While winding through Carlton and Dundee on the first afternoon of our arrival, the degree to which I underestimated the geographical scope of the northern Oregon wine industry became frustratingly apparent. Being guided by nothing in particular, just a Willamette Valley tasting room map dotted with an incredible number of dots on Carey’s lap, I was almost too overwhelmed to know where to start.
We had no official appointments until the next day, so Carey consulted the alternate list of wineries and addresses in my notebook that were to serve as fillers in case of unexpected time gaps or cancellations. Vista Hills had contacted us on Twitter just a day or two before heading out, and we noticed we were just minutes away. Thanks to social media, we had purpose! Off we went.
Sadly, wine from Vista Hills is not to be found in New York, nor was I familiar with them—but this was perfect way to start the weekend. The breathtaking setting didn’t hurt either. High in the Dundee Hills, vines sweeping in every direction, the Vista Hills Treehouse Tasting Room is stunningly idyllic—and we had it all to ourselves.
Ryan, the tasting room manager, was a perfect ambassador for two anxious Oregon newbies. He started by doing the only reasonable thing: pouring. The ’08 Treehouse Estate Pinot Gris was the first and only white wine in what proved to be an approachable and individualistic lineup of Pinot Noir.
Vista Hills sources their lineup through the efforts of multiple winemakers, vineyards, and wineries. There is no winery onsite; instead, Vista Hills, along with their winemaker Dave Petterson, produces much of the small production line at Panther Creek Cellars. DePonte Cellars and Laurent Montalieu at Northwest Wine Company produces two of the Pinots Carey and I got a chance to sample. The collaboration of talent injects amazing variation through the lineup.
Winemaker Dave Petterson, camera in hand, wandered into the tasting room after taking some bottle shots. Apparently Carey and I arrived just in time for bud break in the vineyards. Little white fuzzy dots having been teased out by the warm weather starting to appear on the vines and were causing quite a stir in the valley—and for good reason—there is a lot of March left and a freeze is not out of the question.
The relatively new facility is beautiful inside, and holds host to weddings and events. Pretty picturesque.
Excellent news for us, but maybe not for the readers who will no doubt begin to salivate when I describe these and probably not be able to get their hands on them: we are now Vista Hills club members! Anxiously awaiting our first shipment.
And we didn’t leave totally empty-handed. A bottle of the Saga Hills Pinot Noir came with us and we split it over a dinner of venison and Pacific halibut at the Allison’s restaurant, Jory—a perfect ending to a perfect first day.
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