Evesham is most famous for their
very limited "Cuvee J" Pinot noir
Update- November 2011
Written in 2001, this article gives some background on the history of Evesham Wine and its founding.
Mary Raney named their vineyard and winery after their honeymoon destination:
England’s Vale of Evesham, an idyllic fruit-growing region by the
Cotswold Hills. Their house and subterranean winery overlook Evesham
Wood’s 12-acre vineyard, which is situated on an eastern slope
of the Eola Hills, four miles northwest of Salem and within view of the
Russ Raney was first introduced to winemaking while studying at Freiburg
University (Germany), where he visited nearby vineyards in Baden and
Alsace. A few years later in 1977, he earned a degree from the State
Technical School of Viticulture and Enology in Bad Kreunach, Germany.
Upon returning to the U.S., Russ worked as wine retailer and wholesaler
in St. Louis for five years before he and Mary moved to Oregon in
1983 in search of a site capable of yielding great Pinot noir. Mary
at St. Louis University and Southern Illinois University, graduating
with a degree in horticulture. She manages the winery office and
provides a much appreciated different perspective in blending and bottling
Expanding Possibilities, Solid Tradition,
The Founding of
Evesham Wood Winery
Evesham Wood Wines
Haden Fig Wines
2008 Pinot noirs
2007 Pinot noirs
Les Puits Sec
Pinot noir 2006
Of his winemaking philosophy, Russ says:
“ We don’t manipulate our winemaking methods to produce
a ‘sameness’ in quality from year to year, or attempt to
compete with the large producers by making our wines appeal to a larger
audience. Like any quality-conscious winery, we will try by natural
means to maximise quality and flavour intensity of our wines in the ‘lesser’ vintages,
but only if it doesn’t mean having to alter our basic wine style,
and always giving preference to decisions made in the vineyard rather
than the cellar.”
The results have been some of Oregon’s very best Pinot noirs,
say wine critics. It is difficult to not feel the same excitement Russ
feels about his Eola Hills vineyard when sipping his product. He is
convinced the site is destined to be among the world’s best for
Pinot noir cultivation.
One of Oregon's Early Wineries
After a comprehensive
search throughout the Willamette Valley, the Raneys chose a site
for their estate vineyard, “Le Puits Sec” (French
for "the dry well" which they have in the vineyard) in 1986.
There they planted eight acres, three of Pinot Noir (Pommard clone),
two each of Chardonnay (108 clone) and Pinot Gris (Colmar clones) and
one of Gewurztraminer. Since then, four and one half acres have gradually
been added (1.5 ac. of 3 Dijon clones of Pinot Noir, 1 ac. of 3 Dijon
clones of Chardonnay, and one ac. Pinot Gris, as well as small plantings
of the German variety, Rieslaner and the Austrian variety, Gruener
Veltliner). In addition, the original two acres of Chardonnay were
grafted over to Pinot Noir in 1999.
The gently sloping, east-facing vineyard
is tightly-spaced and nestled on a low terrace (300-420 ft. elevation)
on the eastern side of the
Eola Hills ridge. This area, known locally as “Spring Valley”,
has already proven to have one of Oregon¹s best micro-climates
for the production of fine wines from Burgundian and Alsatian varieties.
It is here that the rather shallow volcanic basalt soils allow Russ
to achieve the low yields he seeks for wines of great intensity and
As well, it is the uniqueness of this “terroir” that gives
Le Puits Sec wines their signature.
It was also in 1986 that the Raneys first produced
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, using grapes purchased primarily from
Temperance Hill & Anden (formerly "Seven
Springs"), two fine Eola Hills sites very near (and with similar
soil composition) to our own. They continue to purchase fruit from
these, as well as from two more recent additions: Mahonia, located
South Salem Hills, and Cubanissimo, a higher elevation Eola Hills vineyard.
Evesham Wood currently purchase Pinot Noir
and Chardonnay for about half of their 3,600 case annual production,
of wine production
from these varieties coming from their estate vineyard. Additionally,
their Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer are produced exclusively from
estate-grown fruit. The Raneys have resided at our vineyard site since
its planting. It wasn’t, however, until 1991 that the present
subterranean winery was located there, situated below their home on
a knoll overlooking
Le Puits Sec vineyard and an idyllic Willamette River landscape.
