Whilst on holiday in 1986, Michael Etzel came upon an 88-acre pig farm for sale located on Ribbon Ridge in the Northern Willamette Valley, Yamhill County, Oregon.After some deliberation, Michael purchased the farm with his brother-in-law (the French idiom is "beaux frères"), Robert Parker, Jr. Michael uprooted his young family from Colorado and moved to the farm the following summer. He began his focused pursuit as a vineyard manager by planting only Pinot Noir and slowly transforming the old pig and dairy farm into his jewel. Whilst planting his own vineyard, Michael worked four harvests at Ponzi Winery. In 1990, Michael harvested his first crop and sold the grapes, except enough to make one barrel, to winemakers Ken Wright and Dick Ponzi. In 1991, a renovation of one of the barns led to the creation of Beaux Frères Winery. With each new vintage, Michael's efforts further unveil his pursuit of Pinot Noir that is the purest expression of the vineyard.
The Beaux Frères Vineyard
This single estate wine comes from the most prestigious terroir in Willamette Valley. The Beaux Frères Vineyard is located on an 88-acre farm atop Ribbon Ridge, near Newberg (Yamhill County). Tall and stately Douglas fir trees cover nearly 50 acres of the farm, with homestead and winery buildings occupying another eight acres. The vineyard is situated on 30 acres (24 of which are planted) of steep, contiguous southeast, south and southwest facing hillsides of Willakenzie soils, at elevations of around 400 feet. Planting began in 1988, with tightly planted Pinot Noir vines spaced at a density of about 2200 plants to the acre. The oldest vines in the vineyard are now a seasoned 31 years of age, and the vineyard is a mixture of own-rooted Pommard and Wädenswil clones and younger Dijon clones on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.
The Willamette Valley at Ribbon Ridge was established in 2005 with 800 acres of vines. The vineyards have a lower elevation, allowing it to be shielded from winds, resulting in warmer temperatures and less rainfall.
The Zena Crown vineyard is known as one of the most prestigious single vineyard estates in the Willamette Valley. Positioned on a southwest facing slope of weathered volcanic soils, Zena Crown Vineyard is clustered amidst the most historic vineyards of the Eola-Amity Hills and is planted with Dijon clones of Pinot Noir on Riparia Gloire rootstock.
The Upper Terrace Vineyard, just north and a bit higher elevation from the Beaux Freres Vineyard, was first planted in 2000. It is comprised of Dijon clones of Pinot Noir covering about 9 acres of the 40-acre site-the rest is densely forested. The vines are spaced one-meter apart in rows six-feet wide with one fruiting cane per vine, tied horizontally along the fruiting wire at about 24 inches above the ground. Beaux Freres has had biodynamic and organic practices since 2002.
Beaux Frères began exploring biodynamic farming, finding that by avoiding commercial sprays in favour of gentle tonics like dandelion and stinging nettle tea, leads the way to a symbiotic relationship with the landscape. They compost on-site, graft their own cuttings, and take great care to observe and connect with the vines regularly. In the spring of 2017, the second-generation winery began a new partnership with the eighth generation of Maisons & Domaines Henriot.