Winemaker Alban Debeaulieu Helms New Project in Oregon’s Willamette Valley
Portland, Ore. (April 16, 2019) — South Africa’s Beck Family Estates has established Abbott Claim with the construction of a new winemaking facility in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Lying at the base of the Abbott Claim vineyard, the new winery site in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA borders two vineyards already farmed by Antony Beck, and reunites the majority of the original land claim by John F. Abbott. Winemaker Alban Debeaulieu, an alum of Domaine Drouhin, White Rose, and 00 Wines, is leading the winery project slated for completion in May 2020.
Building on the legacy of his father Graham Beck, Antony Beck’s commitment to sustainability and longevity is manifested with this new project in the Willamette Valley. As a steward of the land in both Oregon and South Africa, where the Beck family maintains around 3,000 hectares of wildlife preserve, Abbott Claim plays a vital role in Beck’s long-term plan in Oregon: establishing vineyards and sustainable winery operations for generations to come.
Abbott Claim pays homage to the site’s first homesteader, John F. Abbott, a coachman from upstate New York who moved to Oregon in 1855. In 2005 and 2012, Beck purchased two vineyards planted on the site by winemaker Ken Wright. Since then, Beck has sourced premium Pinot noir for two single-vineyard wines and sells fruit to neighboring wineries, including Beaux Frères and Cristom. With the most recent vineyard purchase in 2017, Abbott Claim totals 60 acres under vine.
“This is a special vineyard with a track record of producing high-quality wine. We were so excited to learn about this site’s history and are grateful for the opportunity to build on its heritage, ” said Beck. “When I met Alban, I knew he was the winemaker to bring this vision to life.”
After a harvest at Maison Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy, Véronique Drouhin invited Alban Debeaulieu to Oregon for the 2013 harvest at their eponymous Willamette Valley winery. In early 2014, he joined the team at White Rose Estate, working alongside winemaker Jesus Guillén for two vintages. Debeaulieu was then recruited as winemaker for Chapter 24 and 00 Wines, where he also made the first wines for Mark Tarlov’s Alit. In 2017, Beck offered Debeaulieu the winemaker position at his Willamette Valley winery Angela Estate, and the lead on the Abbott Claim project.
“Antony’s passion and values were very much aligned with mine,” said Debeaulieu. “The Becks take the time to do things right and put a lot of thought into everything they do, always planning for the future,” he continued.
Debeaulieu and Beck collaborated on the design of the Abbott Claim winery currently under construction. The new winery sits on two barrel rooms dug underground for efficient humidity and cooling, while the building’s angled and corten steel panels will provide natural light throughout the seasons. The winery, built for a 10,000-case production, will house American stainless steel tanks, Italian concrete vessels, and French oak fermenters.
Debeaulieu made Abbott Claim’s first wines in 2017, a Pinot noir from their organic estate vineyard and a Chardonnay from four growers farming sustainably. His intentionally light touch in the winery — all native fermentations, natural malolactic fermentation, minute sulfur additions, slow and quiet aging — is directed towards not only making wines of high quality, but also wines of place. “Special wines are those that express something that is authentic and genuine,” said Debeaulieu. “This is what we have here at Abbott Claim.”
A complete website, with frequent updates on the winery’s progress, will launch in the coming months.