|Pano from the top of the vineyard at Hiyu Wine Farm|
Recently I tagged along with a wine retail friend on a mid-week visit to Hiyu Wine Farm, on a lovely southeastern slope in the heart of the Hood River Valley. I'd heard good things about Hiyu and wanted to see it for myself, again.
This is the old Pheasant Valley winery property, and I'd stayed here twice some years back when it was a bed and breakfast. This area is absolutely beautiful and it was nice to see it in the new Hiyu era.
We started with a walk in the vineyard. It's been a snowy winter in the lowlands of Oregon, and as we hiked past some farm animals and then up the vineyard slope, we heard from Graham all about their field grafting project.
Vines at Pheasant Valley were planted approximately 15 years ago, joining fruit trees and other crops on a property that's been organically farmed for more than 30 years.
In 2015 the property sold and was renamed Hiyu, apparently Chinook jargon for abundance. The new owners (unfortunately away this day) are serious about natural food and wine, and things smelled great as we waited for the assistant winemaker Graham in the airy, open kitchen/tasting room.
|Looking over grafted wines in the snow at Hiyu|
Over a few years, the crew here is grafting much of the original mix of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Tempranillo and other grapes, leaving some of the original plants but a wide mix of other varieties, too many to catch on the cold but beautiful hike. Graham relayed that they're looking to make field blends that express the terroir of Hiyu.
|Animals are integral to biodynamics at Hiyu Wine Farm|
At the top we found animals that are integral to this biodynamic farm. We stopped to check out the view and hear about how there's been snow on the ground for two straight months.
We hiked back down and entered the barrel cellar to taste. Overall, Hiyu and their label for non-estate wines, Smockshop Band, are really impressive. Clearly something different is happening in the Hood these days with a handful of really exciting producers, and I'm happy to see it.
|Casks of all sizes in the cellar at Hiyu|
First, we tried two ciders. The Hood River valley is long known for its apples, so a natural fit. First a crab apple cider that I thought was taut and lovely. Then a mixed apple cider that was a little more wild and broad. I'm not a huge cider guy but this is obviously serious farmhouse stuff.
Then some white. First, Chardonnay that's lean and suave. Then a blend of white Spanish varieties that was waxy and golden, I loved it. Finally a Gewürztraminer that was pleasantly bitter as the variety tends to be, but balanced and lively.
|Beautiful oak upright fermenters|
Then we moved on to several reds. First Grenache that I loved. It was super elegant and white peppery, translucent in color, definitely a presentation we should see more of in the US. Next the Pinot Noir from 2016 and 2015. Both were fairly firm and dense.
Several of the wines come from non-estate fruit, most (all?) from Scortched Earth vineyard. The Zinfandel was fairly reduced - not unreasonably, I made wines in a reductive way as well - but clearly both dense and light on its feet. Syrah also scortched earth was nice with berry fruit and some light herbal, red pepper quality to take the wine beyond fruit.
|Each barrel gets its own name|
We then went back into the tasting room and tried a few things from bottle, all under the Smokeshop Band label:
|The Smockshop Band label|
Rich with barrel notes but I liked it, bought one of these.
White blend mostly Chardonnay 2014
Golden Chardonnay character here, fairly broad and rich but nicely in check.
Pinot Noir 2014
From estate fruit but not farmed by the new owners so under the Smokeshop Band label. Broad red fruit, black cherry and tannin, tried this again a few nights later at Davenport in Portland and it was dense and firm, in a good way but definitely weighty for Pinot.
Syrah Grenache 2015, from Scortched Earth
Incense and tannin, low fruit, interesting but a little rough but obviously young, I bought one of these as well to see how it relaxes with some more time in bottle.
|The Smockshop Band line up - estate wines from Hiyu coming soon|