Our oldest vineyard is Abbey Ridge located high in the Dundee Hills at an elevation range of 500-700 feet. The first vines were planted here in 1976 and, as some of the oldest vines in Oregon, they produce some of Cameron’s finest wines. A slightly younger block of Pinot noir was planted in 1990 on a hillside above the original vines. Known as Arley’s Leap, it is named after Bill & Julia’s dear, old departed dog, Arley, whose famous leap was from a second story balcony in Victoria when startled by a cat!
A second hillside at Abbey Ridge was planted to Chardonnay and Pinot noir in 1984 and it is these grapes which form the basis for Cameron’s Dundee Hills cuvées (along with additional fruit from other Dundee Hills locations). At the highest elevation on this estate one will find several acres of Pinot bianco, Pinot grigio and Auxerrois which go into Cameron’s Italian white blends (Giovanni and Giuliano).
At Abbey Ridge only organic sprays are used on the grapes. Moisture levels in the soil of this non-irrigated vineyard are managed by a rotating system of cover crops and tilled (or clean cultivated) areas. By adjusting mowed height of the cover crops relative to rainfall, appropriate quantities of water can be retained in the soil for the vines. The older vines have extremely deep roots to take advantage of moisture there during the dry, late summer months. Abbey Ridge is one of the highest vineyards in the Red Hills of Dundee and is generally harvested relatively late (mid-October for the Pinot noir and mid to late October for the white varieties). This situation produces fruit with high natural acidities and wines with tremendous aging potential. Yields average 2.0-2.5 tons per acre for the Pinot noirs (27-34 hl/Hectare) and 2.0-3.0 tons per acre for the white varieties (27- 40 hl/Hectare).
For another take on Clos Electrique and Abbey Ridge, check out the PBS documentary, Life in Vine, which also follows Cameron Winery through the 1999 harvest.