The story of our estate Endeavour vineyard goes back to the early 90s when Don Wallace, then a young and energetic vineyard manager, was fascinated with how technology and farming were being used to plant new vineyards. Commenting on those early times, Don says there was not a lot of science behind vineyard development. “Back in the early 70s when we first got our start, vineyard development was really done sort of willy-nilly – there wasn’t much rhyme or reason as to why and where grapes were planted. As a young guy coming up in the business, I thought there could be a better way of doing things.”
As the winery continued to grow, a need for more Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sent Don on a chase for a new vineyard site. For almost five years, he scoured the Dry Creek Valley for the ideal location. Using an airplane and topographic maps, Don zeroed in on the Lytton Springs area as a possible locale for a new vineyard. “I saw this area from the air and it just looked perfect. Then, when I actually walked the ground, I knew this was it. The combination of excellent soil conditions, drainage and sun exposure were ideal.” There were other desirable characteristics as well. In looking to create a sustainable vineyard ecosystem, it was obvious that the amphitheater-style setting would allow for rain water sheet flow – essentially creating a natural pond and giving the vineyard its own water source.
The planting of Endeavour vineyard was yet another technology driven effort. Working with Vineyard Manager Duff Bevill, Don and Duff implemented a concept called intermittent vine planting. Using topographic maps and soil quality analysis, they were able to determine which parts of the vineyard had lower soil fertility versus other areas that had higher soil fertility. In planting the vines, areas that were higher in fertility had more spacing and those lower in fertility were planted closer together. The result is a vineyard that maintains a closed loop system – completely sustainable and able to maintain and moderate yields on its own. In other words, at Endeavour vineyard we do very little leaf thinning and drop almost no fruit during the growing season. The vineyard is able to moderate itself throughout the cycle of the season.
Walking through Endeavour vineyard is a real treat. The vineyard is alive with all manner of insects, birds and water fowl. With 30 acres of vines planted, more than half of Endeavour is Cabernet Sauvignon with Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot rounding out the acreage. The vineyard is pristine with rolling hillsides that face mostly west in an effort to soak up as much afternoon sun as possible. As Don walks and talks more about his “baby” there is a sense of pride in his voice. “All of the collective vineyard experience and knowledge that I have accumulated went into this vineyard. It’s so rewarding to see our efforts pay off.”