"Who could have imagined?"...as we slowly climbed the rough gravel road to the enchanted clearing on top of Ribbon Ridge, Mike Etzel seemed wistful and grateful as he pondered his question.
As Etzel continued, all he wanted back in 1986 when he started a winery and planted a vineyard was to make a living, maybe have a little something for his kids some day. And really, who on earth could have imagined, nearly 40 years later, that Mike would be without exaggeration one of the most famous wine growers in the world?
If the Etzel name and Ribbon Ridge sound familiar it's because Mike planted and founded the most famous winery on Ribbon Ridge and arguably (we'll argue, at least) in Oregon: Beaux Freres. The road we climbed arrived at Beaux Freres' Upper Terrace Vineyard and then, on a perch slightly higher, what follows—Sequitur Vineyard. For someone who has already established a monumental legacy, the significance of the name Sequitur is particularly meaningful. This is what follows, the continuation of a lifetime's pursuit of Pinot noir perfection, new land shared with new love.
Sequitur is protected on three sides by tall Douglas fir trees (and by the mighty Upper Terrace on one side), a mere 12 acres yet with an astounding clonal mix of Pinot noir (17 clones!) and a tiny exposed knoll of Chardonnay. Mike and his son Mikey (now winemaker at Beaux Freres) share in winemaking and in the superb 2021 vintage, they created two distinct Pinot noirs—one aged in French oak barrels and one that sees no oak, aged instead in Italian clay amphora—and a fantastic, micro-amount of Chardonnay.
Mike and his partner and wife, Carey Critchlow, created a breathtaking landscape in Sequitur and now, in the brand new Etzel Farm, which includes the Sequitur tasting room. Among a handful of the most wonderful places to taste wine in the entire Willamette Valley; its rustic elegance makes it a must for your next wine touring trip. While we can't quite deliver the ambience and the comforting heat of the wood stove, we can and will deliver a Sequitur tasting experience right to your doorstep—two or more, in fact! We assembled two Sequitur tasting packs: the 2021 "Sundog" 3-pack featuring all three Sequitur 2021s, and 6-vintage vertical of Sequitur Pinot beginning with 2015. If you've followed Beaux Freres wines, we know you'll love what follows in Sequitur. If you simply prize exceptional Willamette Valley wine, these should be a part of your collection.
From Michael Etzel and Carey Critchlow: Our journey began with the purchase of a 60-acre Douglas fir tree farm in December 2010 from a retired school teacher and meticulous man of principle, Frank Drummer. After finally convincing Frank that we were worthy stewards of his beloved timber stand, we began our master plan.
We built a small house on a pond in the middle of the woods, and on the ridge above our home we planted a 12-acre pinot noir vineyard directly adjacent to Beaux Freres’s Upper Terrace. Half of the vineyard, called the Lavender Block (after the beautiful lavender planted at the end of each row) was planted in spring of 2012. The other half was planted in 2013: the Rosemary Block. We also planted chardonnay on a small knoll in the Rosemary Block.
What distinguishes this vineyard, in addition to the 17 diverse clones of pinot noir planted very densely, is the forest of Douglas fir that encloses it on three sides. The forest protects this gentle south slope from wind and weather and preserves the vineyard's unique terroir. The virgin marine sediment soils have only been farmed with organic and biodynamic principles — helping to preserve the native ground cover and promote healthy integration of all living organisms. Carey's honey bees are thriving in the vineyard, we think for good reason.
Our Sequitur wine is currently made at the Beaux Freres winery, where Michael continues on in his role as one of the owners. Mikey (Michael’s middle son) is Sequitur’s winemaker (as well as the winemaker for Beaux Freres). Sequitur also shares a farming crew and a harvest crew with Beaux Freres. Our current production is 500 cases of pinot noir and 50 cases of chardonnay, plus or minus a few depending on the vintage. We also make a small amount of “amphora” pinot noir -- this wine never touches oak and is instead fermented and aged in an Italian clay amphora.
Sequitur means “it follows” and the meaning is intended to be twofold: the vineyard project is what follows in terms of our personal and professional passages; the wine made from our vineyard each year is what follows from the influence of each particular element of the growing season. You will notice that each year the front and back labels change a bit — a visual reminder of the inevitable variations in each vintage.
We are in the midst of an exciting new project that includes building a tasting room for Sequitur. But for the time being, you are welcome to taste and purchase our wines at the Beaux Freres tasting room. It’s all in the family.