Taste the Essence of Willamette Valley in Every Bottle.
Winemaker Gary Andrus (1945-2009) founded Archery Summit in 1993 with a deep love for Pinot Noir and the potential he saw in the Willamette Valley. He was drawn to the Dundee Hills, which boasts growing conditions similar to Burgundy in France and is home to some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir vineyards.
Having honed his skills at Pine Ridge Vineyards, Andrus brought decades of winemaking expertise to Archery Summit. His passion for creating wines that reflect their origins led him to specialize in vineyard-designate wines, intricately connected to the unique characteristics of each site.
After Andrus’s passing, Ian Burch is now leading the winemaking. We interviewed him to learn more about Archery Summit.
What type of wine do you specialize in?
Archery Summit Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Ian Burch: Pinot Noir is our calling card, but we also make Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. In all, we make 13 small-batch wines, primarily vineyard designate Pinot Noirs that showcase the diversity of the appellation. We also make a Dundee Hills Pinot Noir blend as well as single vineyard Chardonnay and two Chardonnay blends from the Dundee Hills.
Lastly, we produce a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris from the broader Willamette Valley AVA, a means of introducing consumers to our brand at a lower price point. Focus on the vineyard has long been a major part of our story. We began making estate vineyard designate Pinot Noirs back in 1993 in the Dundee Hills.
Today, we have five single vineyard holdings in Dundee, which total roughly 65 acres of planted estate production. Each vineyard site is wildly unique, made up of varying blocks that differ in elevation, clone, rootstock vine age and aspect.
What makes your wine unique?
Ian Burch: The Dundee Hills AVA is a very special wine growing region mainly because of its fertile volcanic soils and consistent influence from cooling coastal winds. Volcanic soil is full of nutrients and has a natural tendency for holding moisture which makes our vines healthy and fruitful.
The proximity of our vineyards to the coast allows them to cool down each evening, resulting in acidity and freshness – the lifeblood of a good wine. We pay very close attention to our fermentations, in a quest to develop more satiny, textural tannins that really help to balance the wine.
Our biodynamic and regenerative farming efforts help to produce Pinot Noirs that have soul and character. That in turn removes any need for herbicides, allowing for more biodiversity around the vine.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about your winery?
Ian Burch: Our brand-new Tasting House is finally open as of November 2023 – guests can experience our world class Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays with our warm and knowledgeable staff from our perch on the hill, surrounded by vineyards.
The new space boasts an 1,800-square-foot enclosed tasting room with a captivating fireplace. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide breathtaking views of the Dundee Hills and there’s an outdoor terrace. Combined with our quarter mile-long underground cave system lined with wine barrels, it’s a remarkable experience.
How did you get started in the wine industry?
Ian Burch: When I was young, my father worked in agriculture, and I grew a love for plants, soils, bugs and nature from as far back as I can remember. I discovered winemaking as a 15-year-old who needed to begin filling in college applications.
I chose viticulture and winemaking in the Mediterranean climate of San Luis Obispo, California. Funnily enough, my Aunt Paula from Michigan would visit us in the Sacramento Valley where I grew up and I was invited to tag along wine tasting and golfing as a 9-year-old. She would ice down her white wine and let me sip it. This, combined with years of Catholic masses and a heavy wine preaching bible upbringing, gave the entire industry a mythical and alluring feel.
As I began studying at Cal Poly, I found an excuse to travel the world to complete wine internships. I’ve never looked back!
Share a popular tasting experience?
Ian Burch: The Arrow Flight served in the Tasting House is a memorable experience. Guests can relax and take in the panoramic views while tasting.
Another great experience is the Legacy Cave Tour and Tasting, taking guests into our subterranean system of caves some 45 feet under the vines – a great opportunity to physically see and learn more about the volcanic soils on which we grow. It’s like hanging out in a cross-section of the Dundee Hills, with barrels and basalt rock for company.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the winemaking process?
Ian Burch: There is no such thing as a perfect wine, and it is important to regularly taste your wines blindly against a competitive set to help measure your progress. It’s an exercise in humility and relativity, making certain that you are not unnecessarily patting yourself on the back or are equally worked up about something that isn’t perceivable to anyone else.
