Wine Tasting at David Hill Winery, Willamette Valley, Oregon

This article is part of the one-month road trip series, The Great Northwest North American Wine Road Trip. Follow along in real time on Twitter with the hashtag, #NWRoadTrip.

The pinot noir grapevines on the David Hill winery property are some of the first ever planted in Willamette Valley, but whether or not they are the oldest is pretty fiercely contested. Located outside of Forest Grove, David Hill makes both excellent white and red wines, and the tasting room is open daily, offering tastes of seven wines for $5 (fee waived with purchase). I highly recommend visiting; the wines are both delicious and well priced.

David Hill Winery is located inside of a low-down rustic and historic farmhouse

In the history of Oregon wine, the names David Lett and Charles Coury are like George Washington and Ben Franklin: those guys were the wackos studying oenology at UC Davis who predicted (correctly) that Oregon would be the next big pinot noir producer after Burgundy, France. Local folklore says that David Lett smuggled pinot noir rootstock (along with many other rootstocks, including silvaner, gewurztraminer, and marsanne) from Burgundy to Oregon in the 1960s, and that he and Charles cloned the rootstock until they had enough to plant a vineyard.

The vineyard they planted is still alive and well, and it is located on the David Hill winery estate. Because David "smuggled" the vines in, there are no official records of when this happened—and thereby no proof that the pinot vines are the oldest in Oregon. Nevertheless, when I spoke with Jason Bull, David Hill's winemaker, he confirmed that David Lett brought the rootstock to Oregon in 1965.

David Hill Winemaker Jason Bull
Today, David Hill winery creates killer wines. I love the pinot gris, riesling, and pinot noirs. Also, the big, bold Farmhouse Red, which comes in a $12 bottle or $40 box (4 bottles), is an excellent table wine. The whites tend to be slightly off-dry, with residual sugar levels between 1 and 3 percent. When wine tasting, check out these standout wines:
  • 2012 Pinot Gris
  • 2011 Riesling
  • 2009 Estate Winemaker Cuvee Pinot Noir
  • 2009 Estate Blackjack Pinot Noir
  • N/V Farmhouse Red

Portions of this article included information obtained during a press trip funded by the Washington County tourism board.


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