Named after the undifferentiated cell tissue in all plants’ growing points, a Meristem is capable of becoming any part of a plant, be it shoot, leaf, tendril or fruit. To these brothers, who themselves once were the same cell, this biological reference represents a shared beginning with limitless possibilities. To them, this is the start of something organic and something lasting.
Vince has over 10 years of winemaking and vine growing experience, obtaining the first Enology and Viticulture degree ever given at Oregon State University, and has worked harvests throughout the world, from Burgundy to New Zealand, and Napa to Australia, and back to Oregon. He is currently the assistant winemaker to the legendary Robert Brittan, where he has helped create the wines for critically acclaimed brands such as Brittan Vineyards, Ayoub and Winderlea Wines, among others.
Cheney took a less conventional path toward winemaking. A dedicated Wood Scientist, Cheney earned Undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the Oregon State University Forestry Department and studied wood preservation professionally until the lure of grape fermentation became too strong. Working his first harvest for his brother in 2010, Cheney has since participated in an impressive number of vintages throughout the world, doing four full harvests in 2012, and three the previous year. he currently is taking classes at night preparing for another Master’s degree, this time in Enology and Viticulture.
Having worked with grapes from every corner of the Willamette Valley, it is no coincidence that Vince and Cheney have selected vineyards from the McMinnville AVA (American Viticultural Area). Despite being little known and rarely publicized, they strongly believe that the area has something unique and compelling to offer. Because of the unusual combination of its weather and soils, the wines have the inimitable capacity to be powerful and concentrated, yet elegant and lithe.
For their first release of wines, Cheney and Vince purchased Pinot Noir grapes in 2012 from two historic vineyards, both on the southern slope of the McMinnville AVA and both over 20 years old. The wines were fermented, aged and bottled separately, and like the winemakers, they share a characteristic sense of origin while exhibiting very specific identities.
Bass Hill Vineyard, once known as Schouten Vineyard produced a Pinot Noir that is layered with deep, dark red fruits and enigmatic spices. It is rich and mouth coating and focused handsomely by a solid core of acid. It is of a classic style of thoughtful pinot noirs, whose complexity will only increase as the years go by.
Meredith-Mitchell Vineyard has become an important source of grapes in the Willamette Valley, producing some of the most powerfully structured and acid driven Pinot Noirs in the world. The 2012 is lush with sweet black fruit that is round, supple and welcoming. But it is also intensely dense on the palate, with intriguingly dark spices and dried herbs.
Meristem Wines is proud to present these first Pinot Noirs and is excited for the future. The 2013’s are in barrel and plans are in place to work with the same fruit in the fall. Cheney and Vince see this as a new family legacy and truly a partnership that started before birth and will continue indefinitely.