King Estate is known for producing outstanding wines, most famously Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. What’s less well known is how each bottle of wine King Estate makes tells a story down to each individual vineyard and even the block where the grape was grown. This is possible because, from the moment the fruit is harvested, we keep it separated by lot all the way through fermentation. Increasingly wine lovers across the country are discovering the excellence of small lot wines that showcase all that King Estate and Oregon have to offer.
Why Lots Matter
What exactly do we mean by lot? Every block, varietal and clone is assigned a lot number at harvest. By picking at the block level, we can help assure that every grape is harvested at optimal maturity. Managing the harvest at such a granular level is especially important in a wine region like the Willamette Valley with its many micro-climates, where blocks will perform differently than their neighbors and by year.
Oregon Wines are Known for Excellence
Oregon is home to almost 1,000 wineries that produce less than 2% of the nation’s total domestic wine volume. In quality, Oregon clearly punches above its weight, accounting for 6% of the wines that scored 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator magazine in 2021. In past years the number has been as high as 20%.
King Estate a Top 100 Winery
In another recognition of the high scores our wines consistently earn, King Estate has been named one of Wine & Spirits’ Top 100 Wineries 14 times. One factor in Oregon’s enduring excellence is that so many of the state’s vineyards and wineries are still relatively small and family owned. That translates into care and attention going into the wines that bear the family’s name.
King Estate is Family Owned
King Estate was founded in 1991 by Ed King and his late father, also named Ed King. Over the ensuing 31 years, King Estate has grown and evolved into one of the state’s most prominent wineries. By national and international standards, King Estate would be considered medium sized at most, but we have always operated as the small, family-owned business we envisioned at the beginning. We trace our success to the fact that we have never strayed from our Oregon roots.
King Estate Founded on Family, Tradition, Stewardship
King Estate has managed to do what some consider almost impossible: to cultivate a national following while staying true to our founding values of family, tradition and stewardship. Those values mean that every wine must reflect our respect for the land that grew the grapes and the people who tended them. Our wines are manipulated as little as possible; instead they are kept in separate tanks by individual small lots under the watchful eye of our winemakers. Like parents caring for a newborn baby, our winemakers mind each individual lot closely – keeping the wine safe and allowing it to develop into its best expression of itself. (A 2020 Oregon Wine Press article showcased King Estate’s commitment to small lot wines.)
A Peek Behind the Scenes
To keep all the fruit separate by lot requires a feat of organization and the proper equipment. During harvest our winemakers assemble in a conference room we have dubbed the war room, where lots are tracked, fruit is tallied and endless pots of coffee are consumed.
After harvest the process continues in our winery where 400 individual lots will be monitored throughout fermentation. By comparison, our entire harvest could fit into one tank at a large California winery. In 2019 we acquired a new basket press that allows us to process batches as small as one-half to one ton.
The Finished Product: Premier King Estate Wine
The wines remain separate during fermentation with daily checks that monitor how the wines are progressing. By keeping everything separate, the winemakers retain maximum flexibility and options for future blending. Will the wine be bottled as a stand-alone, single vineyard wine? Or blended with complementary fruit to bring out the best of each lot? We won’t know until the wine tells us. Whatever the decision, the person who opens a bottle of King Estate wine is assured that the wine they are enjoying has been made with care by King Estate’s expert winemaking team.