Family Owned and Operated Since 1984
Our story dates back to the 1970's, when Dieter, our founder, made it to Eugene from the then communist East Germany, despite the Berlin wall. In his early years in the US, he was a tree planter; he let go of his computer analyst skills to play in the dirt. Driven by his passion for nature, and inspired by the landscape of the Elbe River Vineyards, and the romance of the wine villages which he experienced while he attended university in Dresden, Germany, Dieter planted his first vines at High Pass Vineyard in 1984. At that time, it was initially a 20-acre parcel of land and he saw the potential of this area, at a time when no one else did. Most people thought he was a crazy immigrant with a crazy idea!
A few years later, he started producing some of the premium wine grapes that gained Oregon international acclaim. Local wineries were willing buyers of his early crops, but he always made sure that there were enough grapes left for him to learn about wine-making himself. High Pass Winery's first commercial crush occurred in 1994. Dieter has established more vineyards in the area and sold them, or at least helped the new-comers to establish their vineyards. Since then, we have continued producing exceptionally high-quality wines that have earned wide acclaim.
After years of growing Pinot Noir, Dieter believes in the centuries-old theory of terroir, which refers to how a region’s soil, microclimate, and exposure affect the wine that it nurtures. Pinot Noir, like no other grape variety, expresses the unique combination of characteristics inherent in where it is grown. Yes, we are in the Willamette Valley, but Dieter believes this area deserves its own recognition. For this reason, he petitioned for a sub-AVA, initially under the name Prairie Mountain (as proposed by the Prairie Mountain Wineries marketing group); however, this name was rejected by the TTB. A few months later, Dieter resubmitted the proposal as Lower Long Tom sub-AVA. This petition was accepted by the TTB on January 5, 2018 and in November of 2021 was officially recognized as a sub-AVA of the Willamette Valley.
Small by choice...
Even though we farm about 62 acres of grapes, our grapes are highly sought after by other wineries. We focus on a small production of wine, producing an average of 1500 cases a year. Being a small-volume producer by choice, our wine has lots of structure and character. We farm 5 vineyards; High Pass, Priddy, Union School, Hazel Smith (formerly known as Moriah), and our newest addition Hildebrand Ranch. All 5 vineyards are within the proximity of the winery.