People often ask about the French origins of LennÃ©. Then, I tell them it was born from a chicken farm west of London, England, in the small village of Wolkingham. It was there that my father-in-law Len raised a family including my wife Karen who eventually made her way to Oregon. The chicken farm is long gone, replaced by upscale houses and Lenny gone with it, having died in 1999. But Len helped us put a down payment on LennÃ© and I'd like to think he is up there now, doing what he can to keep us going.
Our search for a great site to plant Pinot Noir started in 1999 and ended on a warm April day in 2000. We walked up a hill into an old pasture some friends had told us about and it was immediately clear how warm the site was, what perfect orientation the site had and how well drained the soils were. I knew the minute we climbed into that pasture, that this was an A+ site; it had the right elevation, orientation and soil type.
What I didn't know is how difficult it would be to farm. But it is true that great wines never come easy. There are many gray areas in wine, but if there is one truth, it is that great wines come from poor soils. Vines are built for reproducing themselves and poor soils control vigor and produce very high quality fruit.
I can vouch for the fact that this soil is about as bad as they come. It's peavine mostly, and when you dig into it you wonder how anything grows. We have had our share of disasters and lost thousands of plants over the years we have been here. We have paid a price for our determination(or stupidity) not to irrigate and we have made our share of mistakes and felt them sting.
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