Bernard and Ronni Lacroute purchased a 430-acre ranch in the hills of the Chehalem Valley (Yamhill-Carlton District AVA) in 1991. The site reminded Bernard of his Burgundy origins. They began a programed planting of the property that same year under the direction of Joel Myers and released their first wines in 1995 after completion of a modern gravity flow winery which was built into a hillside. The name WillKenzie was chosen from the name of the sedimentary soils common to the Yamhill-Carlton area.
104.5 acres are now planted on hilltops to the Pinot family of grapes and in the mid-2000s the Estate vineyard was supplemented by the 25-acre Jory Vineyard on Red Hills Road in the Dundee Hills. At a combined 130 acres, WillaKenzie is now the largest family vineyard holding in northwestern Oregon. There are a total of 68 acres of Pinot Noir, all planted on Willakenzie soil trained into an upright, double guyot trellising system.The vineyards have been farmed organically since their origins.
WillaKenzie Estate emphasizes sustainable viticulture, clonal and rootstock diversity, estate-grown fruit, and gentle winemaking practices. Noted French-born and now Oregon winemaker, Laurent Montalieu joined WillaKenzie Estate as a partner and winemaker, departing in 2003 to focus on his own label. The current winemaker is Thibaud Mandet and the viticulturist is Daniel Fey.
This winery produces consistently fine Pinot Noirs that are sold on the excellent website, through a wine club mailing list, and through a nicely-appointed tasting room located at 19143 NE Laughlin Road in Yamhill. They offer at least eight different Pinot Noirs as well as single block (Kiana, Aliette, Terres Basses, Triple Black Slopes) and clonal bottlings only available to wine club members. Total production, which is 100% estate grown, is 18,000 cases annually.
Ronni Lacroute was chosen 2011 Wine Person of the Year by the Oregon Wine Press.
Articles About WillaKenzie Estate
IPNC: Continuing Ed in Pinot Noirvana (6.35 8/6/2007)
Large Review of 2009 & 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs With a Few from 2008 & 2011 (9.7 5/9/2012)
Many Oregon Wineries Offering Pinot Noir for a C-Note or More (9.15 11/24/2012)
More Sips of Oregon Pinot Noir (7.23 8/17/2009)
Pinot Briefs (7.13 2/25/2009)
Pinot Gris: Oregon’s Signature White Wine (7.15 3/26/2009)
Pinot Noir Blanc: Pure Juice (9.11 9/11/2012)
2010 WillaKenzie Estate Estate Cuvée Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.65,TA 0.50, $28, screw cap. Aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Fruity nose offering an array of ripe, dark cherry, plum and berry aromas. Pushes the ripeness envelope with medium weight flavors of dark raspberries, black plum sauce, and black currants with a hint of vanilla cola and oak. Softly textured with firm, ripe tannins, lacking a bit in acid-driven vibrancy. Quite approachable now. Good (+). Reviewed May 11, 2012 ARTICLE »
2009 WillaKenzie Estate Aliette Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $39. This vineyard was the first planted at WillaKenzie and is named after the mother of owner Bernard Lacroute to reflect the feminine nature of the wine. 100% Pommard clone. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Subdued aromas of red cherries and berries with a floral riff. Medium weight flavors of red cherries and raspberries underlain with toasted oak, ending with a cherry-laden finish. Mild, fine-grain tannins, bright acidity, and substantial tannins that tend to overwhelm the delicate fruit. Good (+). Reviewed May 11, 2012 ARTICLE »
2007 Willakenzie Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.8% alc., 5,684 cases, $18, screw cap. Estate grown. · Delicate aromas of pear, melon and citrus echoed in the flavors. Perfect balance of richness and acidity with a lingering aromatic finish. Reviewed March 26, 2009 ARTICLE »
2007 WillaKenzie Estate Estate Cuveé Estate Bottled Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $26, screw cap. Represents the entire estate. Maceration in open-top fermenters. A blend of free flow and press wine. Aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color. Attractive aromas of dried cherries, herbs and oak with a floral accent. Light in weight featuring cherry and cranberry flavors with bright acidity. Very drinkable now. Good for what it is. Reviewed August 17, 2009 ARTICLE »
2006 Willakenzie Estate Pierre Léon Estate Bottled Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 2,433 cases, $43. Primarily 113, 114 and 115 clones. Yield 2.8 tons per acre. Aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Deeper aromas of black berries and cherries, wooded forest and oak which pick up intensity with time in the glass. Palate shows off decent mix of cherry and berry fruits with a hint of herbs and oak in the background. Elvis on velvet in texture with some persistence on the finish. Still lacking development, requiring some time in the glass to open up. Warrants cellaring for another year or two. Reviewed August 17, 2009 ARTICLE »
2006 WillaKenzie Estate Aliette Estate Bottled Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 793 cases, $48. Selection of estate-grown Pommard clones from the Aliette Vineyard and small amounts of Dijon clones. Named after Bernard Lacroute’s mother, Aliette was the first vineyard planted at WillaKenzie Estate in 1992. Yields were 2.8 tons per acre. Cool maceration followed by 25 days of skin contact and daily punch downs by a pneumatic punch down device. Aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Lovely perfumed nose of black cherries and black raspberries with the right hint of oak in the background. A lip smacker on the palate with discreetly concentrated berry fruits enhanced by underlying earthiness. Finesse trumps over fruit heaviness in this wine. Seamless, with soft tannins, a perfect grip of acidity and a finish that lingers. I like this wine for its Pinot delicacy, great scent and great persistence. Still drank beautifully the next day from a previously opened re-corked bottle. Dreamy! Reviewed August 17, 2009 ARTICLE »
2005 Willakenzie Estate Pierre Léon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Bernard and Ronni Lacroute purchased a 420-acre ranch in the hills of the Chehalem Valley in 1991. Over 100 acres have been planted to the Pinot family of grapes. A modern winery was built in 1995. The winemaker is Thibaud Mandet. This winery produces consistently fine Pinot Noirs. · This is a wine I could sip all night. Fresh and sweet-flavored Pinot extract which leaves a lasting impression. Reviewed August 6, 2007 ARTICLE »
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