In the late 1990s, Ron Lachini and his wife moved from Northern California to Oregon's Willamette Valley to start Lachini Vineyards. The winery's first vintage was released in 2001.
Lachini's wines are true expressions of Oregon, emphasizing all that makes that growing area unique.
"I'm a 'converted' believer in the geography story," Lachini says. "The Willamette Valley is blessed with a short growing season, yet with longer days for ripening and cooler nights [than other growing areas in the U.S.]."
Oregon's terroir, or sense of place, is unique. "Ten million years ago, the Missoula floods deposited multiple layers of soil," Lachini explains. "In our vineyards, there are basalt, limestone, and volcanic soils." The characteristics of the soil, says Lachini, reveal themselves even in wines made from vine clones.
That's right: clones. Winemakers have a toolbox full of different selections of the same grape. In Lachini's case, it's the Pinot Noir. Some clones, such as the Pommard Pinot Noir, behave better than others in Oregon's climate and soil. "The results are wines that offer natural acidity, expressive aromas, and more complexity than warmer-climate Pinot Noirs," Lachini says.
Lachini produces three distinct Pinot Noirs and one Pinot Gris, all from estate-owned fruit. The "S" Vineyard Pinot Noir is typically the most accessible and masculine of the Lachini wines. The Ana Vineyard is an elegant, silky, and sensual expression of Pinot Noir that emphasizes textures like no other. It is basically pornography for the palate. The last of the Pinot Noirs is the Lachini Family Estate, a wine that straddles the gap between elegance and masculinity. It is expressive in an aromatic sense like no other Pinot, emphasizing a wild, almost primal quality with wave upon wave of textures and flavors that glide along the palate. The Pinot Gris expresses rich fruit, a round texture, and a vibrant acidity that lights up the tongue.
Lachini's vineyards are farmed using biodynamics, a practice that guards and elevates the health of the vineyard ecosystem.
"We have to be stewards of our land for generations to come," he says. "We can't continue to take from the land and vines every year. We must also give back. We prefer to be minimalists while doing our part to enhance [not only protect] the ecosystem around us. I think consumers are very eco-conscious these days and are willing to learn."
All this would be futile if it didn't produce such astonishing wines. Lachini firmly believes that wine is made in the vineyard, another reason behind his biodynamic farming principles. This, however, does not mean that the ecosystem has the only say.
"I hate to sound like a control freak, but the reality is that the more control we have, the more likely we can hit the best mark we're capable of at that given period of time," Lachini says.
"Of course, it's dependent on when Mother Nature affords us the opportunity. We hope that in our lifetime, our wines will be recognized among the greatest Pinots the world has to offer," he continues. "Yet the reality is that time may not come, and it may not be with the present site we've developed. The modern wine industry in Oregon is only 40 years old. I believe there's even more greatness to be unveiled in the future."
For Lachini, making wine is an on-going process. "I find it a fascinating study of art, sociology, and science," he says. "I marvel at how I continue to learn so much and love the fact that wine brings people together."