Vineyard: Zenith

OwnersKari Ramey, St. Innocent Ltd., Tim Ramey
AppellationWillamette Valley
StoryOperated by Tim and Kari Ramey and their partner, St. Innocent, Ltd. Located in the Willamette Valley and planted primarily to Pinot Noir (79%) with lesser amounts of Chardonnay (4%), Tempranillo (4%) and Pinot Blanc (1%). Zenith uses a "pragmatic organic" approach to cultivating the grapes. The vineyard was originally known as the O'Connor Vineyard until purchased by the Rameys in 2002. Replanting of the phylloxera-stricken vines began the following year. In 2006, the Rameys partnered with St. Innocent's Mark Vlossak to create Zenith Vineyard LLC, giving Vlossak a reliable fruit source. The vineyard property is also a venue for weddings. Principal clients have been Adelsheim, Bethel Heights, Broadley, Domaine Nicolas-Jay, Grouchau, Ponzi, Soter and St. Innocent.
Dates PlantedOriginally in the early 1980s
Acres83
LocationEola-Amity Hills AVA.
Aspect280-330 feet elevation.
VarietiesChardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo
ManagersPedro Martinez

Reviewed wines produced from this vineyard

2014 Ponzi Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc

13.4% alc., pH 3.23, RS 1.8 g/L, $20, screwcap. Sourced from Aurora Vineyard (Ponzi’s LIVE Certified Sustainable vineyard - 74%), Zenith Vineyard (19%) and Thistle Vineyard (7%). Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation prohibited. · Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Demure aromas of poached pear, nectarine and honey lead to a light bodied, but flavorful, core of white stone fruits with a hint of citrus. A delicate, but pleasant wine with a slightly sweet finish. This wine is more akin to Pinot Gris than Chardonnay and will pair well with shellfish and quiche. Score: 88. Reviewed June 14, 2015 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Franchere Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.61, 150 cases, $24. Release September 2016. Sourced from Zenith Vineyard (83%, Harvest Brix 23.4º) and Zena Springs Vineyard (17%, Harvest Brix 22.1º). 100% de-stemmed, no cold soak, spontaneous native yeast fermentation, 1g/L tartaric acid addition, aged 10 months in used oak barrels. Bottled with Diam closure unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers a strange mix of aromas including muddled black cherry, hops, bruised apple and Beaujolais nouveau. Light to mid weight in style, soft in the mouth, with simple flavors of black cherry and dark red berries energized with a lively acid spine, balanced tannins, and a modest finish. Score: 85. Reviewed July 9, 2016 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Franchere Zenith Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 70 cases, $34. Release September 2016. Native ferment, addition of 1 g/L tartaric acid, aged in used French oak barrels for 15 months and bottled with Diam closure unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black fruits, cassis, black grape syrup and a hint of bruised apple. The mid weight plus core of black cherry and black raspberry fruits are nicely spiced and charming. The mouthfeel is silky and the tannins, although evident, are nicely integrated and do not haunt the enjoyable, purple-fruited finish. Score: 88. Reviewed July 9, 2016 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Vincent Zenith Vineyard Oregon Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $39. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely scented with aromas of crushed black cherry and forest path. Black cherry driven with good attack and mid palate presence in a mid weight plus style with a thread of dried savory herbs in the background. Fairly bold and sappy, with a lingering black cherry fruited finish. Beautiful fruit, but the drying tannins stick out on the finish. Score: 89. Reviewed July 9, 2016 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Ponzi Vineyards Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.55, 1,250 cases, $60. A blend of LIVE Certified Sustainable fruit from Ponzi’s Aurora, Abetina and Madrona vineyards, as well as fruit from Linda Vista, Kason, Zenith and Walnut Ridge vineyards. Primarily grapes grown in Laurelwood soils in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, 7-day post-fermentation maceration, and aged for 20 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and aged an additional 5 months before release. