DDO’s boss: a glance at Veronique Drouhin-Boss and her vineyards – Domaine Drouhin Oregon – Brief Article
In early March, I had the opportunity to meet with Domaine Drouhin Oregon’s (DDO) winemaker, Veronique Drouhin-Boss, who was in the Bay Area to attend the American Institute of Wine & Food’s 12th Annual Lifestyle Auction & Gala, where her 1999 Domaine Drouhin Pinot noir was poured.
Drouhin-Boss–who has an advanced enology degree from the University of Dijon–is a fourth generation winemaker from the distinguished Drouhin family of France and has been winemaker at DDO since the first vintage in 1998. According to the DDO media kit, Drouhin-Boss “seeks always to capture the essence of what nature has provided in (her) unique estate vineyard each year, rather than trying to dictate a particular style.”
“It’s a shame people change the style of wines,” she says. “Pinot noir is very elegant. You can change that with your winemaking style, and I think you should use technology to change the style of wine and not be too traditional, but you should have your style and stick to it.
The DDO estate, located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, is 225 acres in total, with 85 acres currently planted and 50 additional acres to be planted over the next several years, all to Pinot noir. As of 2001, DDO had 72 acres of Pinot noir and 13 acres of Chardonnay.
Drouhin-Boss, who splits her time between Oregon and Burgundy, says that while the soil in Burgundy (limestone) and Oregon (basalt) is very different, Pinot noir is doing well in both locales because of the climate. However, she adds that Chardonnay is not doing as well, yet. “The home of Chardonnay is Burgundy, but I think Chardonnay will become famous in Oregon. The clones we use in Oregon are from Burgundy and they’re doing very well. They taste and act like Chardonnay; the quality is there.” The Chardonnay at DDO is an assortment of Dijon clones, and the Pinot noir is an assortment of Dijon clones grafted onto a variety of rootstocks.
The DDO vineyards are known for having what is thought to be the highest vine density in Oregon, if not the United States. The vines are planted 1 meter apart with rows 1.3 meters apart, giving 2,100 plants per acre. According to DDO, “each vine produces approximately three-quarters of a bottle of wine.”
“Our viticulture philosophy is high density, low yield; that’s the whole secret,” Drouhin-Boss says. “Viticulture has been our main focus. When you plant a vine it’s for 50 or 60 years; its an important choice.” Drouhin-Boss adds that while the vineyards in Burgundy are entirely organic–even horse-plowed–they are not as of yet at DDO; however, they are slowly moving toward this trend.
“You have to believe it,” she says. “If you don’t believe in it, it won’t work. You teach your vines to defend themselves from any infection. All of the natural elements are very important.
This year, DDO plans to produce 3,000 cases of Chardonnay and 17,000 cases of Pinot noir, which is full capacity. “We want to focus on quality,” Drouhin-Boss says. “We’re gaining experience; there are always things we can work on.
For more information on DDO, contact them at P.O. Box 700, Dundee, Ore. 97115, phone (503) 864-2700 or fax (503) 864-3377.
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