Less than two miles from where Peter Britt likely first planted, crushed and bottled Oregon’s first Pinot Noir, (named Franc Pinot in the mid-1850’s) it’s back to the future for Jacksonville’s wine industry. Today, on a gently-sloped mostly north-to-northeast facing parcel off South Stage Road, Dan and Cindy Marca of DANCIN Vineyards, are preparing to plant 12 additional acres of grapes to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The new vineyard sits directly west of DANCIN’s current tasting room, vineyard and winery.
The Marca’s currently have nearly 7 acres of grapes planted around their tasting room and on-site winery. Dan explained, “When the property directly to the west of us changed ownership recently, I approached them about the possibility of expanding our vineyard…fortunately, they shared our vision and we agreed to collaborate.” By mid-March, 2015, the exclusive farm use land will be home to 19,000 newly-planted vines, all of which are one-year-old vines. The Marca’s opted to purchase one-year old vines in order to jump-start the production of fruit, which along with precise management practices provides the opportunity to produce a 2016 vintage from the new vineyard. “Another positive aspect to planting these vines,” Dan adds, “is that it protects the views and buffers Jacksonville with a ring of agriculture. Planting our new vineyard only adds to the ambiance of this area and is a win-win situation.”
Once planted, the new and existing vineyard will total just over 19 acres, and will produce between 50 to 60 tons of grapes, equating to approximately 3000 – 3600 cases of wine production. Dan explains, “When fully planted, 67% of our vineyard will be planted to Pinot Noir and the rest to Chardonnay. Having learned a lot from working our existing vineyard, the new Pinot Noir vines will be comprised of seven different clones, each expressing a unique attribute of the varietal. In addition, we’ll be adding the Espiguette 352 clone, one of my favorite clones to our Chardonnay program to ensure we continue producing the best possible wines expressing the multi-faceted flavors of these varietals on our sites.”
Dan notes that temperature and climatic differences make all the difference, especially when growing Pinot Noir. For years, he’s employed the use of four weather stations on the property to study temperature variations as part of his vineyard management duties. “Two of the stations, located just 550 feet apart, often reflect a 10 degree differential in temperature… this is a really important bit of information when you’re trying to match the climate and conditions of the land and its impact on the varieties under consideration.”
However, before a 2016 vintage can be bottled, Marca says there’s lots of work ahead for him and his team. This summer, the 12-acre parcel was cleared and then surveyed to determine where the rows of grapes would be planted and where the vineyard infrastructure would be sited.
With 19,000 new vines arriving in late February, 2015, Dan and his team have been hard at work preparing the new vineyard by fertilizing, disking and seeding the soil. The seeding includes planting a cover crop of vetch and clover which serves to improve the soil, reduce water consumption and aid in water retention in the topsoil. In addition, each row has been carefully plotted prior to the installation of irrigation, end posts, trellises and vines, due to commence this month. Being no stranger to hard work, Dan knows it’s worth the effort and simply smiles and says, “My goal from day one has been to produce the best possible wines and contribute to elevating the quality and perception of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay being made in our beautiful valley.”