What is the oldest winery in Willamette Valley?

Answered by Marvin Richey

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I have had the pleasure of exploring the rich history and fascinating culture of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. When it comes to the oldest winery in this region, HillCrest undoubtedly takes the crown. With its bonded winery certificate number 42, HillCrest holds a significant place in the history of winemaking in Oregon.

HillCrest Winery was established in 1961 by Richard Sommer, a visionary pioneer who defied conventional wisdom by planting Pinot Noir grapes in the Willamette Valley. At a time when many believed that the region was too cold and wet for grape cultivation, Sommer's determination and passion for winemaking led him to prove them wrong.

I vividly recall visiting HillCrest and being struck by the rustic charm of the estate. The winery is nestled in the midst of rolling hills and vineyards, creating a picturesque backdrop for wine tasting. The sense of history and tradition that permeates the property is palpable, making it a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts.

One of the reasons why HillCrest holds such a significant position in Oregon's wine history is its role in obtaining Oregon's first bonded winery license after the repeal of Prohibition. This license, numbered 42, signifies HillCrest's status as the 42nd bonded winery in the state. This milestone solidified HillCrest's place as Oregon's oldest estate winery.

During my visit, I had the opportunity to sample some of HillCrest's acclaimed wines. The Pinot Noir, in particular, was exceptional. The cool climate and unique terroir of the Willamette Valley impart a distinctive character to the wines produced here. HillCrest's commitment to sustainable and organic farming practices further enhances the quality and authenticity of their wines.

The legacy of Richard Sommer and HillCrest Winery is not only seen in their wines but also in the influence they had on the development of the Willamette Valley as a world-renowned wine region. Sommer's belief in the potential of the region paved the way for other winemakers to follow suit and establish their own vineyards and wineries.

HillCrest Winery stands as the oldest winery in the Willamette Valley, holding bonded winery certificate number 42. Its rich history, dedication to quality winemaking, and pioneering spirit make it a true gem in the Oregon wine industry. A visit to HillCrest is not only an opportunity to taste exceptional wines but also a chance to immerse oneself in the history and heritage of winemaking in the Willamette Valley.