St. Innocent Winery
St. Innocent Winery is a well-established and prestigious maker of Pinot Noir and cool climate white wines
based in Salem, Oregon. Established in 1988, winemaker Mark Vlossek produces age worthy Pinot Noirs from
estate (80 acres owned) and leased (40 acres) vineyards. The winery’s reputation has been built on vineyard designated
Pinot Noir from purchased grapes. Yearly wine production is just under 10,000 cases. The name,
St. Innocent, is in honor of Mark’s father, John Innocent Vlossak, who was a wine importer and introduced his
son to the pleasures of fine wine at a young age. John was born on All Innocents Day.
Early on, Mark Vlossek was also the winemaker for Panther Creek Winery, where he acquired his Pinot Noir
winemaking expertise. The first St. Innocent Pinot Noir was from the 1998 vintage which was a blend from
several Willamette Valley vineyards. This wine was to later be replaced by the Villages Cuvée which debuted
In 2006, St. Innocent Winery joined with Tim and Kari Ramey as partners in Zenith Vineyard (formerly
O’Connor Vineyard from which Vlossak had sourced fruit) in the Eola Hills. Zenith Vineyard has a total of 13.5
acres of Pinot Noir exclusively for St. Innocent’s use with some additional fruit sold to wineries in Oregon and
California. St. Innocent’s new winery and Zenith’s wedding and event facility located adjacent Zenith Vineyard
compliment each other.
Currently, the lineup of single vineyard Pinot Noir includes wines from Freedom Hill Vineyard, Justice Vineyard,
Momtazi Vineyard, Shea Vineyard, Temperance Hill Vineyard, White Rose Vineyard and Zenith Vineyard. St.
Innocent was a long time purchaser of fruit from Seven Springs Vineyard but due to its sale, no longer has
access to the fruit (the 2006 St. Innocent Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir, the last produced, is available on
the winery website for $100 a bottle).
The St. Innocent Pinot Noirs are classic expressions of Pinot Noir with exquisite balance and generous acidity.
They are terroir-driven wines that show both the character of the site and the vintage. Vlossak’s goal is to
create wines to “compliment and extend the pleasure of a meal.” The fruit is de-stemmed, crushed with
30%-40% whole berries, and fermented in 3 to 8-ton fermenters with no sulfur dioxide after a short cold soak.
Aging is carried out for 15-17 months in French oak barrels with the amount of new wood matched to individual
vineyards. The wines are rarely fined, racked or filtered.
Visit the informative website at www.stinnocentwine.com for more detailed description of the vineyard sources
and to buy the current 2008 vintage wines. Unfortunately, the Shea, Justice and Zenith Pinot Noirs for 2008 are
sold out, but are available on the secondary market. The Shea and Freedom Hill Pinot Noirs are sold as futures each year, and the 2009 vintage for these wines is now offered. The beautiful tasting room is open Tuesday-Sunday from
May 1 to October 31 and weekends 11:00 to 4:00 year round. Open Houses are over Memorial Day and
Thanksgiving Day weekends. Private tours and tastings are available by appointment.
I recently sampled several of the 2008 St. Innocent offerings. This vintage was the second one in the new
winery facility and harvest was blessed with good weather. Yields were reduced from most sites, but the
weather remained dry until Halloween, allowing leisurely picking at each vineyard site. The single vineyard
wines need time to develop.
2008 St. Innocent Freedom Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc
13.5% alc., 605 cases, $20.
Planted in 1993. Fermented 31% in barrel and 69% in tank. Aged 8 months sur lies.
Light straw color in the
glass. Delicate aromas of lemon curd and pastry cream. Demure flavors of citrus, peach, green apple and a
hint of oak. Oregon does well with this grape and this is a fine example. Good.
2008 St. Innocent Vitae Springs Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.0% alc., 752 cases, $20. Vitae Springs was established in 1986 and is
located 5 miles south of Salem. Tank fermented, aged 8 months sur lie, and
lightly filtered. No oak.
Light straw color. Aromas of white orchard fruits and a
hint of pineapple. The flavors echo the aromas with added notes of spice and
lychee. Welcoming richness and persistence. One of Oregon’s best examples
of this variety. Very good.
2008 St. Innocent Villages Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $27.
hue in the glass. Develops slowly in the glass revealing charming aromas of raspberries and cherries with
hints of smoky oak and spice. Vivid cranberry and cherry fruit flavors that are a bit tart due to hi-tone acidity.
On the delicate side, with supple tannins, making it easy to drink. Good.
2008 St. Innocent Temperance Hill Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 656 cases, $32. The vineyard is 10 miles northwest of Salem.
Sourced from blocks planted in 1984 and 1995. Yields 1.6 tons per acre.
nose draws you in with a perfume of dark berry fruits, rose petals and oak char.
Soft and sensual in the mouth with layers of flavor including tastes of dark
berries, black cherries, plum, cola, tar, brown spice, root beer and herbs. A
thread of oak runs through which needs time to integrate. Underlain with bright
acidity. Elegantly styled and alluring, but needs time to open in the glass. The
label advises decanting now and I agree completely. An excellent cellar
candidate that will reward patience. Very good.
2008 St. Innocent Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $42. From Block 6 planted in 1998 and 2000 on shallow
Willakenzie soil. Yields were 2.0 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 16
months in 39% new French oak barrels.
Deep, dark reddish-purple color in the
glass. The nose is reluctant and has not come together but offers some charms
of black fruits, oak, loam and red rose petals. Dense flavors of black currents,
blackberries, black cherries and edible flowers with flamboyant ripe tannins. Not
giving now but has a big heart and a welcoming silky smooth mouth feel. Give
this one at least 4 to 5 years in the cellar to integrate the tannins and show off
the nuances of this vineyard. Very good.
2008 St. Innocent White Rose Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $60.
Moderate reddish-purple color. Shy
but lovely perfume of fresh pie cherries with a sniff of smoky oak. An
immensely satisfying wine offering delicious black cherry and berry
flavors with a hint of citrus peel in the background. Amazing persistence
of cherry essence on the finish. Silky in the mouth with balanced supple
tannins. This wine really grabs your attention. You can drink it now but it will get
even better over time.