FIVE POINTS VINEYARD

EOLA-AMITY HILLS | WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGON

AVA: Eola-Amity Hills
Address: 6915 SE Eola Hills Road, Amity, Oregon
Elevation: 420-510 feet
Year Planted: Fall 2020
Varietals Grown: Pinot Noir & Chardonnay

Five Points Vineyard is in the northwestern bench of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. The cool Pacific breezes coming through the Van Duzer corridor to the EAH in the summer months help maintain a good balance of fruit and acid (slow down plant respiration and preserve acid). Some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the WV are coming from this area.

We have a riparian area running through the vineyard, which results in Southeast and Northwest facing slopes. The riparian area provides wildlife habitat and adds to the property’s biodiversity. Like most vineyards in the WV, we are dry farmed. 2023 will be our first harvest, and we are expecting yields to be about 1 ton per acre. Our focus will be to produce grapes of exceptional quality that will be used primarily for small production wines.

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TYPE OF FARMING AND WHY

We are concerned about our environmental impact on the land, and our goal is to use sustainable and regenerative farming practices. We are LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture & Enology) certified, farming organically and are aligned with biodynamic principles. With our younger plants, it is important to eliminate competition for water in the vine rows. We are doing this with under vine cultivation, hand hoeing and animals, and we have eliminated the use of herbicides. We have used goats and sheep to control invasive Blackberry in our pond area, and we would like to increase plant diversity by adding more native vegetation. Next year, we are considering the use of sheep for under vine grazing before budbreak. As the vineyard becomes more established, roots grow deeper and our vigor is more defined, we are planning to introduce permanent cover crops, which would allow us to move to no till.

BACKGROUND

After 3 years of searching for vineyard property in the Northern Willamette Valley, we purchased our 20-acre property in 2019, and worked with Results Partners to develop and manage a 10-acre vineyard (see map below).  Soil testing was done by Andy Gallagher of Red Hills Soils, and he found 7 soil types, which are a mixture of marine sedimentary and volcanic basalt.  We designed a 7-block layout with ample room for headlands and buffer areas.

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We consulted with several vineyard managers and winemakers about root stock, clones and spacing.  We decided on 8 x 4 spacing.  For rootstock, we paired the shallow soils with 3309, and for the moderate to deep soils, we used Schwarzmann and 101-14.  We bought standard potted vines from Inland Dessert and Duarte, and we planted 8 acres of Pinot Noir and 2 acres of Chardonnay in November 2020.  For Pinot Noir clones we chose Pommard, 667, 777 and Mt. Eden, and for Chardonnay we selected 76. 

In 2021 we continued to work on vineyard infrastructure.  Pencil rods and grow tubes were added, and we put in a VSP trellis system with recycled steel end posts.

In March of 2022, we 2 budded all the vines. This was our 2nd leaf, and the focus was on selecting a shoot for trunk development.  In April 2023, we pruned and laid down a single cane (guyot).  We are using the Simonet and Sirch (Sap Flow) pruning method to maintain vine health and optimize vine longevity. In 2024, we are planning to move to a double cane (guyot).

THE TEAM

Mike Spath & Donna Whinnery

OWNERS

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Donna grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, and was a graphics arts major at University of Wisconsin Stout.  Her career started in customer service management and progressed to corporate purchasing roles at large printers and publishers in Minneapolis and New York.  When she and Mike moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, Donna utilized her business management skills to provide back-office consulting for several small companies.  She went on to manage a commercial real estate and development company,  and obtained her North Carolina real estate license. 

From his days at Willamette Industries, Mike had always loved Oregon and especially the Willamette Valley.  He also had a special appreciation for cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from experience as a waiter during college serving wines from Burgundy.

Mike and Donna began making regular visits to Oregon starting in 2012.  On their first trip, they vowed to enjoy the wine but not join any wine clubs.  Three days later they returned home, and were members of 5 wine clubs.  They were hooked not only on the wine and beauty of the Willamette Valley but also by the collaborative spirit of the wine community.   

In 2016, Mike and Donna started to think seriously about starting a vineyard in Oregon.  After a 3-year search, they purchased their 20-acre property in Amity, which had been an old wheat farm that included a 1954 mid-century modern house.  They began developing a 10-acre vineyard and renovating the house.   They planted 8 acres of Pinot Noir and 2 acres of Chardonnay in November 2020, and are looking forward to their first vintage in 2023.

In April 2021, Mike and Donna retired from the corporate world and relocated to Amity from Charlotte where they had lived for 25 years.  They are now residing on their beautiful vineyard and embracing their new lives.  Getting back to his biology roots, Mike has taken several viticulture classes and enjoys the connection to the land and being with the vines every day.  Donna’s practical farming knowledge and green thumb have been a tremendous help in managing the vineyard. 

Mike and Donna are very active in the Eola-Amity Hills Winegrowers Association, and support the organization’s goals of building the AVA’s reputation, promoting sustainable winegrowing practices and enhancing local communities.

Results Partners

VINEYARD MANAGEMENT

RP is one of the premier vineyard management companies in the Northwest.  They are resource rich, and have fantastic people who are experts in site development, farming practices, viticulture and equipment requirements.  Mike and Donna are very involved in the vineyard, and highly value the partnership and close working relationship with RP.  They meet regularly to discuss vineyard status, key initiatives, operating schedules, emerging trends, new ideas and potential trials.   

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