For Donna Morris and Bill Sweat, the owners of Oregon’s Winderlea Vineyard & Winery, it all started with their first date at a little wine shop in the North End of Boston. Fast forward 20 plus years and wine had become such a big part of their lives that they decided to trade in their corporate jobs for that of vineyard and winery owners.
Their decision to head to Oregon was simple. They had been enticed by the wines of Burgundy for years and found their favorite American Pinot Noirs were coming from Oregon. After some study of their wine cellar, they realized many of the Oregon Pinot Noirs they favored came from the Dundee Hills, an area famous for volcanic red-clay soils known as Jory. Their holy grail was to find old vine vineyards to establish the foundation for Winderlea wines. They happened to be in the right place at the right time when the famed Goldschmidt Vineyard came up for sale. They have coupled their jewel of a vineyard with renowned winemaker and viticulturalist Robert Brittan, who has 30 years of experience in some of Napa’s finest wineries.
In 2008, Winderlea Vineyard earned LIVE and Salmon Safe certifications. Since then, organic farming methods as well as Biodynamic practices have been adapted. The winery is one of a select group in Oregon to complete phase two of the state’s carbon-reduction challenge. The environmentally friendly tasting room employs many passive energy management techniques. Solar hot water and solar panels produce about half its energy needs. There is even an electric car charger in their parking lot. Sustainability is practiced in their business too. In fact, tasting room fees go to ¡Salud!, an organization that provides access to healthcare services to Oregon’s vineyard workers and their families.
Donna and Bill’s commitment to stewardship is everywhere—in their business practices, the tasting room, the vineyard, and the wines they produce.