[UPDATED: SEP 23 2014. Added podcast of interview with Dyson DeMara]
A marker will be placed today at the very first Pinot Noir vineyard in Oregon – the earliest glimmer of Oregon’s commercially successful wine industry.
The marker, designated by the Oregon Historical Marker Program, commemorates both HillCrest Winery, near Roseburg, and its founder, the late Richard Sommer, who planted Pinot Noir grapes despite dismal predictions from experts.
Current owner Dyson DeMara, who continues Sommer’s “old-school” winemaking practices, says he kept the original HillCrest name, “because it would have dishonored the winery’s history,” to rename it.
Sommer recognized the significance of sharing latitude with European winemaking regions and used prime agricultural land to establish HillCrest—Oregon’s first winery to plant and bottle Pinot Noir for retail sale.