Fans of our Estate Merlot will recall it has historically been sourced entirely from our Estate Seven Hills Vineyard. Beginning with the 2011 vintage, the Estate Merlot will also include fruit from our Estate Ferguson Vineyard. Blending fruit from these two remarkable sites contributes additional dimensions to the wine. Our winemaking team particularly likes the interplay of Ferguson’s density and basalt mineralty with Seven Hills’ elegance and refined structure. You may learn more about the two vineyards that comprise this blockbuster Merlot below.
Estate Ferguson Vineyard
Our newest estate vineyard is named in honor of our founders, Jean and Baker Ferguson. Located at the southern edge of the Walla Walla Valley Appellation, this 42-acre prime site was strategically selected with an appreciation for the property’s natural strengths. At an elevation of 1,350 to 1,500 feet, the vines are rooted in fractured basalt from 15-million-year-old ancient lava flows and overlaid with wind-blown, glacial loess. We have 18 acres planted in a multi-clone mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and smaller quantities of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Syrah.
L’Ecole’s first wine from Ferguson Vineyard, a cabernet based Bordeaux blend – 2011 Estate Ferguson – was recently named “Best Bordeaux in the World” at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards. We could not be more thrilled and excited for the future of Ferguson Vineyard!
“The Wall” A rock formation at the vineyard is partially exposed,
revealing a quarry of fractured basalt.
Mixed layers of multiple lava flows are woven
together in a puzzle-like pattern, intersected
with deep veins of calcium carbonate leaching
deep into the basalt.
At the highest elevation, the soil depth is only 2 to 3 feet,
such that the vine roots penetrate deep into the basalt,
providing a complex array of rich minerals.
Estate Seven Hills Vineyard
The highly acclaimed Seven Hills Vineyard is located in the south central portion of the Walla Walla Valley appellation. The vineyard was originally planted in 1981 and has been expanded to more than 230 acres, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc. With an elevation of 900 – 1,100 feet, the site has excellent soil and air drainage and is one of the most technologically advanced in the industry. Vineyard soils are in the Ellisford Series, which is a wind-blown, glacial loess that is geologically young and rich in minerals.
L’Ecole is a co-owner of the vineyard with winery partners Leonetti Cellar and Pepper Bridge Winery. Approximately one-third of our red wine production comes from Seven Hills Vineyard. The vineyard’s attributes contribute significantly to these wine’s characteristic rich elegance, earthy structure, seductive aromas and complex, silky finish.
Seven Hills Vineyard was named by Wine & Spirits
Magazine as one of “Ten Great Vineyards of the World!”.