EQUINOX RIDGE ESTATE VINEYARD
Walla Walla Valley
Our Estate Cabernet Franc vineyard, Equinox Ridge, grows in the foothills of the Blues in Walla Walla and we are lucky to be able to watch the growth and evolution of the wine from beginning to the finished wine in the bottle. This wine gives us the opportunity to control every part of the process and put our full might into the bottle. Labor of love is what got this wine to where it is today and it will be for years to come.
VARIETALS SOURCED: Cabernet Franc
CLONES: Clone #1
ROOTSTOCK: Own rooted
WHY WE LOVE IT
We love everything about our only Estate Vineyard. Its natural beauty is equaled only by the world-class Cabernet Franc grapes that we carefully cultivate from its 10+ year-old vines. The long growing season at Equinox Ridge combined with its eastern exposure provides for the perfect place for this noble varietal.
OUR EQUINOX RIDGE VINEYARD WINES
TOTAL NUMBER OF ACRES: 2
ACRES SOURED: 2
POSITIONING: South sloping
SOIL TYPE: Deep loess with calcareous horizons
TRELLISING: Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP)
FARMED BY: Forgeron Cellars
YEAR PLANTED: 2011
Located in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, just a couple of miles south of Walla Walla proper,
our Estate Vineyard, Equinox Ridge is planted on an eastern facing slope on 2 acres of land.
The site is part of the 10+ acre Beebe Ranch which has a rich agricultural history which
eventually evolved to include vinifera.
As the story goes, the Beebe’s had long fantasized about having grapes on their land, which even a novice could tell was an ideal site for a vineyard, due to its elevation, soils types, eastern exposure and the area’s incredible reputation for growing world-class grapes. However, the Beebe’s had no experience with grape growing, and were at a loss at how to get started. They put the word out, and eventually a local vintner/dreamer, who for the sake if this story we will call ‘Bob’, fresh from graduating Walla Walla Community College’s Wine and Vineyard program heard about their interest, and in the fall of 2008 visited the Beebe Ranch to introduce himself and make his pitch. The proposal, which sounded a little too good to be true, suggested that the 2 acres could be planted for about of the $30,000/acre if they did the work themselves and by utilizing Bob’s connections in the industry which included access to free plant material. Further, Bob agreed to manage the vineyard and buy the fruit from the Beebe’s, allowing them to recoup their investment and eventually make a profit.
Bob went on to explain that he had enough Cabernet Franc vines in his greenhouse to plant the entire vineyard.
A noble varietal, Cabernet Franc has thrived in the Walla Walla Valley and is planted on some of the valley’s best sites. It enjoys a long growing season with moderate heat which Walla Walla has in abundance. This extended hangtime allows for additional flavor development and maturity and helps avoid some of the green pepper flavors that are often present in a Cabernet Franc wine.
The Beebe’s were all in! Not only was their dream about to come true, but they were also getting a great deal. The plan was for Bob to return in the Spring of 2009 to prepare the site and get the vines in the ground. The Beebe’s did their part purchasing material and spending much of the winter getting the land ready to be planted. So, then Spring of 2009 comes around. Calls to Bob go unreturned. August comes around and finally Bob reappears, promising to get the vines planted that Fall, the Beebe’s are psyched, only to have good ol’ Bob disappear again. This process quite literally repeats itself over, and over, and over again, until finally, in the Spring of 2011 the same baby-Cabernet Franc vines from Bob’s greenhouse in 2008 were planted. By the time Spring of 2012 arrived, Bob had gone MIA again.
The Beebe’s intent on realizing their dream, decided to forge ahead and engage a local vineyard management company to help the young vines come to age. The first grapes arrived in 2014 (two tons in total), and like most first crops, was average in quality and low in yield. Students from Walla Walla College assisted with pruning that year, then frost hit, pretty much destroying the 2015 vintage. Over the next few years, the grapes were used by some local Walla Walla wineries, including Bonsou and Sulei, and in fact almost came to Forgeron Cellars in 2016, but ended up going elsewhere.
Fast forward to 2018. After being brought in as Managing Partner at Forgeron Cellars, Jeremy Baker and his family relocated to the south-side of Walla Walla from Northern California. Jeremy’s former position included the acquisition and management of more than 250 acres of vineyards and he long held the conviction that is always preferable for a winery to work its own vineyards, which allows it to be in control of all facets of production and therefore absolute control of quality.
As it happens, the land backing up to the new Baker residence is the Beebe ranch. It didn’t take long for the Beebe’s and Jeremy to discuss the vineyard and ultimately its future. Frustrated with the costs and complexities of managing 2acres of vines, the Beebe’s asked in Forgeron Cellars might be interested in entering into a long-term Lease of the vineyard, ultimately taking over management of the site, including responsibility for all farming and operating costs. Forgeron’s Board of Directors quickly approved the project and by Fall of 2018, the took over the Vineyard, appropriately naming it Equinox Ridge.
Equinox: occurs when sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of approximately equal length
Since taking over at Equinox Ridge, Forgeron Cellars has utilized only sustainable practices and we have worked to improve vine health, irrigation and pruning techniques which making amendments to the soil to allow for better drainage and nutrition. We have also focused on canopy management and limited ‘set’ to only one or two clusters per vine. We are extremely pleased with the results and believe that the site is perfectly suited to Cabernet Franc. We average 1.5-2.0 tons per acre, with great concentration and excellent flavor from the very low juice to skin contact ratio, which provides the quality needed to produce a world-class wine. The long, warm days lend to an extended growing season while allowing for vast flavor development and maturation, avoiding any underripe or ‘green’ characteristics.
Our first release from Equinox Ridge is our 2019 Forgeron Cellars Cabernet Franc.
Our Estate vineyard of Cabernet Franc is located amongst the foothills of the Blue Mountains and provides the ideal site for this noble varietal. As our only Estate Vineyard, I spend the most amount of time here, and have truly come to appreciate its amazing terroir and natural beauty.
Cody Janett, Winemaker