Production: (2002) 1200 cases, plan to triple
Vineyards: 4 acres, Pinot Noir, 20 year old vines; plan to expand to 7 acres
Distribution: Self distributed -- many restaurants and wine stores throughout WA state
The English Estate farm was established in 1903 when Carl English's great-grandfather bought the property, originally consisting of 200 acres. The wonderful barn was erected turn of the century, and added onto in the teens, and again when converted for dairy use in the fifties. The original house is gone, the existing house was built in 1917; Carl is doing some renovation in early 2003.
The front dairy area of the barn includes a small corner room that once held the final milk storage tank. This area is naturally cool due to the concrete walls, and has been set up as a tasting area with a woodstove. There is also an additional small building in the front and center that they are currently in use as the tasting room.
Carl grew up on the farm, and remembers milking cows there as a kid. He worked for the Peace Corp in Tanzania in the early sixties. He lived in Vermont during late sixties through seventies, working in adult education. He returned to the farm in 1977, and began to restore it from years of neglect. In 1983, Carl showed some incredible foresight by planting Vinifera grapes with cuttings from Salishan Vineyards. He planted Pinot Noir (Pommard clone), Cab. Sauv., Merlot, for a total of 4 acres. They plan to expand the vineyards by 3 acres in the next year or so. They also buy grapes from both other Clark County vineyards, La Center and one in Yacolt. Carl has been making wine from these grapes for 15 years, and just recently decided to go commercial. Currently he co-owns a fireplace shop in Portland (OR).
The property behind vineyard is now a gravel mine. They anticipate rebuilding the slopes down into the hole to be a gravity fed winery and sloping terraces in the next few years. This dig is a blessing for them as they have been able to see first hand exactly the what the soil composition is down to 75 feet!
Their current production is all Pinot Noirs, including a Nouveau style, several dry reds, a sweet wine, and a port-style wine. Most are Estate, all are from Clark County.
The tasting room was opened for business in Apr-2002. It's manned by
Kristin Dowling, Carl's step-daughter. She also manages wine sales
and most of the business.
The Wines: (Spring 2003)
Carl English 2002-present
Of special note:
Carl believes that a wine should reflect the nature of the grape, and that the grape and the terroir within which it grows is what individualizes a wine. Thus he makes wines that are amazingly fruit-forward, producing wines that the consumer loves. The grapes at Gravel Mine Vineyard on English Estate are grown on 75 feet of gravel affording ideal drainage for the grapes. The low water level forces the roots through amazing depths of nutrients and minerals in the soils and thus helps them to develop a character unique to English Estate wines. In each bottle, one senses the typical underlying cherry wood terroir of Gravel Mine Vineyard Wines.
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