' About Lenné - Lenne Estate

About Lenné

    After twenty-two years of operation, the Lenné Estate vineyard was sold in 2022.  See the press release or this article in The Oregonian.  Our vineyard location is now permanently closed.

    The Lenné brand will continue for the next several years as we sell off the back catalog plus the exceptional 2021 and 2022 vintages. Starting in January of 2023, Lenné wines can be tasted and purchased exclusively at Distaff Wine Co. in Newburg, formerly the location of Owen Row winery.

    The Lenne vineyard and tasting room will be closed in early 2023 for a major renovation and expansion.  Long time Lenné Estate Hospitality Manager Eric Bruce is staying on with the new company, and will be the General Manager of the new brand and tasting room. Eric looks forward to welcoming visitors to the new brand starting in Summer 2023.

    A personal note from Steve and Karen

    In April of 2000 we bought a bare hill near Yamhill, Oregon, with the hope and dream of planting a vineyard and making wine. Twenty-two years later we looked around and felt good about what we had accomplished, while realizing that retirement was looming. We have made the difficult decision to sell the property but we will be holding onto the Lenné brand and will continue sales of our remaining inventory.

    The vineyard tasting room will cease operations at the end of the day on Saturday, December 24, 2022. We hope to see you before then at the vineyard or afterwards at our new location, the Distaff Wine Company tasting room in Newberg. More information will be forthcoming about our upcoming schedule but save the date, December 17th, for our first event at the Distaff location.

    We are pleased to announce that Lenne Wines will be available for the next several years at the Distaff location. Distaff was created by David O’Reilly’s wife, Angelica and their daughters. Many of you know David as the former owner of Owen Roe and my longtime mentor. If you like the style of our fruit driven wines, you can thank David for his early mentorship of our winemaking. Rumor has it he is starting another high-end brand that I am sure you will all be exposed to along with our wines in the Newberg location in the next couple of years.

    What a vintage to go out on: 2021. Along with the 2016 and 2019 vintages, the 2021 vintage is one of our favorites in the last ten years. We will continue to own the brand and our wine club will continue as well, releasing our great wines for shipping or pickup. We'll hold some pickup events at Distaff, others at pop up locations in Portland.

    We have been contemplating the sale for some time and stockpiling some library wines. In addition to the 2021 and a small amount of wine from the 2022 vintage we have plenty of wines from the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 vintages, plus library wines from 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 vintages; all of those wines will be available to our club members going forward. When it is all gone it is truly all gone and we will ride off into the sunset.

    The History of the Vineyard and Brand

    People often ask about the origins of Lenné Estate. The name and face of on the logo look French, but the gentlemen is actually English.

    Mr. Leonard Hole, aka "Lenny" aka "Len the Hen" was the father of Karen Lutz, who with her husband Steve, founded Lenne Estate in 2000. Steve is the proprietor, and has been the winemaker since our first vintage in 2004. Karen's father Lenny was a bit of a country squire, living on a chicken farm near the small village of Wokingham, England, located some 25 miles west of London. Lenny passed away in 1999, but left his three daughters a bit of inheritance, and Karen's share was turned into the down payment on the property that became our vineyard.  Sadly, Lenny never got to visit the vineyard named after him, but we like to think he is up there now, happily watching over our vineyard and winery. 

    Our search for a great site to plant Pinot Noir began in 1999, and ended on a warm April day in 2000. After years in Napa, Steve had been back in Oregon since 1997, managing another winery in the area. He wanted to strike out on his own, but he knew he needed just the right site. He found it in in the Spring of 2000, walking up a steep slope into an old cow pasture. The site was not yet for sale; Steve had heard about it from some friends; and he immediately saw this site had the four criteria required to create an ideal Willamette Valley pinot noir vineyard: 1) orientation, 2) elevation, 3) rocky soil, and 4) a steep slope for good drainage. Steve arrange to buy the 21 acre hillside that very day, paying more than he'd planned, but knowing this A+ site was worth every penny.

    Lenny with his daughter Karen.
    What Steve didn’t know was how difficult the site would be to farm. There are many gray areas in wine, but if there is one truth, it is that great wines come from poor soils. Vines are built for reproducing themselves and poor soils control vigor, which means less fruit, of a very high quality.

    At Lenné we can vouch for the fact that this soil is about as bad as they come. It’s marine sedimentary soil, mostly the uncommon "peavine" type, and when you dig into it you wonder how anything grows. We have had our share of disasters and lost thousands of plants over the years. We have paid a price for our determination (or stupidity) not to irrigate, and we have made our share of mistakes and felt them sting.

    The first few years were very rough, but as soon as we tasted the early wines, the pain began to disappear. The first Lenné vintages immediately revealed why it is essential to source pinot noir from such difficult growing locations. The struggling and suffering are required, are essential to create delicious, dense, complex wines that are totally reflective of their terroir, of the one specific place from which they originate.

    For us, and we hope for you, that place is Lenné Estate.

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