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September 13, 2023 / Learn The History of Woolly

woolly the mammoth at domaine serene

The Geology That Created Our Vineyard Diversity

Around 14,000 years ago, near the end of the last Ice Age, North America experienced the largest known flood of freshwater. Glacial Lake Missoula was a massive lake in western Montana formed by a glacier that dammed the Clark Fork River. The lake was about 2,000 feet deep and more than 2,000 miles long. It held more water than Lake Erie and Lake Ontario combined. When enough water had built up behind the ice dam, the pressure from the water broke through the ice all at once causing the massive flooding.

The floods were unlike anything seen in modern history. If you took the flow of all the rivers in the world right now, the amount of water per hour shooting out from Glacial Lake Missoula is estimated to have been 10 times as much as all of them combined. Flood water raced across the landscape at 65 miles per hour, sweeping away hundreds of feet of soil and cutting deep canyons in the earth. The lake was drained in about two days. Amazingly, the glacier continued to form again and again. At least 13 and perhaps up to 70 floods occurred. These floods carved out the Columbia River Gorge and deposited vast amounts of soils, rocks and boulders not native to this area.

The valley visible from the Tasting Room at Domaine Serene flooded to depths of almost 400 feet, and deposited the various soil types that ultimately created the agricultural richness of the Willamette Valley.

Local artist, Dixie Jewett, read about the ice age and the extinction of the Woolly Mammoth during the time of the Missoula floods due to the cold temperatures not suitable for its survival. As the Ice Age was ending, and with the ice dams breaking and the Willamette Valley flooding, Dixie imagined a frozen Woolly Mammoth washing in with all the silt and boulders from Montana. It took Dixie about a year to create Woolly, bending and welding all the parts herself. Grace drove by Woolly for many years as he stood on his “ice chunks” in a field near Lafayette, OR on Highway 18 at McMinnville’s Erratic Tree Farm.  Grace found him irresistible and purchased him in 2013. Dixie personally loaded Wooly on a flatbed truck and drove to Domaine Serene. At the age of 72, Dixie has had no formal training as an artist. She made Woolly after taking a weekly (6 weeks only) course in welding at the local high school. She is amazing!

Woolly’s body is constructed entirely of steel while his eyes and tusks are made of bronze; he weighs approximately 7,400 pounds. ‘Woolly’ serves as a unique reminder of the Willamette Valley’s dramatic geological history. 

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