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Layne Vineyard

Layne Vineyard 2017 Merlot

Oregon Wine Press - Person of the Year Pick

I first met the Laynes shortly after I started at Troon in 2004. I remember the day I first visited the vineyard, which sat at the end of a long driveway, following the Caris Creek draw back into the hills above the Valley. Like many sites in the Applegate, you would never know that the vineyard existed, and yet, there it was, 35 acres of old vines, some of the very first planted in Southern Oregon.

Roger and Barrie Layne moved to the Applegate from California in the early 1970’s. Barrie hailed from Napa, but her family owned a dairy there, not grapevines. However, on their first visit to the Applegate, they met Dick Troon, who, in 1972, had already planted 10 acres of grapevines. They decided to follow suit, and planted some of their own the following year, including Southern Oregon’s first Merlot vines.

As a winemaker at Troon, we made some of our very best and most popular wines from the Layne Vineyard, including the “Old Vine Meritage”, a Bordeaux blend from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It was the Old Merlot, the original vines planted at Layne, that held that blend together and was always one of my favorites. When that block became available in 2015, I was excited to have the chance to make it on its own. Not only is that block imbued with history, but it makes a wine with outstanding natural balance and character.

I always wanted to make it on its own, and so, in concert with the Laynes, we decided to produce it and label it under the “Layne Vineyard” label. - Herb Quady

Layne Vineyard

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Layne Vineyard, Grants Pass, Oregon
2017 Merlot

The 2017 Merlot in this release is a Cellar 503 exclusive sneak peak into the future. You are the first to taste it and as such - for now, only you can be the judge.

Notes on the 2016...

This is a substantive, structured wine, with a classic profile. Flavors include anise, plum, and mint jelly, and it maintains an acidic backbone which guarantees that it will hold well under further aging. For now, it will benefit from a decanting and a thick steak. - HQ

This old vine Merlot has benefited greatly from the extra time in bottle. The aromatics shoot up from the glass, a rich, enveloping sensory fog. Brambly berries, clean barnyard, light compost, graphite and dried herbs can be detected and then open up in the mouth into a complex single vineyard, single variety expression of the grape. You may not associate Merlot with Southern Oregon, but this makes the case for old vines in the right spot. It's got a hint of tang, with plenty of acid under tart red strawberry fruit. The texture and length tell you it's a wine worth digging into; the flavors hold up very well over several days. - Paul Gregutt

It's an honor to taste a wine made with fruit from mature vines planted by the late southern Oregon wine pioneer Roger Layne and his wife Barrie. The tannins of this lighter-bodied Merlot are integrated and gentle acidity brings flavors like tart cherry, orange slices and English breakfast tea to life. — Michael Alberty

Deep Dive...

In the late 1970s, David Adelsheim of Adelsheim Vineyard needed wine to sell while waiting for his estate vineyard in Newberg to come online. There were few Willamette Valley options then, so Adelsheim purchased merlot and semillon grapes from a vineyard in Pasco, Washington.

The strategy had a drawback. Adelsheim said many consumers were confused by an Oregon winery with the word “Washington” on their labels. In 1985, Adeslheim started buying merlot grapes from the Laynes, instead.

“Roger was the gentlest soul I ever knew,” Adelsheim said. “It seems that many people moved to the area south of Grants Pass to escape from civilization. Some were ornery, and you didn’t want to have to negotiate with them. But Roger and Barrie were completely different. They simply didn’t like conflict. When we had to discuss pricing, for example, I sometimes had to urge them to raise their price.”

It turned out the vineyard’s fruit was as nice as its owners.

During a 1986 visit to Adelsheim’s winery, French winemaker Christian Moueix of Château Pétrus and Dominus fame tasted Adelsheim’s first Layne Vineyard merlot from barrel. Adelsheim said Moueix “was blown away” and wanted to know more about the vineyard.

A Cellar 503 selection in January 2024, Sense of Place 2024 Applegate Valley | Merlot