The Vineyard

Importantly, our first investment was the vineyard. Given the financial commitment and time it takes to properly mature a vineyard, it is not common practice in the Northwest today to invest in an estate vineyard. However, this is fundamental to controlling wine quality. We invested further in the vineyard’s infrastructure and management in an effort to control all facets of quality in the winemaking process. With a passion for making expressive wines that bring joy to the palate, we’re keen to fully realize the potential for growing the highest quality wine grapes and birthing wines true to their place of origin.

Established in 2007, SJR Vineyard is situated in The Rocks District on 12.6 acres within the Walla Walla Valley. We are committed to making single-vineyard, estate-controlled wines utilizing sustainable farming practices. We are obsessive about exploiting balanced soil conditions and native weather patterns to make wines that fully express their terroir and vintage. Our viticultural discipline is strong and addresses each block and variety independently – assessing appropriate training form, trellis structure, pruning rigor, nutrient and irrigation strategy. We know that the eventual capacity of the whole vine (and the resulting wine quality) is based on very careful attention to these details.

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Winegrowing Philosophy

Farming will always be the keystone for Delmas. We believe that world-class wine is derived from estate vineyards—meticulously cultivated and sustainably farmed. For us, this is a family journey. From the start we’ve focused on involvement within the larger wine community, upping our game with every growing season and celebrating the work of our peers.

Because everything starts in the vineyard, we do our best to bring the essence of the land straight to the bottle with as little interference as possible. We produce small lots of estate wines from single vineyards, showcasing distinctive qualities of that place and nowhere else.

We take full control of the entire process from growing the grapes to selling the wine. Yet, we take pleasure in knowing that there is always a random element; we never know precisely what Mother Nature may decide to express. This reality leads to vintage variation. We adapt to seasonal variation by focusing our efforts on the quality of the work necessary to achieve balance in the vineyard, and allowing the character of each vintage to stand tall.

We embrace the unique advantage of SJR's own-rooted vines, which are more sensitive/expressive of the terroir. Finally, we have employed a management strategy that, at its core, relies on feet-in-the-rows and viticultural practices that achieve a balanced and respectful expression of SJR Vineyard.

In response to potential extreme winter cold that can result in bud damage, and given our experience with burying canes post-harvest, we created/established a new training form (a mini-head trained system, or, MHT) for SJR; which protects buds while allowing for permanent spur positions.

areial.jpg A map of The Rocks District AVA
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The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater

‘The Rocks District’ is the only AVA in the U.S. whose boundaries (96%) are dictated by a single soil series (Freewater Series) and a single land form (alluvial fan).

Final TTB approval of this 5.9 square mile (3767 acre) AVA within Walla Walla Valley was granted in 2015.

SJR Vineyard sits on the western border of this Oregon AVA. ‘The Rocks District’ is receiving international recognition for its wines, particularly Syrah. There is no denying the distinctive character of these wines. ‘The Rocks District’ advantages of water availability, excellent drainage and favorable climate provide the basis for global distinction. Small vineyard parcels of 'The Rocks District’ wine grapes have made their presence felt across the country over the last couple of decades by virtue of specialized farming practices and highly regarded wines being produced from these sought after wine grapes.

Importantly, diversity prevails within ‘The Rocks District’, and provides a framework for charting future vineyard development—where hands-on work, close proximity to the land and a discernable independent spirit represent a unique winegrowing culture opportunity.

Certifications

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SJR Vineyard is internationally certified for sustainable farming practices and as a Salmon Safe vineyard by the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC) through its U.S.-based affiliate, LIVE, which is based in Oregon. The IOBC promotes environmentally safe methods of biological control and integrated pest management.

What Winemakers Say

SJR Vineyard supplies fruit to Rasa Vineyards, Rotie Cellars and Force Majeure.

Todd Alexander at Force Majeure (forcemajeurevineyards.com)

"I have been a firsthand witness to the care, attention and hard work that Steve, Brooke and Mary Robertson have put into SJR Vineyard and Delmas. SJR Vineyard is a beautiful site with so much potential that is only just beginning to be expressed. We are very excited to be part of what they’re doing, and to craft another unique expression from this special place that has so much to offer.”

Billo Naravane at Rasa Vineyards (rasavineyards.com)

"SJR Vineyard produces Syrah with an amazing sense of terroir; there is a haunting earthiness and minerality that is present in all of the wines from this vineyard. The resulting wines have that rare combination of elegance, finesse, and power without heaviness. SJR Vineyard is a site that truly has something spectacular to say."