Wines made by Steven Westby during his tenure as Head Winemaker at the former Witness Tree Vineyards not only provided Surdyk’s customers with a local connection to the Willamette Valley (Steven was born and raised here in MN), it also gave us a chance to enjoy small-production, premium level Oregon wines at attainable prices. With his own label, Elemental Cellars, Steven continues to make affordable, boutique Oregon wines, including a Pinot Noir sourced from the former Witness Tree Estate Vineyard.
Posted on May 26th 2021
The fruit for this delightful wine was grown at Croft Vineyard, an organically farmed site located in the foothills of the coast range near Monmouth in the Willamette Valley. Vineyard owners Chancy and Toni Croft are committed to growing only the finest grapes possible on their south-east facing site. The grapes were picked on October 6th. They were gently pressed, allowed to settle, and racked to neutral barrels, where the wine was fermented to dryness. We stirred the lees once a week for two months. The wine spent ten and a half months in barrel before bottling. 2017 Elemental Cellars Pinot Gris offers delightful fruit flavors reminiscent of apple and pear, beautifully balanced by a crisp, refreshing acidity. A total of 181 cases were produced.
Witness Tree Vineyard produces a tiny quantity of Pinot Blanc—only 2.5 acres are planted. The bud-wood for this Pinot Blanc came from two Pinot Gris vines that "mutated" (or went "blanc") in the Abbey Ridge Vineyard located near Dundee, Oregon. Unlike most of the Pinot Blanc planted in the Willamette Valley, this clone is different by virtue of its smaller, more compact clusters, and its richer flavors and more generous textures. The wine is packed with tropical fruit aromas. The palate delivers the essence of ripe apple and pear flavors, beautifully balanced by the wines crisp natural acidity. The ample weight of the wine makes it the perfect accompaniment for lighter table fare - particularly crab or other shellfish preparations. It also serves as an extraordinarily refreshing aperitif. 124 cases were made.
2017 Elemental Cellars Chardonnay was made from grapes grown in the “Zenith Vineyard” and the “Bjornson Vineyard”, both located in the Eola-Amity Hills in the Willamette Valley. Both vineyards were harvested on October 10th. Once in the winery, the fruit was gently pressed and then transferred to French oak barrels where the fermentation with selected yeast strains took place.
This wine represents an eight-barrel blend, two of which were new. It is highly aromatic offering aromas reminiscent of apples and pears, with just a hint of vanilla and spice. It offers flavors that are rich and yet clean, and are very well balanced by bright acidity. The finish lingers on and on. 192 cases were produced.
This 2016 Pinot Noir was made from grapes grown in the Witness Tree Vineyard located in the Eola-Amity Hills. It came from a section of the vineyard which was planted in 1982 with the “Pommard” clone of Pinot Noir, making these vines some of the oldest planted in the valley. Once harvested, the grapes were destemmed, cold soaked, and then spent two weeks in the fermenter. After pressing, the wine was moved to barrel where it rested for eleven months prior to bottling. It is intensely aromatic, unbelievably dark in color, and on the palate explodes with deep, rich red fruit and spice. The finish echoes on and on. Only 199 cases were created.