How Nysa Vineyard Uses Nature’s Gifts to Create Unforgettable Wines in the Willamette Valley

By Published On: March 3, 2024

Credit: Nysa Vineyard

What does it take to make a world-class Pinot Noir? For Michael Mega, the founder and winemaker of Nysa Vineyard, it takes a vision, a tenacity, and a love affair with wine that started in college and took him across the globe. In 1990, he planted his first vines in the Dundee Hills of Oregon, fulfilling his dream of creating his own family-owned vineyard and winery.

After a four-year search for the perfect land, a taste of the 1985 vintage of Oregon Pinot Noir led Michael to abandon his California search and set roots in the Willamette Valley. His vision for Nysa Vineyard has remained steadfast over the years, guided by the belief that the key decisions–where to plant, what to plant, and the row spacing as well as orientation–are irreversible and form the foundation of the vineyard.

The core values that guide Nysa Vineyard are respect for the land and the fruit it yields. Michael believes that humans are merely custodians of the land, and the fruit it produces is a gift from nature. His role, as he sees it, is to channel nature’s energy into a glass, creating a wine that captures the essence of each growing season.

Credit: Nysa Vineyard

Perched at an elevation of 600-720 feet in the Dundee Hills of Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley, Nysa Vineyard is a 40-acre expanse of volcanic Jory soil. The vineyard’s unique soil composition, which includes a basalt bedrock situated 8 to 12 feet below the surface and a high percentage of clay, allows for moisture retention deep into the growing season, making dry farming possible.  The climate in the Dundee Hills is characterized by significant temperature swings during the growing season, thanks to the vineyard’s high elevation and eastern exposure. This not only provides shade from the afternoon sun but also contributes to the unique growing conditions that shape the flavor profile of Nysa Vineyard’s grapes.

Promoting biodiversity is a key cornerstone of Nysa Vineyard’s sustainable farming practices. The team believes that the top six inches of the soil, or the ‘Biome’, is crucial to biodiversity and should be left undisturbed. This rich, vibrant ecosystem is home to native yeasts, which are spread throughout the vineyard by insects. These yeasts play a vital role in the fermentation process, contributing to the unique flavor profiles of their wines.

Nysa Vineyard is known for its Pinot Noirs. The terroir, showcasing all four cardinal aspects and five different clones, significantly influences the wines’ character. Michael’s minimalist winemaking approach, believing that great wine is grown, not made, is reflected in the high acidity and concentrated flavor of their Pinot Noirs. Michael’s ongoing experimentation with different winemaking techniques for various vineyard blocks highlights their distinctive qualities.

In the heart of the Willamette Valley, the Dundee Hills have carved out a niche as a premier wine destination on the global stage. Here, small-scale producers flourish, their success rooted in a community that prizes the art of quality over the commerce of quantity. Their modest scale allows for a minimalist, artisanal approach to winemaking. The result is a portfolio of wines that are not just authentic and distinctive, but also a true reflection of their vineyard blocks. In the words of John Muir, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” In the balance of nature and craftsmanship, the Dundee Hills offer not just world-class wines, but pays homage to the enduring allure of the land.

The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives were provided for inclusion in the story. As always, the top priority is to provide readers with informative reporting.

Wine Recommendations

Credit: Nysa Vineyard

2015 Pinot Noir, Leda’s Reserve- this wine displays a stunning nose of intense and complex aromas, ranging from ripe blackberries and cassis to exotic spices. The palate is equally impressive, with a remarkable purity and balance of fruit, tannin, and acidity. The wine has a silky texture and a persistent finish that lingers on the senses. This wine shows no signs of fatigue and remains vibrant and youthful.

2017 Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills- fruity aroma with notes of roses, earth, and wood. It tastes smooth and fresh, with cranberry, raspberry, and black tea flavors followed by a long finish.

2016 Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills- flavors  of black fruits, smoke, and cherry. It has a long and spicy aftertaste, with some vanilla. This wine is smooth and balanced, with fine tannins and good acidity.

2021 Chardonnay- aromas of pear, lemon, honeycomb, and green apple. The palate is equally impressive, with a creamy texture, vibrant acidity, and a long, mineral-driven finish.

2017 Blanc de Noir Sparkling- rich and creamy, with flavors of lemon, white peach,, and chalky minerality. Crisp with a finish that is long and refreshing.

About the Author: Joe Campbell

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Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : joe@winebulletin.net .