Where did “Spire Mountain Cellars” come from…

Here is our first blog post for Spire Mountain Cellars. We have talked about this for several years now and finally got enough free time during this brief tasting room downtime (starting due to a major snow event) to write something down!

In the past we’ve been asked repeatedly “Why are we called Spire Mountain Cellars” the only people who knew were a very small group of our original customers, a few wine members, and family. The question comes up quite often at gatherings in the tasting room, and events, and is answered if Kevin or Karen have the time to have good conversations. To avoid the secret becoming an elitist manifesto of members who thought that they are in the know ….. Ha Ha! We decided to spill the truth here on the opening session of the blog.

The mountain behind our ranch is officially called Tyee Mountain on all the maps and local lore, starting way back in the late 1800’s. There are stories of native Americans coming down off the mountain and visiting Hugh Cole and his family in the early days of settlement, and they are the origin of the name. The Mountain is the start of the Calapooya ridge that separates the 100 valleys of the Umpqua from the Willamette Valley, and is the major reason our wines are so unique. Our elevation on the mountain, our orientation to the sun, and the very different alluvial slough from the mountain in our soil, makes our wines distinct.

Today the forest on the mountain is 42 years old, because a fire in 1980 cleared the forest of tall timber. But when we arrived in 1999, those 19 year old trees revealed a secret piece of the mountain that is tucked into the deep gorge located directly above our ranch.  This secret is only visible from the heights east of Sutherlin with a good spotting scope, or from a particular spot on the ranch due to the cleft in the mountain. That spot is directly in front of the Tasting room on the high part of the parking area. 

Fast forward to today with tall timber shrouding the mountain you must know precisely where to look and can only see the tip of the solid rock Spire that is the bearer of our brand name. The original art work on the back of our labels showed the whole column of the basalt spire in true depiction, but bureaucracy raised its ugly head during our label approval process and found the true form of the rock to be “too Phallic” for printing on wine labels. I do not know what mindset had entered the public servant that reviewed our label application whereby depicting a towering basalt rock tower as “Phallic”, but as we all seem to react these days to governmental intrusion, we had the artist depict a less than true drawing of the mountain, got approval, printed our labels, and moved on with wine making.

So…. the next time your enjoying a fine sample of our labor, review the back label, think “Phallicly” if that is possible, and know that true history has often been modified in ink, but that the distinct flavors from the natural setting of Spire Mountain Cellars, its terroir, its rebellious wine maker, and the vines will not be modified!

Next time…. Kevin