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing aromas of cherry, raspberry, herbs, nuts and nori. The array of darker red cherry and berry fruit really sparkles on the palate which offers added accents of black tea, savory dried herbs and toasty oak. Silky tannins add a seductive mouthfeel. This is a giving wine upon opening, but becomes noticeably better over time in the glass. Decant or hold in your cellar for full enjoyment. Score: 91. Reviewed November 22, 2015 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 St. Innocent Villages Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 1,621 cases, $23. The core of this wine comes from Vitae Springs Vineyard (56%), with contributions from Freedom Hill (6%), Zenith (28%) and Momtazi (10%). 2-day cold soak, fermented in stainless steel, aged 12 months in 14% new French oak, and bottled without fining. · The nose is pleasing with aromas of purple grapes, blackberries, cassis and oak. Mid to full-bodied frame of purple and black fruits. Forward and fruit-driven, with a well-matched backbone of suave tannins. A solid, everyday wine. Score: 88. Reviewed July 6, 2014 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 WildAire Timothy Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.55, 260 cases, $25, screwcap. This wine is dedicated to Matt Driscoll’s father, who loved to hike in the Appalachian Mountains and return to the homestead to share a glass of wine with family and friends. Sourced from Shea, Kiff, Illahe and Zenith vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, proprietary yeast. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very fragrant initially with aromas of raspberry, cherry, rose petal and dried herbs, losing interest over time in the glass as the fruit aromas faded. Middleweight flavors of cherry and raspberry with a hint of spice and noticeable oak presence. A forward drinking, back porch wine. Score: 87. Reviewed December 11, 2014 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 WildAire Reserve Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 250 cases, $35 (sold out). Crafted from select barrels from several legendary Oregon vineyards (Kiff clone 777, Shea Wädenswill clone, Zenith clone 115 and Wädenswil, and Illahe Pommard clone). 100% destemmed, Native and proprietary yeast fermentations. 23 days on the skins. Aged 10 months in 33% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Appealing aromas of black cherries, loganberries and loamy earth. Relatively approachable for a reserve wine, with tasteful notes of black cherry, boysenberry, plum and spice. The tannins are balanced and the wine finishes with a moderately intense charge of cherry fruit. The wine improves over time in the glass indicate age worthiness. Score: 91. Reviewed December 11, 2014 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2011 Seufert Winery Zenith Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 245 cases, $35. Pommard and 777 clones. Vineyard planted in 1999. Multiple soil types. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, cranberry and dried herbs are replicated in the flavors of this lighter weight wine that is a bit tart and tannic. A little oak is trying to add interest, but the tannic sinew and sharp acidity overwhelm the delicate fruit. If I was drinking this wine, I would chill it or add ice to temper the tannins. Score: 86. Reviewed May 14, 2015 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2011 Adelsheim Zenith Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.52, 143 cases, $90. Third single vineyard wine from this vineyard that was originally planted in the early 1980s by Pat O’Connor. Kari and Tim Ramey bought it in 2002 and renamed it, expanding the plantings to 70 acres. Clones are 667, “828,” 115, and Pommard planted in volcanic and sedimentary soils. Aged 10 months in 31% new medium-toast French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Seductive aromatics offering scents of black cherries, forest floor and spice. Soft in the mouth and relatively light in weight, with appealing black cherry flavor set off by an earthy note. The tannins are nicely balanced and the good acidity adds grip. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with glorious aromatics. Score: 91. Reviewed October 11, 2013 WINERY » ARTICLE »

2010 St. Innocent Zenith Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 704 cases, $30. Clones 777 and 667 from older blocks and young vine Pommard. Yields 1.4 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed, 2-day cold soak, aged 16 months in 40% new French oak, bottled without fining. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy nose initially, opening slowly over time to reveal inviting aromas of black plum, blackberry and subtle oak. Middleweight flavors of dark red and black berries, backed by well-proportioned firm tannins, finishing with a pleasing note of raspberries. Very soft in the mouth with seamless balance. Will benefit from further bottle age. Very Good. Reviewed September 12, 2012 WINERY » ARTICLE »