In 2007 he moved out of the tiny winery he had built in an industrial park in Salem (a practical place without a shred of romance) to a state-of-the-art facility deep in the Eola-Amity Hills. It was called Zenith Vineyards, and St. Innocent bought an interest in this LLC during its conceptual phase, allowing Mark to design the cellar from start to finish. In 2017, wishing to be unencumbered by partners, he sold his share in Zenith and bought a small property in the south Salem hills. There, with the help of a friend, the viticulturist Mimi Casteel, he planted a vineyard, plus an apple orchard, and built a new winery.
He’s come full circle back to owning his own place, with the enormous plus of having a vineyard. He planted it one vine at a time via a drilled hole, all 15.5 acres—without earth-moving equipment, bulldozing, or grading, meaning that virtually none of the soil and its microbial life was exposed to light or oxygen—and made the parcels organic from the start (now he’s talking with Moe Momtazi to determine biodynamic preparations). In the process, he’s downsized his production by nearly 40%. His focus remains on Pinot Noir—it comprises some 70% of what he makes—from the Freedom Hill, Momtazi, Shea and Temperance vineyards. In addition, there’s a bit of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc.