White Salmon Vineyard is principally about a place. A beautiful place well suited to be one of the world’s fine wine destinations. This emerging wine region is now in the process of tailoring its wine grape clones and trellising to the best advantage of each climate. The young vines’ wine gives a whiff of this new viticultural area and this particular vineyard. An old pear orchard, abandoned asparagus field, and incredible rock piles were converted to five distinct fields of wine grape vineyards.
- Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area
- 48 miles east of Portland, Oregon on the final, east slope of the Cascade Mountains
- 1/2 mile north of the Columbia River – Longitude W121°, 32’ 25.3”
- 1/2 mile west of the White Salmon River – Latitude N45° 44’ 34.1”
- 550 feet elevation on Underwood Mountain
- Approx. 37 inches of rain per year
- An eastern, southeastern 5-6% slope that appears to be an old volcanic slide
Five distinct fields (labeled A, B, C, D, & E) totaling approximately 20 acres, surround a wood lot of Douglas fir and Garry Oak. The initial 40+ feet of soil was a slide that traveled down Underwood Mountain from the north and west above. This slide left trails of very distinct soils in the fields, as well as very different micro climates. Each field has been fitted with its clone, its layout and trellising. A challenge to paint such a landscape on a brand new palatte, ground.
A – Saint Crispin Field is approximately 5 acres of light, red, volcanic soil mixed with volcanic rocks, lots of rocks. It is located in the Southwest portion of the vineyard, just east of the winery and residence. SC Field is planted in Pinot Noir (71%), Syrah (14%), Malbec (13%), Blaufrankish (1%) and Chardonnay (1%).
B – Norfield is a southeastern, sloping bowl separated from Saint Crispin Field to the south by a massive stonewall. Norfield has volcanic soil with a mix of clay, deep, well drained. Widely spaced rock lenses encircle the bowl. There is a ten vine deep strip of Sauvignon Blanc (6%) that borders the field’s southern edge along the wood lot. Chardonnay (94%) of various clones, one quite unique, compose the majority of the field. There ia a partial row of Maria Gomez grapes.
C – Power Field is the westerly end of Norfield, in the vineyard’s northwest corner. This eastern slope is one of the highest in the vineyard, on light volcanic soil with some significant rocky areas. It is planted to various Pinot Noir dijon clones . There are 4 rows of dijon Chardonnay at the very west end of the field.
D – Pete’s Field is a rather rock free, clay dominated soil. It is quite sheltered from the wind by Oaks and surronding fir. It is in the South Eastern quarter of the vineyard. The westerly, higher portion of the field is Pinot Noir (25%) and the eastern portion is planted on a selection of dijon clone Sauvignon Blanc vines (75%).
E – Sand Field is located on a bench in the vineyard’s North East corner. It was farmed in asparagus decades ago. The eastern portion of the field is deep sand without rocks, the western portion turns medium textured loam with lots of rocks. This field rises above the eastern end of Norfield, as if the end of the slide – where it piled up. The sand portion is planted with White Riesling (70%), the rocky, western slope has Pinot Noir (30%).
Peter and Faye Brehm are the proprietors of White Salmon Vineyard. Peter has been purchasing, processing and selling wine grapes to home winemakers and small wineries since 1971. He has made wine, mostly at home, since 1969.
In 1987 Peter expanded his grape sources from Northern California to the Pacific Northwest. The eastern slope of the Cascades, the quality pear orchards, and the strong marine influence funneled thru the Columbia River Gorge made this region his focus. Existing ‘Gorge’ vineyards were contracted and the learning experience began. In 1991 the Brehms purchased an old pear orchard on Underwood Mountain. Higher elevations (1,400 – 1,200 ft) on Underwood and Bald Mountains had expressed a strong viticultural resemblance to Alsace. This new property was half the elevation and believed to have the potential somewhere between Alsace and the most northern Rhone. The vineyard has been planted gradually starting in 1993. This planting continues to this day, one row at a time.
Peter has remained vineyard manager and wine overseer. Carlos Rocha has been Peter’s right hand from planting, to pruning, to harvest. Little expense has been spared in the vineyard’s development. Carlos and his crew have nurtured the vineyard with pride and love.
The winery at White Salmon Vineyard was a natural evolution for a winemaker who has an empty garage and basement. The desire, the need, the curiosity to find out how/what that labor in the vineyard brought forth. How the vineyard efforts express themselves. In 2003 vineyard yields allowed the winery to start absorbing a portion of the vineyard’s production. While I have tasted the best wines from our grapes produced by other winemakers, the wine making brings the grower closer to his children. The post harvest involvement has helped us learn. Join us in our discovery and evolvement of our best wines. We are continuing to improve.
