Windhorse Vineyard (formerly Volcano Ridge Vineyard) near The Dalles, Oregon is a partnership started in the mid 2000s by well-known geologist, soil scientist and viticulturist, Dr. Alan Busacca, and Oregon Founder’s Award winning grape grower, Lonnie Wright. And in 2019, business entrepreneur Steve Bruere has replaced Lonnie as co-owner. Lonnie has more than 35 years of experience as a grape grower and vineyard manager, first with Ste. Michelle in their early days and now for many years managing a host of vineyards in the Columbia Gorge, including his own signature Pines Vineyard. In addition, he and his family also own The Pines 1852 Winery in Hood River. Alan spent many years uncovering secrets of the the diverse landscapes and soils of the Pacific Northwest while at Washington State University. But with a growing interest in joining the Northwest wine industry, Alan left WSU in 2006 for private consulting in land evaluation for vineyard development. Alan now devotes full time to helping others regionally, nationally, and internationally to find, evaluate, and develop special lands into wine grape vineyards and to Windhorse Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area (AVA).
Alan’s love of the land and landscapes have taken him around the world in search of beautiful lands on which to grow fine grapes and produce wines that uniquely express a sense of place, but Lonnie’s the guy who really knows how to grow great grapes. So working together, they found the land for the perfect vineyard and founded Volcano Ridge Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge AVA.
Lonnie's renown stems in part from his discovering and bringing back to life an abandoned vineyard of Zinfandel grapes outside of The Dalles that today are 120 years old. So of course, in 2008 Zinfandel grapes were the first variety to be planted at Volcano Ridge, propagated from Lonnie’s cuttings (think 'Daughter of Old Vines').
Then in 2010 they followed the Zinfandel with plantings of Merlot, Chardonnay, and warmer-site Pinot Noir that total 25 bearing acres today. Starting with the 2013 harvest and continuing to today, the vineyard is certified sustainable by the L.I.V.E. (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) program and also is certified as Salmon Safe®.
At the end of 2018, new partner Steve Bruere came on to replace Lonnie Wright as co-owner of Volcano Ridge (although Wright and foreman Alejandro Rojas will continue to manage the vineyard). And in early 2019, Volcano Ridge officially changed their name to Windhorse Vineyard.
In 2019 to 2021, we have big plans at Windhorse including a near doubling of vineyard acreage with several new grape varieties.
Terroir, a term originated in France, involves the complex interplay of climate, soil, geology, and culture that influences the character and quality of wine. Windhorse Vineyard is planted in new terroir for the Columbia Gorge AVA, and our sole objective is to grow wine grapes and produce wines that uniquely express a sense of this place.
Barrel-aged for 18 months, this Windhorse Vineyard, Columbia Gorge Zinfandel is bursting from the glass with marionberry, raspberry, and red black currants. It lingers with long-lasting notes of vanilla, pepper, and tobacco.
2017 offered a perfect growing season from bud break to harvest. This balanced, harmonious Zinfandel opens with brambleberry and coffee notes on the nose. On the palate it’s lively with ripe berries and a touch of herb leading to a long, sexy finish.
Truly Inspired by Terroir. ®
2018 had a burst of warmth in the spring, then mellowed into a perfect harvest. This plush Zinfandel carries raspberry, spice and peppercorn on the nose. In the mouth it’s delicious, loaded with ripe red fruit, coffee and the influence of new American oak that makes for a long and supple finish. Get the wine opener!
Truly Inspired by Terroir. ®
2019 offered even growing-season warmth before cooling into a perfect harvest. This Pinot Noir begins with a nose of earth and spices like star anise. In the mouth it offers flavors of dark cherries and dark chocolate, with beautifully integrated tannins from new French oak barrel aging.
Truly Inspired by Oregon Terroir. ®
This vineyard is on the eastern edge of the Columbia Gorge, making this is a unique take on Merlot, falling somewhere between the broad, fleshy Washington style, and the more herbal southern Oregon style. The layered flavors mix berry, citrus and red plum, in an open, easydrinking wine that should pair well with a variety of entrées.
Click here for a current list of wineries that use our grapes to make their wines. Keep in mind, the vineyard name was changed to Windhorse in 2019. Therefore, those wineries with wines that are vineyard designated will show the new vineyard name starting with the 2018 vintage.
Windhorse is the English translation of the Tibetan word “Lungta,” which is ‘the positive energy or life force that brings good fortune.’ The new name embodies our commitment to growing grapes for wonderful wines using socially and environmentally responsible farming methods to benefit the soil, land, plant and animal species, our vineyard workers, and the region.
Windhorse is also represented in the traditional Tibetan prayer flag with the windhorse in the center and with a snow lion, a tiger, a garuda, and a dragon in the four corners. Together it symbolizes the ‘five dignities’ of earth, air, fire, water, and space, out of which all phenomena are formed.
Windhorse Vineyard (the former Volcano Ridge Vineyard) at 1200’ is planted in soils eked out of ancient volcanic mudflows on steep canyon lands. Integral to the commitment to co-existing in the natural world, Windhorse Vineyard has only 25 acres of grapes on 160 acres of wild land dominated by oak-pine woodland and native grasses and wildflowers; land that will be protected from development.
The soils in the planted areas of the vineyard are ALFISOLS that developed under mixed oak-pine-grass woodland from weathered volcanic sandstone in a semi-arid climate. They are mapped as Cherryhill series soils.
Grape vines reach their full expressive potential on the steep canyon lands if Windhorse Vineyard, nourished by ample winter rains, and bathed by hot summer sun. The strong sun exposure from cloud-free summer days, the day length...
At Windhorse Vineyard our flagship grape is Zinfandel. Our Zin is the ‘daughter’ of Lonnie Wright’s Pines Old Vines Zinfandel, having been propagated by us from cuttings from those 120+ year old vines.
Windhorse Vineyard is located within the Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area (AVA) and is 5 miles southwest of The Dalles, Oregon and 85 miles east of Portland. Both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams can be seen from up on higher parts of the property. It is a beatiful property with stunning views. The vineyard is also located near Hood River, Oregon, a world famous area for kite boarding and wind surfing, as well as alpine and nordic skiing on Mt. Hood just 45 minutes away.
Windhorse Vineyard 2019
Windhorse Vineyard 2021