Firethorn Vineyard was originally developed between 2006 and 2008. Our family purchased the property in 2010, determined to leave behind the world of commercial construction in the Seattle area and dedicate our time and energies to the building of a family wine estate. We rolled up our sleeves and went to work, wishing to experience first-hand all farming aspects of our wine-growing venture.
THE GRAPES OF FIRETHORN
Clone ENTAV 15 & 338
1 Acre Each
THE SOILS OF FIRETHORN
Between fifteen and thirteen thousand years ago, the site of Firethorn Vineyard and much of the Umatilla Basin were swept by catastrophic floods that resulted from repeated failures of an ice-age glacier that dammed the Clark Fork River near the present site of Lake Pend Oreille. Rushing down the channel of the Columbia River, the floods were constricted as they entered the steep-walled Columbia River Gorge near Arlington. The narrowed channel temporarily dammed the floodwaters, which then inundated the Umatilla Basin. As the impounded water spread out, it slowed and suspended sediment was deposited throughout the basin at elevations below 1100 feet. The silt, sand and gravel deposited by the floods are composed mostly of minerals derived from basalt, granite and quartzite, which are the most common types of bedrock in northern Idaho and northeastern Washington, the region from which the floods were sourced. Soils have been classified within the Shano series which are well drained soils formed in loess…over sediment deposited by ice-age floods that forms the deeper levels of the soil profile. The relationship between soil types and parent material is shown below. - Kevin Pogue
We committed from the outset to an intimate, hands-on understanding of the 60 vineyard acres by farming it ourselves. Within the first two years it became clear what was going to be required to produce the highest quality fruit and wine for Echo Ridge Cellars, our estate winery, and for a select group of clients that purchase our wine grapes. We engaged Kevin Pogue to better understand the geology of our site and the ultra-talented Billo Naravane, MW consults with us on vineyard practices. In 2015 we invested in improved infrastructure, as well as better suited grape varieties in a couple of blocks, in support of our winegrowing practices and higher fruit quality aspirations. Firethorn Vineyard is our primary focus and we are commited to farming practices and grape varieties that best express this unique site.
Sustainable / Lutte Raisonnee
We strive to minimize the chemical inputs (Sulfur, Copper Sprays, Stylet oil, etc.) and still get disease free, optimally ripened fruit.
All vines at Firethorn Vineyard are Bilateral Cordon pruned with vertical shoot positioning (VSP) on 5 ft x 9 ft spacing. Due to the moderate vigor of the soil, this spacing allows for optimal ratio of canopy to fruit. We initially leave two 2-bud spurs per linear foot of canopy, and then thin in several subsequent passes based on the prevailing weather conditions of the current year.
We prune at the beginning of the growing season with consideration for canopy density, fruit spacing and desired size of the crop.
SHOOT SELECTION AND SHOOT POSITIONING
Weak shoots are thinned in late June/early July. The shoots are vertically positioned in June and adjusted manually as needed in July and August. The canopy is thinned via several passes and fruit is dropped to 1 cluster per shoot. We leave slightly higher canopy density on the afternoon sun side to prevent sunburning of fruit. Leaves are thinned in the cluster zone to provide dappled sunlight in the fruiting zone.
The vines are kept in medium state of water stress throughout most of the season. This allows for better root penetration and distribution throughout the soil profile. This ultimately adds to the flavor complexity and phenolic maturation.
Sustainability has become increasingly important over the past 10 years and more winery clients and wine consumers want to see proof of that sustainability. Firethorn Vineyard is certified Salmon Safe by LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), a program founded in Oregon in 1997 and the first in the U.S. to be endorsed by IOBC, the International Organization for Biological and Integrated Control of Noxious Animals and Plants.
Jay leads vineyard operations. He brings years of construction experience into the vineyard doing the tough work himself in a steady stream of progressive steps, working vine to vine, block to block to maximize each grape variety’s potential. This level of commitment, care and passion offers distinct benefits for our producer clients. Jay is assisted in the rows by Lauriano Garcia and Billo Naravane, viticulturist/master winemaker.
BILLO NARAVANE, MW
Winemaker and Viticulturist
Prior to finding his true calling as a Winemaker, Billo misspent several years working in various technical and managerial positions in the Computer Industry. Billo received his BS in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from MIT and his MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. Before transitioning into the wine industry Billo obtained an MS in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. After spending 15 years in the high tech industry, Billo turned his interest to wine, and in 2005 he applied to UC Davis master’s program for viticulture and enology.
Jay Bales oversees operations related to the vineyard. He spends part of every week at the vineyard helping out wherever he is needed. You can find him either on his tractor helping work the land or working closely with Lauriano to ensure the fruit yields are exactly what they need to produce quality wines.
Administration and Operations
Kim Bales works alongside Jay in the vineyard and also handles the business aspects for Firethorn. Splitting her time between the vineyard and the family winery, Echo Ridge Cellars, keeps her very busy. If you need information about the vineyard, she is the one to contact.