Continuing from Part 1 of Laurel Ridge History, David purchased Finn Hill in 1974 eager to pursue his dream of running his own vineyard. Despite David’s passion being with wine, grapes, and Pinot Noir, he never desired to run his own winery. His heart was with the farm, and his passion was centered on cultivating an exquisite vineyard. He loved wine but his philosophy was rooted in the belief that great wine came from even better grapes, and that’s what he wanted to focus on.
He planted his first acres of grapes between 1980-1981. Just as David scoured the Willamette Valley for years searching for the perfect vineyard site, he spent months researching grape vines and varieties, looking for the perfect vines to plant on the Finn Hill Estate. The vines he selected were own-rooted meaning they weren’t grafted on rootstock like many grapes are. Side note: similar to apples or oranges, majority of grape vineyards planted in the United States are selectively bred and grafted in order to be resistant to pests and diseases specific to American soil types. Fun, huh?
When David Teppola planted his vineyard in the Willamette Valley (what would later end up being in the heart of the Yamhill Carlton AVA) it was still early enough that vineyards weren’t suffering from diseases and pests, indicating that the grapes could be own-rooted. Unfortunately, this resulted in the death of vineyards across Oregon as the root louse, phylloxera traveled north from California, killing hundreds of acres of vineyard across the state in the mid 1990s. David had cultivated his vines for nearly fifteen years before he lost his vineyard; a vineyard that had produced award winning Pinot Noirs, and even produced Oregon’s first vintage of Sparkling Wine.
David persevered, managing Laurel Ridge while supporting local vineyards around Oregon and Southern Washington, continuing to produce wines until his passing in 2006. His wife, Susan, took over the day-to-day operations at Laurel Ridge and was finally able to realize David’s dream of replanting the Finn Hill Estate Vineyard in 2015. Connection to the land and the vineyard truly is the foundation of the Laurel Ridge philosophy and is what makes Laurel Ridge Winery Oregon grown and owned since 1986.