St. Innocent Winery

Willamette, Oregon, United States

St. Innocent began as an idea conceived in a moment of passion and inspiration in 1983. Mark Vlossak spent the next five years studying, taking classes, and apprenticing with Oregon wine pioneer, Fred Arterberry. In 1988, St. Innocent Winery was founded. Our goal is to produce wines that respect the quality and tradition of the Old World in one of the newest and most exciting wine growing regions on the planet: Oregon's Willamette Valley. 

Mark Vlossak is founder, president, and winemaker of St. Innocent Winery in Salem, Oregon. Mark's exposure to wine began at the age of seven when he began tasting wines daily with his father, a wine importer.  During his university training, he developed a love for Champagne. After reading an article in 1983 on American sparkling wine in Bon Appetit magazine, he was inspired to become a winemaker. Andre Tshelishev was quoted: "the greatest sparkling wine in America will be made in Oregon, not California, because it is the right place to grow Pinot noir and Chardonnay, the grapes of Champagne." During his training, he apprenticed with Fred Arterberry, Jr., the first Oregonian to make sparkling wine. Fred also produced the first vineyard-designated Pinot noirs in Oregon, something Mark would soon become famous for producing.

St. Innocent produces small lot, handmade wines: seven single vineyard Pinot noirs and a blended Pinot noir called the Villages Cuvee, two Chardonnay from Dijon clone plantings, two Pinot gris, and a Pinot blanc. 

The winery was built to help us make wine more naturally, using minimal technology. We fill the fermenters and bottle by gravity flow. Our barrels rest in an underground room with naturally controlled temperature and humidity. Mark believes that simplicity in this process allows the wine's personality to be fully expressed. The barrels are never moved during their aging, nor is any machinery allowed in the barrel cellar; all work is done by hand.

In the spring of 2006, St. Innocent purchased an interest in Zenith Vineyard (formerly O'Connor Vineyard) located in the Eola-Amity Hills. This 133 acre site has 81 acres planted: 4 acres of Pinot noir are currently in production for St. Innocent's use, 5 more are planted and will come into production in 2010, and an additional 7 acres planted in 2008.

The winery also works with 8 different growers, leasing specific blocks of vineyard to produce terroir-specific wines. Unique sites produce grapes that have a concentration of flavor reflective of the site-based terroir. Maintaining a close working relationship with its growers allows a collaborative fine-tuning of viticultural techniques in order to focus these flavors and aromas in the wines.

Mark Vlossak's dedication to understanding the various terrior in the Willamette Valley has enabled him to provide an expressive set of vineyard driven wines. Many of the vineyard sites are farmed through sustainable or biodynamic farming practices.

Top 100 Wineries for 2012 - Wine & Spirits Magazine