Cristom Vineyards

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Cristom Vineyards
Cristom Winery front view.jpg
LocationSalem, Oregon, United States of America
AppellationEola-Amity Hills AVA
First vintage1992
Key peopleTom Gerrie, winegrower & owner; Steve Doerner, winemaker
Known forPinot Noir
VarietalsPinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Syrah, Chardonnay

Cristom Vineyards is an Oregon wine producer and vineyard based near Salem, U.S. It is in the Eola-Amity Hills wine region within the Willamette Valley AVA, about 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of Keizer.


Paul Gerrie, an engineer based in Pittsburgh, was searching for suitable land in North and South America to open a winery. Trips to France to pursue his passion for wine had exposed him to the French concept of terroir and its importance in Burgundy.[1] He visited Oregon in 1991 for the International Pinot Noir Celebration and decided that it would be an ideal location.[2][3] Mike Etzel, the owner of Beaux Frères, also in the Willamette Valley, was hired as a consultant to look for an appropriate location.[4]

In 1992, Paul and Eileen Gerrie purchased the abandoned Pellier Winery site in the Spring Valley region of Polk County and established Cristom Vineyards.[5] The existing vineyards were in a state of disrepair and all but one of them needed to be replanted.[4][3] The first vintage was produced in 1992 from grapes purchased from other local vineyards. The vineyards were replanted from 1993 to 1996. with the first vintage from the estate owned vineyards bottled in 1994.[2]

Cristom's current winemaker is Steve Doerner, who joined the winery as head winemaker for its first vintage.[6] Doerner graduated in 1978 from the University of California, Davis with a degree in biochemistry and had spent 14 years at the Californian Calera Wine Company, specializing in working with Pinot noir, as well as studying under Jacques Seysses, owner and winemaker at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy before being appointed winemaker at Cristom in 1992.[1][3][4] Doerner was the first established winemaker from the California wine industry to move to Oregon, and has been followed by many others since.[2] After having established himself as winemaker at Cristom, Doerner was made a partner in the business.[2][4]

The estate is named after Paul and Eileen Gerrie's children, being a portmanteau of Christine and Tom.[2][4]


Vineyards at Cristom

Cristom has eight estate owned vineyards, with an area of 58.4 acres (23.6 ha).[7] Six of the vineyards are named after family matriarchs.[8][9]

Marjorie is the only vineyard that was not replanted in the years following the purchase of the winery. It is named after Paul Gerrie's mother. The vines were originally planted in 1982, and there are 8.5 acres (3.4 ha) of Pinot noir. The initial single vineyard wine from this location was from the 1994 vintage.[10][3][8]

Louise is named after Paul Gerrie's maternal grandmother and was the first vineyard to finish being replanted with 9 acres (3.6 ha) of Pinot noir. The first single vineyard wine was the 1996 vintage.[10][3][8]

Jessie is named for Paul Gerrie's paternal grandmother and was planted with 11.5 acres (4.7 ha) of Pinot noir in 1994. The first release was the 1998 vintage.[10][3][8]

Eileen, is named after Paul Gerrie's wife, the co-founder and co-owner of the estate. This is the highest elevation Cristom vineyard which slopes from 550 to 700 feet (170 to 210 m). 16.6 acres (6.7 ha) of Pinot noir were planted in 1997 in this vineyard. The first vintage released was in 2000.[10][3][8]

Emilia, is named after Eileen Gerrie's mother. This is the lowest elevation Cristom vineyard at 200 to 250 feet (61 to 76 m), and it surrounds the winery and cellar door. This vineyard consists of 5.1 acres (2.1 ha) of Pinot gris planted between 1993 and 1996.[3][8]

Cristom is one of the few Willamette Valley producers growing Syrah.

Germaine is named after the winemaker, Steve Doerner's, maternal grandmother. It was planted in 1993 with 0.5 acres (0.20 ha) of Dijon clone 75Chardonnay vines.[3][8] Two other vineyards are planted at the estate with Northern Rhone varieties that are unusual for the Willamette Valley region which is primarily known for Pinot noir. These are a 2.25 acres (0.91 ha) Viognier vineyard planted in 1993 and a 1.25 acres (0.51 ha) Syrah vineyard planted in 2002.[3][8] Cristom is described as a pioneer of these varieties in this region.[7][11]


Pinot noir grapes at Cristom Vineyard

Cristom is best known for its Pinot noir based wines. Four single vineyard wines are produced with Pinot noir grapes from the vineyards Marjorie, Louise, Jessie and Eileen.[4][12]

Cristom also produces two Pinot noir blends, the Mount Jefferson Cuvee named after a mountain visible from the winery, and a Reserve wine named Sommers since the 2004 vintage. These two blends have been produced every vintage since 1992.[10] The Mount Jefferson Cuvee is a blend from ten different vineyards, with the best barrels of the blend being separated to be bottled as the Sommers Reserve wine. Around 3,500 cases of the Mount Jefferson and 1,250 cases of the "Sommers" Reserve are produced each year.[2]

In addition to Pinot noir, Cristom also produces a Syrah based red wine from the estate vineyard.[4]

White wines are produced from three varieties: a single vineyard Chardonnay from the estate Germaine vineyard as well as Pinot gris and Viognier.[4]

Around 10,000 cases of wine are produced each vintage,[5] with about 1,500 of that total being white wines.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Cristom Vineyards Profile". Prince of Pinot. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lukacs, Paul (2005). The Great Wines of America: The Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages. W. W. Norton. pp. 103–111. ISBN 978-0-393-05138-4.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Cristom Vineyards". WineGeeks. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Cristom Vineyards". Avalon Wine. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  5. ^ a b "Wineries". IPNC. Archived from the original on 2011-01-04. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  6. ^ Passmore, Nick (2009-11-12). "Cristom's Lovely, Low-Key Oregon Pinot noirs". Business Week. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  7. ^ a b Danehower, Cole (2010). Essential Wines and Wineries of the Pacific Northwest: A Guide to the Wine Countries of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and Idaho. Timber Press. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-88192-966-9.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Vineyards". 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  9. ^ "Cristom". 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  10. ^ a b c d e Winthrop Haeger, John (2008). Pacific Pinot noir: A Comprehensive Winery Guide for Consumers and Connoisseurs. University of California Press. pp. 102–104. ISBN 978-0-520-25317-9.
  11. ^ Jon Bonné (2010-10-12). "When Syrah met Pinot: One's Feisty, the other's finicky - but they're finding common ground". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  12. ^ Nick Passmore. "Awesome Cristom". Forbes. Retrieved 2011-01-18.

Coordinates: 45°02′05″N 123°07′14″W / 45.034775°N 123.120539°W / 45.034775; -123.120539