The Evesham Wood Philosophy
Russ Raney says: "At Evesham Wood, small
Because it is essential for Russ's philospohy
of winemaking to maintain a high level of personal involvement
and quality control both in vineyard and cellar, he never intends
to go much beyond his current 3600 case annual production. Russ says,
good for our sanity too, as we're at a point in our lives where we'd
like to simplify not complicate things (our raison d'etre in life
goes beyond viticulture & enology)".
To maintain a high level of
quality, the Raneys rely on two basic principles: obtaining optimally
fruit from the best possible sites in their area, and using minimal
intervention in the winemaking process. They feel that this is the
surest way to create
wines which express their unique heritage. For example, their Pinot
Noirs and vineyard-designated Chardonnays are not filtered prior
so as to preserve texture and flavor complexity.
Evesham Wood's main sources of inspiration and
advice have come from two of Burgundy's top small producers: the legendary
Henri Jayer (Vosne-Romanée),
and Michel Niellon (Chassagne-Montrachet). Russ says, "Even
if, as "new
we aren't ashamed to admit that we strive for certain subtle aspects
of great Côte d'Or Pinot and Chardonnay, we appreciate the fact
that there will always be identifiable Eola Hills’ characteristics
in our wines, distinguishing them from every other region of the world".
To further the quest to emphasize the uniqueness
of the Evesham Wood terroir (and thus their wines), Evesham obtained
in 2000, organic certification of Le Puits
Sec vineyard. With the enactment of federal laws governing organic
certification in 2002 (the USDA's National Organic Program), Evesham
Wood winery processing has been certified as well. Additionally, they
members of DRC (Deep Roots Coalition), a group of local growers/producers
which advocates the use of natural methods in the vineyard and cellar,
especially the harvesting of grapes exclusively from non-irrigated
vineyards (thus forcing the vine's roots to grow deeper into the soil).
At Evesham Wood it is not the objective to produce
wines with mass appeal. Russ says this is due in part to the fact
that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
want, more than any other noble grape varieties, to reflect their origins
in terroir and winemaking approach. He says, "Both of these attributes
would be diminished by an excessively manipulative approach".
Russ Raney, owner and winemaker at Evesham Wood,
is an Oregon treasure. He's an unassuming, kind fellow, and a lot of
wine lovers in Oregon think he's something of a genius when it comes
He has always priced his wines fairly, avoided publicity, and sacrificed
bucks for quality in marginal grape growing years. Almost twenty years
since he and his family moved outside Salem, Oregon to make wine, he
quietly continues to make great wines, reflecting his interest in terroir
and his inspiration, the wines of France.
THE PINOT NOIRS OF EVESHAM WOOD
Along with his very limited Gewuztraminer, these are the wines our
store customers most covet.
The Pinot Noirs from Evesham Wood epitomize
the elegance and the refined silky texture of Oregon’s best
pinots. Evesham Wood wines are usually snapped up upon release by
restaurants and Russ's mail list.
At the store, we have a regular group of Evesham Wood fans who have
purchased our allocation each year. We are fortunate that Russ has
increased his production and we are able to introduce the wider world
to his wines.
CUVEE J: HARD TO GET AND VERY LIMITED
This wine's grapes are from the famous
Shea vineyard site. Cuvee "J" has
always been the top quality, very limited Pinot noir that customers
fight over. As usual, it is very limited in quantity. This is not a
big "blockbuster" wine but rather a rich and graceful wine,
a finesse wine, with a fine balance of viscosity, fruit, and acid.
The wine expresses a distinct "gout de terroir" along with
intense red and black fruit flavors. With many wines made from the
grapes of Shea Vineyard selling for $45 plus, this is a very good deal.
"Le Puits Sec"
" Le Puits Sec" means "the dry well".
This is the new name for Evesham's Estate Pinot noir. The wine is
a blend of
vineyard sites including Russ's estate vineyard.
Evesham's Pinot noirs differ only in the
origin of their component fruit. As opposed to the "Willamette Valley" blended
bottlings, the single vineyard and named wines are aged about 18
months in 65-100%
new Francois Freres oak, and represent selected barrels from each of
the vineyard sites. These wines are not filtered prior to bottling.
Home and Winery
Russ and Mary
Russ shows off his rocky,
iron laden soil,
and great for grapes!