Family-owned, family-farmed.

We are the ‘J’ and ‘L’ in J.L. Kiff Vineyard.
We grow the grapes, make the wine and greet you when you visit!

Joel and Laurie Kiff

About Us

Joel grew up in northern California wine country and Laurie in the Willamette Valley. We met at UC Davis in the 1980s and believe it or not, neither of us were studying viticulture nor enology. As we raised our kids in Davis, we yearned for a more rural lifestyle. So, in 2003 we purchased our place just outside McMinnville and moved to the property in 2005. Joel started planting the vineyard and we raised cattle while we waited for the grapes to mature. Then we sold grapes for a few years, and in 2010 made our first wine, 130 cases. Now we make about 1,000 cases of wine each year. We love living here and look forward to sharing our wine with you!

Our vineyard, winery, and tasting room are all on our property, just minutes from McMinnville and Carlton. We originally built our pole barn as a cattle feeding barn, but in 2012 we cleaned it up for our daughter’s wedding! This was helpful because in 2017, we converted the barn into our tasting room. That year, we also purchased a mix of new and used winemaking equipment and started making the wine ourselves, at our place.

The ‘A’ Team

Over the years, our four kids have helped in the vineyard and winery, as well as with our tasting room events. In the summer of 2023, we hired our first employee: our son Adam Kiff. Adam lives in Oklahoma with his family, and oversees marketing, wine shipments, and special projects.

The Vineyard

Our property is a classic Willamette Valley vineyard site: south-facing, 450-650 feet in elevation. We are located in the southwest corner of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and our vineyard is planted in volcanic soil, part of the coast range basalt formation. 

Joel planted our vineyard in stages: “In 2005 I planted our first vines: 667 Pinot Noir and 777 Pinot Noir. Using a small shovel and a desk job body, I enthusiastically planted almost two acres. Even with a myriad of aches and pains, I knew I had to quit my job and farm wine grapes. So in 2006, I planted 3 acres of Pommard Pinot Noir, at a slower pace. In 2007 I took a breather and planted a quarter acre of Pinot Gris. And in 2008, planted 3.5 more acres of 667 and 777, to complete our original nine and a half acres. Then, in 2021 we planted a half-acre of Chardonnay clone 95, to bring the vineyard to about 10 acres.”  

As we say, Joel knows pretty much all 10,000 vines personally.

Wines and Wine Labels

Labels
Our kids create the art on our labels. Our daughter, Erin Sullens, with watercolor, and our son, Adam Kiff, with pen and ink. Chris Noud of NowDesign puts our labels together beautifully.
 
Pinot Noir
We primarily age our Pinot Noir in neutral French oak barrels, though we purchase a new barrel every year or so.
 
Chardonnay
Our recent vintages have also been fermented in neutral oak barrels, with both primary and secondary fermentation in barrel.
 
Rosé of Pinot Noir
We pick the grapes fully ripe, leave them ‘on the skins’ for four days, and ferment in a stainless tank.
 
Winemaker
For our first vintages, our wine was made at the Biggio Hamina winery, by Tim Wilson of Denison Cellars. We learned about winemaking from Tim, including his elegant, hands-off style of winemaking. In 2017, we moved our winemaking operation to our place and Joel transitioned to winemaker.  

The Move to Oregon, 2004

The Kiff Family moves to McMinnville, OR.

A Vineyard is Born, 2005

Joel plants the first blocks of Kiff Vineyard with Pinot Noir 667 and 777. Pommard and the rest of our first ten acres are planted over the next four years.

First Vintage, 2010

J.L. Kiff Vineyard produces its first Pinot Noir vintage, with the help of local winemaker Tim Wilson.

Tasting Room Opens, 2016

Our tasting ‘veranda’ opens in the converted pole barn, and we start hosting our first visitors!

First On-Site Vintage, 2017

With our new winery license, the we make our first vintage entirely on-site. We also make our first Chardonnay, with grapes from Cassin Family Vineyards, our neighbors.

Chardonnay is Planted, 2021

We plant our first Chardonnay vines. Joel also begins experimenting with a modified high trellis design.

High Trellis, 2024

Joel converts the entire vineyard to the new high trellis system. This saves hundreds of hours of vineyard work, reduces the need for spraying, and is much easier to pick.

Want to keep tabs on vineyard news and updates?