Big Changes at St. Innocent

From yesterday’s email:

January 15, 2018
News Release from St. Innocent Winery

Mark Vlossak, founder and Winemaker of St. Innocent Winery, will celebrate his 30th year making award winning single vineyard designated Pinot noirs in Oregon. To help mark this milestone, there are some changes afoot at St. Innocent. We are "Returning to our Roots”!

St. Innocent Winery has purchased a 47.5 acre property in the South Salem hills at 10052 Enchanted Way SE, Jefferson, OR. We are immersed in designing and constructing a new winery. The production facility will have many of the features of our current facility: gravity reception and bottling, and underground barrel storage built into the hillside. Our Tasting Room will be expanded with more diverse experiences for our customers at an ideal location close to the I-5 corridor. Surrounded by two natural ravines and a two-acre grassy hillside looking at our own private pond (stocked with bass), we will offer a variety of tasting options, picnic lunches, and an opportunity to spend a relaxing afternoon surrounded by nature and vines. Our new Estate vineyard will initially have 15 acres of grape vines - about 60% Chardonnay (Dijon-clone) and remaining acres with Pinot noir 777 and Pommard.

We have sold our current Winery facility to our partners at Zenith Vineyard, LLC, Tim and Kari Ramey, as well as part of Membership interest in the LLC. Our new property is wholly owned by St. Innocent Winery.
Over the next 3 years Mark plans to decrease the amount of wine he makes from approximately 10,000 cases to our sweet spot of 6,500 cases. We will continue to make vineyard-designated Pinot noir from four of Oregon’s greatest terroirs: Freedom Hill, Temperance Hill, Momtazi, and Shea Vineyard. We will also produce Chardonnay and Pinot blanc from Freedom Hill as well as small lots of sparkling wine and Riesling for sale at our new Tasting Room. Our own vineyard, Enchanted Way Vineyard, will come into production in 2021.

Our new Tasting Room will open May 1, 2018. Until then we welcome our customers at our present location at 5657 Zena Road NW, Salem, OR 97304. Email us at or call 503-378-1526. Open Daily 11AM - 5PM.

Mark Vlossak, Winemaker

I’m trying to understand the motivation. They’re shrinking production and building an expanded tasting room closer to I-5. What do they gain? Was the old winery bigger than they needed?

Guess here. They were made an offer they couldn’t refuse for their share of the current operation. Took the money and label to a new location which they wholly own?

More info.


So what is this going to mean for the consumer?

New estate plantings, Riesling, no more Zenith or Justice.

I opened a bottle of '14 SI Zenith the other day. Very impressive. I love the Eola-Hills wines and have a few Biggio-Hamina and Vincent Zenith to carry me awhile. [wow.gif]

Not gonna lie, I’m really going to miss the St. I Justice bottling :frowning:

Looks like the new location will be just East of I-5 on the opposite side of Salem (25-30 minutes from the current location). Willamette Valley Vineyards has been just up the road from this site for quite some time. Convenient to I-5 but not close particularly close to any other wineries. For those that don’t recall, the original St. I location was in a business park on the Salem outskirts, so they’re certainly familiar with (and effectively grew a brand from) a more out of the way location.

Wonder why the Justice bottling not continuing, unless it’s part of the plan to get to a smaller production…or (pure speculation) I suppose the contract could be up and Bethel Heights is taking more of the fruit?

I’ve been a long-time purchaser (probably still have some mid to late 90’s bottles hanging around). Will be interesting to see the evolution as the new vineyard comes on line.

We are looking into building a new winery. Ours, for those who don’t know is, um, very functional and the original part is closing in on 35 years of age and was never really built to withstand what goes on here. That being said the financing of it certainly is not built on the back of a projection to reduce production. I sure wish it was. Maybe Mark has been really, really, really good with money over the years, maybe he won the lottery, maybe they did get some unusual buy out (winning the lottery seems more realistic to be honest), maybe he did help out that Nigerian prince in all those emails, maybe he is writing books under the pen-name Richard Bachman and so on.

I was hoping the change would be to make the White Rose Pinot again. Bummer on no more Justice which is their second best wine.

I don’t know any inside scoop, but I think Mark’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t need to make as much wine as he did. That plus having their own place on their own vineyard where they might focus on even more direct to consumer than they already likely do…that sounds lovely. I’m sure Vineyards they’re cutting out is about downsizing. You have to cut somewhere.

Sometimes losing a vineyard or cutting back production means that contracts and/or prices are changing. At least that one of the things I’ve learned to read between the lines in news like this.

The questions I have are if they are cutting back that much AND planting a new vineyard what does that mean concerning the production of the vineyard designates they will continue to bottle? Also, what are the prospects for the vineyard they will be planting?

Justice will be missed. So tasty in its youth. Maybe the 777 clone? I’ll grab some 04s and 05s from the locker to see how they did.

I wonder if the 7 Springs saga had any roll in this.


Mark was upset losing Seven Springs. He values an estate vineyard.

A little bit more info

So The South Salem Hills, not the Eola Hills is the location of the new vineyard. Vineyard expansion to the southern part of the valley. I am not that familiar with the present make up of vineyards and wineries in that area. It looks like established vineyards are being sold, freeing up money to explore other areas.

Had no idea Failla was making Oregon pinot. And a Seven Springs single vineyard no less. Will be sure to be on the lookout for that one.