With Heart & Soil
Worden Hill Growers grounded in Community
Story by Kerry McDaniel Boenisch | May 1, 2015
“For some, the discovery carries an aura of gold rush fever that once grasped the imaginations of early day prospectors. The less optimistic consider it nothing more than a real estate promotions scheme. Between these two extremes are a handful of dedicated viticulturists (wine grapegrowers) risking their capital and futures on the promise that Oregon is capable of producing and establishing a competitive market for wine grapes. Joining the viticulturists, and perhaps outnumbering them, are part-time growers going into the grape business as a sideline to full-time jobs or professions in other areas,” excerpted from “Wine Industry Grows in Oregon,” Oregon State Press, 1972.
David Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyards, appeared on the doorstep of Jim McDaniel’s McMinnville granary in 1970. He asked McDaniel if he could buy a building from him near the current site of the Granary District to make wine. McDaniel obliged and sold him a small outbuilding on Alpine Avenue.
Helping Lett make his first vintage in 1970 inspired McDaniel to purchase a 15-acre vineyard in the Worden Hill Road neighborhood in the Dundee Red Hills in 1972, where he built a family home and established McDaniel Vineyards, now Torii Mor Winery.
When Rollin Soles, founder of Argyle and ROCO Winery, arrived in Oregon in 1985, he was introduced to McDaniel by Allen Holstein, then working as the vineyard manager at Knudsen-Erath. He was also managing McDaniel’s vineyard. Soles lived in the McDaniel’s house that fall and made wine in the basement. It didn’t seem unusual to McDaniel at the time; he valued the help from the young men who would eventually become luminaries in the Oregon wine industry.
Throughout the two decades, more bought land and planted vineyards in the three-mile radius of Worden Hill and Fairview roads. By 1980, there were 10 operating vineyards in the neighborhood. The early winemaking community in nearby Yamhill, Washington and Polk county hillsides also included Adelsheim, Amity Vineyards, Bethel Heights, Honeywood, Sokol-Blosser, Ponzi, Coury/Hillcrest, Shafer, Elk Cove, Tualatin Estate, Oak Knoll, among others. These wineries’ stories are often shared, unlike those of the distinct group of winegrowers in and around Worden Hill Road. Read the entire article here.