Winemaker Chris Berg punches down a fermentor during harvest. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

Winemaker Chris Berg punches down a fermentor during harvest. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

The Roots of It All

Born in Racine, Wisc., and raised in Idaho, Pennsylvania and Illinois, winemaker and winegrower Chris Berg didn't always know he wanted to make wine. In fact, when he graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence with a bachelor's in English, he wasn't sure what his future held, as far as a career. Meanwhile his parents, Chuck and Dian Berg, had decided to relocate to Oregon from Illinois with the purchase of a manufacturing company in Tualatin, Ore. Chris soon followed and helped his parents at the plant, as well as the other reason for the big move: establishing a small vineyard.

 Chris, Hilary and Theo.

Chris, Hilary and Theo.

In 1999, the Bergs planted seven acres of mostly Pinot Noir on the 20-acre property near Yamhill in the Yamhill-Carlton District of the Willamette Valley. Chuck and Dian built a small house on the vineyard, and Chris lived in Portland with his wife, Hilary, also a Jayhawk. The family's business closed their doors in 2000, and the Bergs found themselves full-time winery folk. In 2001, Chuck and Dian moved to the sunny locale of Wickenburg, Ariz., to be near Dian's parents. Chris and Hilary were then given the opportunity to move to the vineyard from Portland. And the rest is ... in the barrels. In 2002, the Bergs picked their first harvest of a whopping three tons, which were made into 72 cases of Pinot Noir. 

 The Klee painting that inspired Roots' Klee label:  Solution "ee". of the Birthday Assignment,  1924.  

The Klee painting that inspired Roots' Klee label: Solution "ee". of the Birthday Assignment, 1924.  

Today, Roots produces approximately 5,000 cases annually. Wines include the flagship estate Pinot Noir, as well as several single vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs, sourced mostly from neighboring vineyards in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Other main varietals under the Roots label include an estate Pinot Gris and Chardonnay sourced from the neighbor.

Roots' reserve Pinot Noir label, Racine, honors the town in which Chris was born. (The name means "root" in French). And in an homage to one of Chris' favorite artists, Paul Klee, Roots' second label, Klee, makes up the largest portion of the case production with 2,000 cases made annually. The artwork is their own adaptation of an obscure Klee painting. 

Other label projects include: Theo, a sparkling named after Chris and Hilary's son (sold-out); Art Brut, a méthode Champenoise-style sparkling series made with fruit from the uncommon Red Hill Douglas County AVA;  The Barrel Project, an exercise in aging that includes wines (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Tempranillo) in barrel from 30 to 67 months and features stunning artwork by Jessi Zawicki; Un Autre Monde, a whimsical (but sold-out) Pinot Noir blend; and Sheboygandy, a play on words combining Sheboygan (another 'Sconnie town) and Burgundy, the world's famous home of Pinot Noir.

No matter the name or artwork, all wines are made with premium fruit in small lots and handcrafted using indigenous yeasts. 

 View from the tasting room.

View from the tasting room.