Wine grapes (Vinifera, descended from European grapes) are the source for and base of most wines. The uniqueness of flavor, mouth feel, smoothness and impact is largely dependent upon the quality of the grapes used to produce an individual wine. Winery owners, Joe and Beverly Leadingham, desiring to produce quality wines with unique character, and wines not widely produced in Washington and Oregon, began their research on what to plant in their vineyards in order to accomplish this.
Special care needs to be taken to research and find the varietals whose growing characteristics match the latitude and weather patterns of your vineyard. Every vineyard is subject to the climatic conditions of its particular location and Stavalaura is no exception. Armed with advice from botanist, Tom Thornton, and in conjunction with Washington State University’s Viticulture program, three varietals were chosen for Stavalaura Vineyards based upon their uniqueness and growth characteristics. The chosen varietals were Pinot Noir (777 and Pommard clones), Zweigelt-Rebe and Golubok.
Although Pinot Noir is prevalent in Washington and Oregon, it was chosen because of its appeal to so many wine drinkers. Two Pinot Noir clones (777 and Pommard) were selected because of their success producing light, flavorful red wines. The initial problem with choosing this grape was that its ability to achieve full maturity at higher latitudes (similar to where Stavalaura is located) was low. To mitigate this issue, it was decided to plant vines grafted onto root stock 3309. The Pinot Noir vines were the first vines to be planted. After 5 years of vigorous growth, it was clear that grafted plants were indeed better suited to the climate and latitude of Stavalaura than the non-grafted options. With this evidence in hand, Zweigelt and Golubok vines were also grafted onto root stock 3309 and planted in 2009 and 2010.
Golubok, a southern Russian and northern European varietal grape, is unlike most red grapes in that the color pigment is not only located in the skins, but is very significant in the pulp also. This results in an unusually deep, rich color. Its unique flavor is unlike most red vinifera.
Zweigelt-Rebe, a more traditional northern European grape, is a dark-skinned red grape with a unique lighter flavor to its pulp. It has an aggressive vining tendency and requires more pruning than the Golubok.