more than 3,700 acres in Washington and California. Today its ‘String of Pearls’ wine portfolio represents owned or imported brands that demonstrate the producers’ unwavering commitment to creating distinctive, high quality wines from authentic estate vineyards.

Ste. Michelle’s Washington state portfolio includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, 14 Hands, Northstar, Spring Valley Vineyard, Col Solare, Michelle sparkling wines, Red Diamond, and Snoqualmie. The company also owns Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (with Italy’s Antinori family), Conn Creek and Villa Mt. Eden in the Napa Valley of California; and Erath in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. In 2006, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates became the exclusive U.S. importer for the acclaimed Marchesi Antinori wine portfolio of Italy and Chile’s Haras wines, for Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte of France in 2009, for New Zealand’s Villa Maria Estate in 2010, and for Miguel Torres of Spain and Chile in 2014. For more information on Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, please visit:

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