In the late nineties, we started to dream about a place to retire to and start a vineyard. Not a hobby vineyard, but a vineyard to work in to keep us physically healthy, a vineyard to help us maintain a passion in life—growing high quality fruit, and to provide us with a community of special friends and associates.
The place needed not only to be the right spot to start a vineyard, but also a great place to live. After traveling in different regions of Oregon and Washington, we found just the location—Walla Walla, WA. The land we purchased used to be a wheat farm and is located 2 miles south of Walla Walla at a 950 feet elevation. The vineyard consists of a soft rolling landscape with good sun exposure, irrigation water, and soil made up of a combination of several feet loess over layers of glacial materials. As a matter of fact, when we were preparing the soil for the vineyard, we uncovered a “floater”—a big boulder of Montana granite that was transported in a large chunk of ice and deposited when the ice melted during the Montana Flood thousands of years ago! This rock now stands by the entrance to our vineyard. Beside all that, we have a beautiful view of the Blue Mountains, and grapes like a view!
Because of our love for a good Syrah, “Plant what you like to drink” helped us in our decision to plant Syrah. After soil and water testing, we started on a program to create a near-perfect soil for planting and growing grapes. In 2001, we planted the vineyard ourselves; from ripping the ground, installing the trellis and drip irrigation systems, all the way to planting the vines.
We strive to grow the best grapes we can by improving soil biology and structure, with the goal of developing long-term soil sustainability. To improve the soil, we annually add solid and liquid compost, minerals, seaweed and sugars to serve as fuel for the bacteria. We use our tractor as little as possible so as to not compact the ground. We seeded a special grass cover between the rows to prevent erosion. We are excited to see the positive results of our treatments with an increase in beneficial insects, lots of worms in the soil and no erosion problems.
Since we only have 4.3 acres in Syrah, we truly are a boutique vineyard. We do most of the work ourselves, so you can find us in the vineyard most everyday from February to October. Our philosophy on work is, “Everyday in the Vineyard is a Holiday”. All the work—pruning, thinning, pulling shoots and leaves for sun exposure and harvest—is done manually. Each of the 4400 Syrah vines have hands-on treatment 7 to 8 times a year.
We installed a wind machine for frost protection in early spring and early fall. We control moisture by reading the moisture levels in the soil with sensors and water through drip irrigation when needed.
We are happy that Bergevin Lane Vineyards is the exclusive recipient of our Syrah because one of our goals was to be working with a winery that we could connect with and develop a relationship of mutual trust and friendship. Our goal is to be recognized as a quality grower and hopefully have a vineyard-designated Syrah.