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Trisaetum Winery & Vineyards

Willamette Valley AVA

Willamette Valley winemaker, James Frey is a critically acclaimed

Located in the heart of the Ribbon Ridge AVA in Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley, Trisaetum Winery and Vineyards is a blossoming new winery focused on small lots of site-driven Pinot Noirs and Rieslings. The winery was founded in 2007 by Orange County, California transplants, James and Andrea Frey, who followed their passion for wine and love of the Pacific Northwest to Oregon’s rural winegrowing country. Here, they built a life they had long dreamed of, and today, enjoy the fruits of their labor with three generations working side by side.

James’ interest in wine came naturally while growing up near vineyards in Santa Cruz, California, but it didn’t become a passion until he and Andrea went on their honeymoon in Napa Valley. They had planned on spending their time in Yellowstone National Park, but an unexpected snowstorm closed the park and forced them to make alternative plans. They instead spent their honeymoon visiting tasting rooms, meeting with winemakers, touring estates, and of course, drinking some incredible wine. To put it simply, they fell in love with it - but almost more with the vineyards and lifestyle than with the wine itself. When they returned home to Orange County, the Freys were wine fanatics and soon found their favorite varietals to be Pinot Noir and Riesling.It was 2001, and James decided to start growing grapes and making wine in his Orange County backyard. While seemingly out of place in a community that tends to accessorize with swimming pools and tennis courts, James didn’t mind, and in fact, he was used to going against the grain.

From his days growing up as a photographer in Santa Cruz, to those running a large corporation, working in advertising, acting as a photojournalist, and even becoming a world renowned abstract expressionist artist, James’ wide range of career endeavors had always been an incredible mix of right-brain and left-brain. Home winemaking became his latest obsession and it wasn’t long before he started looking toward buying vineyard land in Oregon.

Why Oregon? While perhaps not the most obvious choice when coming from California with easier access to the Central Coast, Sonoma, and Napa Valley winegrowing regions, Oregon offered something special for James and Andrea Frey. They had both done summer internships there, and when they met, had bonded over how enamored they were with the state. The idea of raising a family in Oregon had always been in the back of their minds, and when they discovered the state’s wine growing regions were well suited to producing Pinot Noir and Riesling, it seemed more fitting than ever.

In 2003, James and Andrea bought an old cattle ranch in the foothills of the Coast Range, outside McMinnville in the Ribbon Ridge winegrowing appellation. James’ parents, who had recently retired, moved to Oregon as well and provided endless help and expertise as the property was prepared to plant several acres of Pinot Noir and Riesling. In 2005, they planted 22 acres to establish their Coast Range Vineyard and have since added two additional vineyard properties, Ribbon Ridge Vineyard and Wichmann Dundee Vineyard, that are planted to 28 acres and 8 acres respectively.

On their first property, the Freys built a state-of-the-art winery facility, complete with dramatically lit underground wine caves and a 1,500 square foot art gallery to display James’ artwork. Winery tasting rooms often showcase local artists, but it’s a rare few that can feature wine and art by a single person. James’ vineyard-inspired artwork often incorporates vineyard dirt and vine cuttings as elements to create a 3D effect. Some of his paintings also wind up on his art series wine bottle labels, which have become collector’s items.

Equally impressive are James’ award-winning wines that have garnered a remarkable number of 90+ ratings since the first vintage in 2007. Trisaetum Winery’s focus remains on Pinot Noir and Riesling and currently releases up to 10 Pinot Noirs and 6 to 10 Rieslings each year. The name of the winery, Trisaetum (pronounced Tris-say-tum), is a Latinized version of the names of James’ and Andrea’s son Tristan and daughter Tatum. Together, the Frey family works together to craft small lots of wine that are uniquely suited to their specific terrior. We are happy to share this up and coming family winery with you, and hope you enjoy one of their latest offerings. Cheers!

James Frey - Winery Owner, Winemaker and Abstract Expressionist Artist

Picture of James Frey - Winery Owner, Winemaker and Abstract Expressionist Artist

Born in Santa Cruz, California, James Frey’s background is certainly unique with careers in photography, advertising, and business management before settling as a winery owner, winemaker and abstract expressionist artist in Oregon wine country. His masters degrees in Exercise Physiology and Business from the University of Arizona add another layer to his wide range of endeavors. One thing is certain - James Frey definitely enjoys a challenge and rarely lets anything stand in his way of exploring it. He hopes the Pinot Series Wine Club members will enjoy every sip of his wine.

When it comes to winemaking for Trisaetum, James Frey focuses on crafting wines with balance and great complexity. He wants wines that are memorable, wines that are bold without being overpowering, and wonderfully expressive. In the winery’s short lifespan, James has already been incredibly successful with his Pinot Noir and Riesling, two varietals that are rather finicky and difficult to grow. James enjoys the challenge though because he believes these grapes, more than any others, express the specific characteristics of the soil and climate in which they are grown - and when done right, these grapes can become exceptional wines.

About the Vineyard

Picture of About the Vineyard

Trisaetum exclusively produces Pinot Noir and Riesling, two of nature’s most difficult grapes to grow successfully. These grapes thrive in only a few select corners of the world as their thin skins demand a cool climate, while their uncanny ability to depict the characteristics of the earth calls for complex and distinctive soils, and their need for an extended hang-time makes harvest a tricky, time-sensitive process each year.

Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley is one of these such places, and the Pinot Noirs and Rieslings produced here are some of the world’s best.

Trisaetum has three estate vineyards that are each farmed sustainably. The Ribbon Ridge Vineyard, from which this month’s featured wine was produced, is 28 acres and planted in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, the smallest AVA in Oregon. The Ribbon Ridge AVA was established in 2005 and is home to approximately 20 vineyards of mostly Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Muscat Canelli.