Oregon's first pinot noir came from Roseburg

Oregon's first pinot noir came from Roseburg

ROSEBURG, Ore. - Oregon is known for pinot noir wine - and the first pinot in Oregon came from a Roseburg-area winery a half century ago.

Pinot grapes have grown in HillCrest Winery's vineyards for more than 50 years.

"First winery to plant a pinot noir and produce pinot noir, a variety that's recognized for Oregon all over the world, internationally," said Dyson DeMara.

DeMara and his family took over HillCrest in 2003 after working in the wine business for 20 years.

They chose Douglas County because of the region's suitability for growing a variety of wines.

"So the soil that we have here, we have more soil types than any fine wine region in America, overwhelmingly," DeMara said. "The state of Iowa has two major series of soil. Napa County has 32. Douglas County has 150."

The soil, coupled with the many hills that offer different elevation changes, are perfect for growing a variety of grapes in a small area, he said.

"The very very small distances and aspects, we have fantastic range, which gives us the ability to grow a lot of fantastic grape varieties and produce a lot of very high quality wines," DeMara said.

DeMara, his wife and 3 kids run the winery.

"We do all the farming, all the winemaking, we grow our own plant material," he said.

He loves what he does but said it can be challenging at times.

"It's a sickness," DeMara joked. "People talk about passion; the terminal stage of passion is a sickness."

He said sharing his passion with others makes it all worthwhile. "The spirituality of making a very beautiful natural product that gives people pleasure," he said.

The DeMaras have started to branch out beyond Douglas County wine. They recently purchased a few acres in Germany and Spain. He also started to distill spirits and is even dabbling in making olive oil.