A true one-man operation, Ransom is run entirely by owner/winemaker Tad Seestedt. Founded in 1997 with a small life savings and a handful of credit cards (hence the name), Ransom launched as a distillery making brandy, grappa, and eau d’vie. Soon after, starting with the 1999 vintage, Tad began producing small batches of Pinot Noir using purchased fruit from naturally farmed sources. All wines under the Ransom label are 100% organic, biodynamic or sustainable. He also makes a second label, Jigsaw, which is a mix of organic and conventional farming.
Tad doesn’t have set rules when it comes to making wine, but says that decisions are based on ‘taste, the other four senses, a small degree of common sense, instinct and, of course, what the grapes themselves want to do.’ In general, his wines are 100% destemmed and undergo a six day cold soak where they are hand punched 2-3 times per day. He ages all of his red wines in 1-5 year old French oak for 11 months. Although best known for elegant Pinot Noir, he recently released two new wines: Cabernet Franc and Grenache; both sourced from the Rogue Valley. These wines are intriguing expressions of the varietals and will surprise people who believe Oregon can only produce good Pinot Noir.
As if he weren’t busy enough, Tad purchased a farm in the Willamette Valley where he is already planning his own vineyard. Pinot Noir and Albarino will be planted first and he plans to eventually add some other cold climate varietals. His entire farm is already certified organic and may eventually be biodynamic as well. He expects to start seeing fruit in 2015.