Get out there and taste other people’s wine and talk to winemakers that do things differently or similarly to you. Discover beauty in these differences. One farming or winemaking tip or technique can shift your winemaking style significantly.
Also, embrace your community and share your time with them so that you can all grow together.
Do you remember the first time you fell in love with wine?
Ian Burch: After having studied wine and receiving a Bachelor’s degree in it, pouring wine in a tasting room and interning in Gallo’s experimental vineyard and winemaking research facility in Healdsburg, working in the Loire Valley was where I fell in love with wine.
I was deep into French indie films like Amélie, listening to Serge Gainsbourg and Yann Tiersen, reading Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Trail and literally watching it all unfold in the French Countryside.
The crew at Domaine Jo Pithon featured irreverent employees who shared amazing bottles and were patient with my burgeoning French. That’s when I knew. I knew that I loved the French even more and that the world of wine is vast.
San Luis Obispo and Healdsburg couldn’t be any more different than my beloved Loire, but I had a warm place for all of them. Still, after working in Burgundy, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, I couldn’t have asked for a more romantic and educational start of my career in the Loire.
Describe your winemaking approach.
Ian Burch: First, follow your gut!
Every decision that we make in winemaking is connected. It’s impossible for someone to make wine exactly like us since we have our own unique fruit, cultures, equipment, etc. So, I like to be generous with my knowledge.
I also feel like there are small windows in time to make decisions – such as when to prune, top a wine, take wine out of a barrel, etc. If you miss your window, the wine changes a little. If you keep making decisions that fall outside of this optimal window, they negatively link together and show up in the wine. All those dots connect.
This industry is so competitive and it’s vital that the wine is great, never mind the marketing, sales, and trend-predicting that go with that. It’s important to strive to be great everywhere you can. In winemaking, if there is a problem with your wine, fix it right then because I feel like if you don’t and another issue comes up, then you have to choose what to fix.
Do you have a favorite story about working at your winery?
Ian Burch: Opening the new Tasting House as a team has been a remarkable undertaking. The better we work together in hospitality and production, the more genuine the experience becomes for our guests and visitors.
The wine has to be awesome but creating an unforgettable experience is what people have come to expect over the past 30 years. It’s a hallmark of Archery Summit and the Willamette Valley at large and why shouldn’t it be?
We love showing off what we get to be a part of.
What do you love about winemaking?
Ian Burch: I’m never bored and I love that not one single day, growing season, harvest or ultimately wine will ever be the same.
I get better by experiencing things. It’s easier to make a decision in the vineyard or the winery when you can compare the current set of conditions with a handful of other instances that you have successfully or unsuccessfully dealt with. Making decisions more rapidly – as you need to do in the throes of harvest – gets easier over time because you have a bank of reference to work with.
The wines, of course, are more than all of those calculated decisions and involve both luck and a bit of magic (that thing that you can’t track or measure because it’s just there swimming in a pool of acid, tannins and color).
Do you have any winery traditions with your team?
Ian Burch: We love burritos and would eat them every day if my company allowed it!
How does your team help you as a winemaker?
Ian Burch: As I move through this life as a winemaker and vineyard manager, the hardest part about my job has been confronting who I am as a person. As fun as traveling the world is, I believe that it allows people to be whomever they wish to be, learn, contribute, then leave.
As I became more sedentary by choosing a career in the Willamette Valley, my career is more focused on people and emotional intelligence than winemaking. People teach you a lot about yourself no matter who you think you are. Not only does my production team have incredible palates and are extremely dedicated to the wines, but I have learned to slow down, soften up and have built a strong desire to understand people more deeply; as much as I wish to craft tasty wines that people can connect with.
We would be nothing as a brand if it wasn’t for all of the people that devote their life to getting it all just right every day. I also have a team of winemakers from our sister properties at Crimson that I can be vulnerable with and get honest and open feedback from.
I feel thankful to have such hardworking people around me at the winery, vineyard and in hospitality. There is a very special magnet that Archery Summit has grown over the years and I feel fortunate to be learning from everyone that has stuck to it. Crimson in general is an outrageously talented organization with a ferociously gifted leadership team. With a very supportive boss and mentor who I constantly learn from, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.