People often ask about the French origins of Lenné. It was born from a chicken farm west of London, England, in the small village of Wolkingham. It was there that "Len the hen" raised a family including Steve's wife Karen who eventually made her way to Oregon. The chicken farm is long gone, replaced by upscale houses and Lenny gone with it, having died in 1999. Len helped put a down payment on Lenné and we'd like to think he is up there now, doing what he can to keep us going.
Our search for a great site to plant Pinot Noir started in 1999, and ended on a warm April day in 2000. We walked up a hill into an old pasture we learned about from some friends and it was immediately clear how warm the site was, what perfect orientation it had and how well drained the soils were. Steve knew the minute he climbed into that pasture, that this was an A+ site; it had the right elevation, orientation and soil type.
What Steve didn’t know was how difficult the site would be to farm. But it is true that great wines never come easy. 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 and produce very high quality fruit.
At Lenné we can vouch for the fact that this soil is about as bad as they come. It’s mostly Peavine 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 been here. 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. After a few rough years early on we started making wine out of the fruit and all that pain started to disappear. The site started to reveal why you grow Pinot Noir in difficult places; to produce delicious wines totally reflective of one specific place. For us and we hope for you, that place is Lenné.