We began commercial production in 2003 and currently produce between 250 and 300 cases of Pinot noir annually. Dewey Kelly is in charge of winemaking with a great deal of support and assistance from good friends and family. For the first five years, we produced our wine at Carlton Winemakers Studio, and after a year in Carlton at Scott Paul Wines, we are now happy to be working with Boedecker Cellers at the Portland Wine Project in our hometown of Portland.
Regardless of the winery location, being small allows us to nurture each wine through the winemaking process. Our Pinot noir in processed in small 1.5 ton fermenters like that pictured to the right.
Our philosophy in winemaking is "Keep it simple." We believe that wines are mostly made in the vineyard, and the winemaker's job in the winery is to make sure nothing goes wrong between the vineyard and the bottle. Our vineyard has consistently produced extraordinary fruit, so while we hover attentively throughout the winemaking process, we have a very light hand, allowing the fruit and vintage to take its natural course.
At the winery, the Pinot noir fruit is gently destemmed, leaving mostly whole berries in the fermenters. We typically allow the berries to sit for a few days at 50 degrees or below to maximize the amount of contact between the juice and the skin. After a few days, we raise the temperature of the berries to 58 degrees and allow the fermentation to start, in most cases without the addition of commercial yeasts. Ten days to two weeks after the fruit arrives at the winery, primary fermentation is complete. The wine is drained off of the skins and seeds, settled, then racked directly into French oak barrels where it goes through a secondary, malolactic (ML) fermentation through the heart of the winter. Once ML is finished the wine rests pretty much undisturbed until we start preparing it for bottling the next summer.
Though we sell the majority of the fruit from our vineyard, we have always reserved what we consider to be the premier section of the vineyard for our own wines. This 2.5 acre section, called the "Wedding Block" after the spot in the vineyard where we were married, consistently shows the vineyard at its very best. Evenly split between the Dijon 777 and Pommard clones, the Wedding Block is at the highest point in the vineyard where the topsoil is the shallowest. This maximizes ripeness and minimizes vigor resulting in intense flavors and complex characteristics that carry over into our wines.
In addition to the Pinot noir, we have made several unique white wines using purchased grapes. One, called Muse, is an Early Muscat wine fortified with Early Muscat Grappa that is a perfect apperitif or after dinner wine. The second is a proprietary dry Alsatian-styled white blend, called Cuvee M, that is a great summer food wine.
Screw Caps are the way of the future, and Ribbon Ridge Vineyard was among the first producers in Oregon to use screw cap closures on all of our wines.