By Anthony St. Clair

If you know wines from storied local wineries such as King Estate, Iris, Sweet Cheeks, and Willamette Valley, you already know Tom and Marie Kokkeler’s grapes. The real question is, have you gotten acquainted yet with the pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, chardonnay, riesling, and blanc de blancs they release as Five Fourteen Vineyards?

In 2013, the couple purchased 40 hillside acres between Lorane and Monroe. Twenty-five acres of the Territorial Highway property had been planted with grapes since 1998. It was also blooming with interest from buyers — in the front door they found multiple business cards from buyers interested in procuring grapes from the land that, at one time, was operated as Shadow Mountain Vineyards.

With their backgrounds in grass seed farming and cattle, being close to the land is nothing new to Tom and Marie. However, they initially planned to sell their harvest, not get into winemaking. The more they learned about their grapes and property, and as they visited wineries from Walla Walla to Napa, the more they recognized that something else was growing in their fields: an opportunity to create iconic wines from their annual harvest. The land guided their decision. The slope’s 350 to 500 feet elevation and southeast face drank up sunshine and seasonal fog. Five soil types, including Bellpine, rooted strong vines.

“We expanded into making our own estate wine in 2016,” says Marie, “mainly due to the fact that we met our winemaker, Drew Voit, and tried one of the best pinot noirs we’ve ever tasted.”

With a winemaking background honed at Domaine Serene, Eola-Amity Hills, Shea Wine Cellars, and other wineries, Voit understood the land — and the potential. Tom and Marie continue to sell 90% of their harvest. The other 10% has become their own boutique, limited production vintages, from fruit grown on their L.I.V.E.-certified vineyard, under their Five Fourteen label. Why Five Fourteen? Tom and Marie’s first date was on May 14, 2003.

“Pinot noir is the signature wine of our estate,” says Marie. “That being said, we are extremely excited about the future of sauvignon blanc and sparkling wines in the Willamette Valley.”

It’s no wonder. Five Fourteen’s inaugural release of their 2018 Blanc de Blancs sold out in one season, and their 2022 Estate Sauvignon Blanc sold out in six days. Each vintage is available only to vineyard visitors or Five Fourteen Club members. 

Along with their property in the Willamette Valley AVA, the Kokkelers now have vines at another property two miles away in the new Lower Long Tom AVA. Designated in 2021, the LLT AVA is the first region officially recognized for wine-growing distinction in the southern Willamette Valley. Sauvignon blanc and pinot noir vines growing at their LLT AVA property will soon have company from chardonnay and pinot meunier. This site has a higher elevation and all-Bellpine soil, and the Kokkelers expect each varietal to develop into premium wine grapes. They’re certainly keeping that in mind as they look to the year to come.

“For 2024 we are unveiling a new tasting room experience,” says Marie. “We will host a monthly members-only weekend to allow our wine club members to enjoy the wines and property.” 

This spring, Tom and Marie plan to release the second edition of the sauvignon blanc, but only to Five Fourteen Club members. It’s simply their latest evolution in understanding land, vine, and a passion for wine that embodies its terroir.

“In the last 10 years we’ve gone from 25 acres to 100 acres planted to vine,” says Marie. “Each year provides its own challenges, whether it be rain, smoke, or drought, but this makes for unique vintages of wine and a story for each growing season.”

Ultimately, she and Tom see their role as honoring a special place and helping it grow to its full potential.

“We feel honored to be able to be stewards of land in the Willamette Valley.”

Five Fourteen Vineyards

91470 Territorial Hwy., Junction City