When wine tasting in the Umpqua valley stopping in at HillCrest Winery is a must (get it?). The Catz were prowling around for a tasting adventure and by luck or fate decided to stop in for a visit. Oregon’s oldest estate winery, vines were first planted by Oregon wine legend Richard Sommers on the site in 1961. The estate now in the hands of Dyson and Susan Demara and their children Hanna, Parker and Tucker is the epitome of a great family run winery.
When we drove up our first impression was the vines seemed unkempt compared to some other vineyards in the area. We later found that the vineyards are farmed using green/sustainable techniques such as dry farming and permanent cover crops. So a big plus there. Coming up the drive to the winery, the impression was of a well kept and well run operation, very inviting.
A touch of humor greeted us, literally, at the door where a helpful sign assured us it was indeed the door (camouflaged as it was by the surrounding, matching wood, I can imagine more than one taster that was on their second or third winery had a bit of trouble finding it pre-sign.)
The tasting room feels friendly enough to be a family room and you, a new family friend. When we walked in the place was buzzing with happy people (always a good sign). A friendly dog greeted us and then parked himself on the beautiful oriental rug. There were several tables with room for tasting as well as a gorgeous copper topped bar (wish my picture had come out) with a patina that showed a history of fun wine imbibing.
The wines were top notch starting with the 2009 “Cadiz” Tempranillo (lovely fruit, nuanced with smoke, tobacco and a hint of spice) and ending with a late harvest Gewurztraminer (Pure sinful sweet lush fruit and spice). Notable too was the Cab Franc (we got one of the last two bottles) the Rosé (you KNOW how we love a good Rosé – this one made our hit parade) and a Moselle sourced Riesling that had that fabulous intense fruit balanced with plenty of that bright acidity that you expect from the best German Rieslings. One or two of their wines are made using dried grapes resulting in a delightful concentration of flavors and surprisingly, no “raisiny” taste. Tasting was $5, or free with purchase.
We enjoyed a leisurely tasting of the reds, then took a break and had a picnic on their lovely upstairs deck. Gorgeous views, some cheese-fruit-bread and a glass of the Rosé made for a memorable meal alfresco.
Late afternoon saw us trying the whites, buying a few favorite bottles, snapping some photos (Was especially intrigued by the circle of heads) and saying a reluctant farewell. What a delightful place! If you come tasting the Umpqua Valley, put Hillcrest on your “do not miss” list!