If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been exploring a lot of wines of the Pacific Northwest this summer. It’s been delightful getting to know the wines and winemakers in my backyard!
This week I’m introducing you to an area that I have not yet featured on my blog: Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. Situated in southwestern Oregon, the Umpqua Valley produces some delicious yet oft-overlooked wines.
I actually spent my childhood very near this area, in a remote corner between Coquille and Myrtle Point, not too far of a drive from Roseburg, which is where HillCrest Winery is located. HillCrest makes wines for very limited distribution, but fortunately for us they also have a secondary label, Heydon Road, that is distributed in retail outlets.
HillCrest was founded by Richard Sommers in 1961 with the help of Adolph Doerner, whose family first planted grapes in the Umpqua Valley in 1888. HillCrest has the distinction of having the first Pinot Noir plantings in Oregon as well as being Oregon’s oldest estate winery. Richard Sommers released their first Pinot Noir with the 1967 vintage.
Since 2003, the winery has been expertly run by husband and wife Dyson and Susan DeMara. While embracing the legacy of founder Richard Sommers, the two have brought a renewed energy and passion to the winery, and it definitely shows in the wine.
HillCrest’s Heydon Road label is produced specifically for retail consumption, and at very attractive prices. Their Pinot Noir in particular is an excellent value for the quality.
The Pinot Noir first grabbed my attention with it’s ultra-dark yet crystalline ruby red color. This isn’t the light red of your typical Oregon Pinot. With flavors of red cherries and herbs, it’s airy and fruit-forward, making it a perfect pairing for a light summer meal.
I selected the Heydon Road 2009 Pinot Noir Cuvée “Richard Sommers” to serve with my Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad for that very reason. The wine is light enough that it lets the food shine through while the fruit flavors enhance the sweetness of the beets and cherry tomatoes. It makes for a deliciously light summer dinner on the patio.
Get the recipe for Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad here.
Buy a bottle of Heydon Road 2009 Pinot Noir Cuvée “Richard Sommers” here.
Always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.