The Chardonnay has proven well suited for the placement in Norfield. The various clones have shown different expressions. All have produced higher than expected alcohol. Our first NV Pinot Noir surprised us with a heavy coating of tannin. Harvest and winemaking adjustments are dynamic, trying to keep up with a maturing vineyard. The opportunity to explore and define one of the finest wine regions in the world is what White Salmon Vineyard offers. Vintage by vintage we are adjusting to this new viticultural area. Vintage by vintage the vineyard is producing higher quality fruit. While experimental batches of Syrah and Malbec remain in house, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are, for the most part, molded by professional hands. We are proud to grow for Maison Bleue, Foundry Vineyards, Ali Mayfield, Marchesi Vineyards, Brooklyn Winery and Memaloose wineries among our home winemakers.
Tasting Room & Direct Sales Pricing
|Brand Prices – White Salmon Vineyard:||Bottle||Case|
|Estate Chardonnay, Columbia Gorge a.v.a. 750 ml||$19.00||$159.60|
|Description: 2005 vintage or Lot III (2009)
A perfect yellow/green color precedes the integrated Chardonnay/oak flavors. The chardonnay is rich, deeper toned, with soft sur lees character. The acid provides a balance to these rich flavors. The wine’s lingering aftertaste, its ability to age in style is rather unique to this American vineyard region.
|Big White Chardonnay, Columbia Gorge a.v.a. 750 ml||$19.00||$159.60|
A light yellow color, a nose of mixed fruit tinged with Kiwi and banana, is balanced with moderate bright acid. Has a clean nose and taste, without oak. An enjoyable wine before and with the diner, very food friendly.
|Estate Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge a.v.a. 750 ml||$35.00||$294.00|
Unfiltered. Nice red color; a nose that displays raspberries and cherries. The fruit is nicely balanced with acid. The wine fills the mouth with soft fruit and a lingering finish.
|Estate San Crispin Field, Columbia Gorge a.v.a. 750 ml||$24.00||$201.60|
Unfiltered. Decanting may refine the wine’s nice deep color and accelerate the opening of the white pepper, dried fruit aromatics. This blend of varietals from this small field shows its cool origin with bright acidity and clean fruit aromatics and blended with a complimenting commonality. It is touched with a bit of oak and noticeable tannins. We expect this wine will age well and be prime in three years.
|Perfect Blend, Washington a.v.a. 750 ml||$15.00||$136.50|
| Description: N.V.
Estate grown Syrah and Malbec make up 85% of this affordable blend. The other 15% comes from Malbec grown in the warmer climate of the Columbia Valley. The refreshing vibrancy of the Estate fruit is kissed with the warmth and softness of the warmer grapes to provide a Perfect Blend’ for your enjoyment.
|Spicy White, Columbia Gorge a.v.a. 750 ml||$12.00||$100.80|
Spicy White is a dry table wine for entertaining, relaxing and fun. A combination of Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer grapes compliment each other. The lush mouth feel of the Chardonnay, and its rich fullness provide a background upon which the unique spice and flavor of the Gewurztraminer’s character can play.
|Brand Prices – Brehm Vineyards:||Bottle||Case|
|Red Wine, Peter’s Red, American, 750 ml||$24.00||$230.00|
|Description: 2004 – Carneros Merlot & WSV Malbec – from frozen must
A dark, transparent Merlot / Malbec wine with a rich full nose, lovely complex berries. A medium bodied wine set with acceptable tannins that allow aging or immediate use with fairly rich foods. Peter made this Red for his wife, Faye—don’t buy too much!
|Sweet Sauvignon Blanc, American, 350 ml||$25.00||$210.00|
|Description: 2005 – Louie Lucas Vineyard, Santa Barbera – from frozen juice
Light golden color suggests the rich apricot, melon, citrus aromas that fill the nose. Sweet fruit is balanced by modest acid. A classic sauterne style wine without an oak overlay. Sweet Sauvignon invites drinking now with dessert or complimenting flavorful Asian food.
|Riesling, Washington a.v.a., 750 ml||$19.00||$159.60|
|Description: 2006 – Underwood Mountain Vineyard, Col. Gorge – from fresh grapes
Description: A petrol infused. Apple scented wine that reflects its cool, dry farmed pedigree. Nose is clean and distinct, foretelling the dry, lush acidity that enlivens the mouth. A wine capable of some age and a fine food wine.
|Cabernet Sauvignon, American, 750 ml||$45.00||$432.00|
|Description: 2008 – State Lane Vineyard, Yountville ava & Carneros Merlot – from frozen must
Made to celebrate grandson ‘Pablo’, for him to enjoy. A rich wine well-structured to last without tannin bitterness. Aged in old French oak for 24 months. A wine to chew to release the layers of fruit and flavors.
|Zinfandel, American, 750 ml||$17.00||$163.00|
|Description: 2004 – Talmage Bench, Mendocino – from frozen must
A classy North Coast Zinfandel produced in a Bordeaux style. Wine is finished dry with moderate alcohol. It is rich, full bodied showing some of the complimentary flavoring of ‘Oregon’ oak aging.
|Malbec, American, 750 ml||$17.00||$163.00|
|Description: 2004 – Hopland, Mendocino – from frozen grapes
One of our first explorations of Malbec grapes yielded a deeply pigmented, rich wine fitted with a complimentary coat of French oak. A substantial wine well suited for the rich, flavorful meal.