Chehalem (Chuh-hay-lum) is a local Calapooia Indian word best translated as "gentle land" or "valley of flowers," phrases that capture a long-standing, almost religious reverence for the land. We understand this reverence, for we consider ourselves a vineyard winery, dedicated to reflecting as purely as possible what the vineyard has produced, with minimal processing, without compromising great fruit.
Chehalem traces its history back to vineyard operations started by Harry Peterson-Nedry in 1980 at Ridgecrest Vineyards, the pioneering wine operation on Ribbon Ridge, northwest of Newberg, Oregon. Bill and Cathy Stoller joined Harry in the winery in 1993 and subsequently began Stoller Vineyards—a densely planted, 125 acres on Stoller family farmlands at the southern tip of the Dundee Hills. Corral Creek Vineyards, adjacent to the winery facility, is Chehalem's third estate vineyard. Our first release was the 1990 Ridgecrest Pinot Noir.
Equally well-known for red and white wine quality, we carry a passion and focus for cool climate varieties that reflect both site and climate in complex, structured and intensely fruited wines.
Our Pinot gris style is unique, largely because our standard for emulation is Alsace. We produce two distinct wines: a tank fermented Pinot gris that is bright and crisp, and a rich, round Pinot Gris Reserve that is barrel fermented in neutral oak. An intense, bone dry Riesling and rich, full fruited Pinot blanc continue our Alsace resemblance. We also produce a 100% tank-fermented, unoaked Chardonnay, INOX, and Ian's Reserve Chardonnay, a wine rich and full with 100% Dijon clone fruit.
For Pinot noir, our main distribution wine is the 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir, complemented by limited amounts of Reserve Pinot Noir and a vineyard designate from each of our estate vineyards.
Our philosophy and style do not always follow the industry norms or market trends. That we look for deftness and elegance in Pinot noirs at a time when black, opaque, extracted and heavily wooded wines are the norm, speaks to this sense. That we crop-thin Pinot gris as aggressively as Pinot noir and look for optimal ripeness such that it is harvested after Pinot noir indicates an almost obsessive attention to detail. At a time when Riesling is being pulled out, Chehalem counter intuitively plants prime acres to this variety, convinced it as sensitively reflects site and climate for white wine as Pinot noir does for red.
Call us crazy, but we think our objective is not to follow today's trends, but is to lead to a novel future that is stimulating, exciting and beautiful—such as it must have been generations ago for the Calapooia, overlooking the "valley of flowers."
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