Focus on Oregon – Old Vine Registry
by Danielle Roberts
Earlier this month, we released a guide to vineyards with some of the oldest vines in Washington State, as listed on the Old Vine Registry. The Old Vine Registry is a volunteer driven project, aimed at promoting the preservation of historic grape vines. Today, we’re shifting our focus south, to the great state of Oregon. Oregon is an important part of American wine country, with over 900 wineries and 1000 vineyards in the state. Continue reading to learn about a few of these businesses who have kept their old vines alive and well for decades.
The Pines 1852
At the Pines 1852 Vineyard, in beautiful Hood River Oregon, you’ll find some of the oldest vines in the northwest. Planted in the late 1890s, some of the zinfandel vines at this site have been thriving for over 120 years. This historic vineyard in the Dalles is currently owned by vintner Lonnie Wright, and features a tasting room on location. Guests can also stay overnight at the Pines Cottage at the Pines estate. Our founder, Katherine Adams was lucky enough to tour the old vines with Lonnie many years ago. If you make it out to Hood River, Oregon, be sure to visit their tasting room.
The David Hill Vineyard and Winery has a long, rich legacy, with its earliest own-rooted vines planted in 1966. Some date back more than 50 years, including varieties like pinot noir, Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, and Riesling. In the 1880s, the estate was owned by the winemaking Rueter family, who managed their own vineyard until prohibition. While none of these original vines remain, the family’s 140 year old farmhouse serves as the tasting room. Today, David Hill is owned by Milan and Jean Stoyanov.
In Southern Oregon’s Umpqua valley, Pat Spangler and his team are still producing quality wine from grapevines that have been growing for over 50 years. What is now Spangler Vineyards was once La Garza Cellars. La Garza featured own-rooted, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot varieties planted as far back as 1968. After taking over the vineyard and starting his winery, Spangler expanded the variety of grapes on site, adding viognier and chardonnay. Spangler wines are available for sale on their website.
As Hyland Estates says on their website, this vineyard and winery is deeply rooted in Oregon wine history. The oldest, self-rooted vines are now 52 years old. The original crops include varieties such as Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Chardonnay. Fascinatingly, the vineyard is steeped in red volcanic Jory soil, and overlooks the Van Duzer Corridor, a region of the Willamette Valley that is ideal for grape growing. The Hyland estate also features a tasting room, where guests can experience the wine made from these seasoned vines.
Another vineyard that has been going strong for half a century is the vineyard belonging to Brooks Winery in the Willamette Valley. Pommard clone vines, planted in volcanic basalt-nekia soil, have been growing at this location since 1973. The owner, Pascal Brooks, prides his business on its sustainable growing practices. He even donates a percentage of their annual revenue to environmental causes. When visiting the winery, guests can experience private or public tastings, as well as food pairings.
At Ruby Vineyard and Winery, one can find own-rooted pinot noir vines that have flourished since 1973. This makes them some of the oldest vines in Oregon wine country. The unique Laurelwood soils in the vineyard has allowed these vines to thrive for decades. According to owner Steve Hendricks, this is what gives Ruby wine its depth and character. To experience these premium wines on location, guests can visit Ruby’s tasting room, housed in a 1943 walnut drying building known as “the Nut House.”
For over 40 years, Bethel Heights Vineyard and Winery has been a celebrated mainstay of the Oregon wine industry. The oldest vines, including pinot noir and chardonnay, were planted in 1977 by Ted and Terry Casteel, Pat Dudley and Marilyn Webb. Now, the vineyard produces a garden variety of grapes, and the property features a tasting room where guests can sample the wine. With gorgeous views from their lovely tasting room, Bethel Heights should definitely be on your list of winery/vineyards to visit. Bottle360 has been fortunate enough to visit this beautiful winery and highly recommends a trip there to stare out at the beauty of their Willamette Valley Vineyards and sip their wonderful selection of wines.
The wineries and vineyards above are just a few of the Oregon establishments that make wine from historic vines that have persevered for decades. Murto Vineyard, in the Willamette Valley, has dry-farmed, own rooted pinot noir vines that go back 45 years. At Abiqua Wind, also in the Willamette Valley, you’ll find several varieties of grapes on vines that have been growing since 1974, nearly half a century. This abundant practice of preserving and cherishing old vines is what earns Oregon its reputation as one of the most sustainable wine producing regions in America.