Homework. Describe Brandborg tradition in a single sentence. That would be: “Brandborg Vineyard & Winery grows and produces distinct, elegant Pinot noir and Alsace inspired white wines with pure varietal expression”. Over 20 years ago, Terry and Sue Brandborg began their search for a cool, coastal climate terroir that would produce harmonious, distinct wines. Their journey of discovery led them to Elkton (pop. 170), in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. With passion and a steadfast belief in the quality of their chosen site, they planted in 2002 the first 5 acres of Pinot Noir, only the beginning of an eventual 50 acres of vines (20 hectares). Their spectacular property rises to 1100 feet with a direct sightline to the Umpqua River and the Oregon coast range.
The Brandborgs have built a functional winery with a beautiful spacious tasting room in charming Eltkon. Both are self-taught in winemaking and grape growing and after many vintages remain committed to continued learning and growth. A stubborn focus on detail and an uncompromising, do it yourself, hands on approach has resulted in harmonious wines made for the table, praised by customers and critics alike. At the moment the couple’s yearly production is between 100.000 and 120.000 according to the vintages.
This is a unique winegrowing region in Oregon’s south-central coast range foothills.
The Umpqua Valley has 3000 planted acres, with pinot noir the most planted variety. Lying within the Umpqua Valley is the Elkton Oregon AVA (American viticultural area), which was officially designated in 2013 as a means to differentiate this area from the much warmer microclimates characteristic of most of southern Oregon. Elkton lies just 36 miles inland from the Pacific. There is a very long frost free growing season, with cool temperate conditions lasting until late fall. The average July and August high temperatures are only 83F. This all results in grapes that can hang on the vine longer, developing truly complex flavors.
Quoting Terry: “The Umpqua Valley saw huge growth from 2002 to 2007 when Sue and I moved here,” he said. “We were the eighth winery, and now we’ve gotten up to 24. We came to Elkton because we saw an opportunity,” Terry said. “At the time I working in California I was first invited to attend the Steamboat Conference in 1994, and I really liked the vibe of the Oregon wine industry, and when we found out that Elkton was growing what we were seeking, it was an easy transition.”. Few years later the couple moved from California to Elkton where the Brandborgs’ award-winning wines are mainly grown in and around this town, located less than 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
The soils of the Umpqua Valley are an amazing amalgam of different types of rock and minerals from three very distinct mountain ranges. The Coast Range is created by the Pacific Plate being sliced off as it dives under the westward advancing North American Plate. To the south, the Klamath and Siskiyou Ranges are composed of some of the most ancient rock in Oregon: Pacific volcanoes that have docked on the North American continent, along with uplifts of volcanic rock from closer to the source. The Eastern Range is the Cascades, a volcanic formation that is much younger.
Umpqua’s drainage is wholly within Douglas County and headwaters form in each of these ranges. All of the minerals, washed into the Pacific through the various river drainages, contribute to this wild diversity of marine sediment. Umpqua’s variety of soils has been called the most diverse and complex array of soil types found anywhere on the planet in a single river drainage.