Shea Vineyard was first planted to wine grapes in the late 1980s. Today Shea Vineyard is a 200-acre property with 140 planted acres. 135 of these acres are planted to Pinot noir vines and the balance is planted to Chardonnay.
Roughly 25% of the Pinot noir fruit produced each year by Shea Vineyard is used by Shea Wine Cellars for its releases. The other 75% of the Pinot noir fruit is sold to some of the finest winemakers in Oregon and California.
Shea vineyard sits on sedimentary soil over fractured sandstone. Vine spacing is 5×7 yielding 1,245 plants per acre. Shea was one of the early vineyards in this area of Yamhill County and on this soil type. Today, the vineyard is surrounded by some of the premiere wineries making Pinot noir in the “New World.”
We are pleased that we have recently been recognized for our efforts. Recently the US Department of Agriculture created the Conservation Security Program to recognize and support outstanding stewardship of agricultural lands. CSP identifies those “farmers and ranchers who are meeting the highest standards of conservation and environmental management”. In our Yamhill River basin over 500 farms pursued the program. 104 were accepted based on past and current practices. 32 of those were recognized as having practices at the highest level of stewardship. Shea Vineyard was one of the 32.
Our approach to growing wine grapes that express their terroir and our approach to being responsible stewards of the land are rooted in science. We use the results of scientific analysis as our guiding light. We have not concluded that all synthetic materials are by definition harmful. In this outlook we are joined by the USDA and sustainable farming organizations such as LIVE and Salmon Safe. This is in contrast to some well publicized approaches to growing that seem to us to be rooted in romanticism and nostalgia for farming in an earlier era.
Farm Workers Make It Happen
We employ 10 workers on our year round vineyard crew under the supervision of vineyard manager Jesus Marin. Their skill developed over years in our vineyard is a large reason our fruit is so highly regarded. All are covered by health insurance and so are their families. Our seasonal worker staff often gets us up to 35-40 workers during the height of the growing season. Our record at seasons end is 150 workers harvesting our grapes. It can get frantic when we are rushing to bring in the fruit before the onset of rain. We are quite proud that since we put the first plants in the ground in 1989 we have not experienced a single injury.