The History of a Hill
The History on a Hill

This hill is the precise location of both the origins of Oregon's wine culture and Oregon's wine renaissance. This farm was once called the Reuter Estate and there were vineyards here from about 1887 until the beginnings of Prohibition in 1915 (Oregon enacted Prohibition 4 years prior the the Federal Government), when those first vines were pulled up and replaced with fruit trees, potatoes, and grazing fields. This vineyard site was brought back to life when it was purchased in 1965 by Charles and Shirley Coury and in 1966 planted to wine grapes, thus kicking off the modern wine industry in the Willamette Valley. The vineyard was subsequently bought and sold many times since 1978, but it has been in the safe hands of the Stoyanov family since 1992.
Our Golden Cluster label started with the 2013 vintage, marking another new era of wines from this historic vineyard and a special link between Oregon's past and current wine history. For us, this is hollowed ground. We are forever grateful to the Stoyanov family for allowing us to buy some of these historic grapes and allow us to make our wines under their roof. We are humbled by their generosity and their commitment to carry on a 130+ year old tradition on this site..

 

The Rueter (Reuter) Family

Date of image unknown, Ernest Rueter in front of vines, Adolf on porch.

Date of image unknown, Ernest Rueter in front of vines, Adolf on porch.

Frederick Adolf Rueter (Reuter) an immigrant from Germany, arrived in Forest Grove, Washington County, Oregon in 1886. He secured a plot of land in the hills above Forest Grove at the mouth of the Gales Creek Valley, with sweeping valley views to the South. He began construction on an “H” shaped home in a style that was standard for its era. These homes could be configured in many ways based on the size of ones family. Once construction was well underway, Adolf sent word for his family to join him in America. By 1887, his wife Caroline, his son Ernest, and his four daughters, Freida, Elsie, Kathe, and Helen arrived from Germany ready for their new life in America. Another daughter Gertrude, would be born in the U.S.A two years later. We assume that Adolf planted grape vines around 1887/88 and at some point (probably around 1891/92) started the Reuter Winery on site. Their wines quickly gained attention locally as well as some national acclaim. Many of Reuter’s wines received medals at numerous World’s Fairs (the premiere wine event of the era) across the country:

1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition Omaha, Nebraska, silver medal
1901 Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, bronze medals for his Burgundy and Muscat.
1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition Portland, Oregon, silver medal

His son Ernest would enter the world of wine as well around the turn of the century. He was asked by the State of Oregon and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station in Corvallis, to write an “industry summary” on wine grapes. The paper was written in 1901 and it was called “The Grape in Oregon”. This quote from Ernest is the most interesting:

”I find Sweetwater, Zinfandel, Burgundy, Black Hamburg, Muscatel, Red Mountain, Chasselas Fountainbleu, Delaware, and Muscat excellent for our purposes.”

By 1905 the State of Oregon asked for an update, this time the summary was more specific “The European Grape in Oregon” and this time he would offer up words that are just as relevant today as they were in 1905:

"Contrary to general expectation, Oregon, the land of rain, is capable of producing some of the choicest vines."

It is a contentious topic; the question of who planted the first Pinot Noir vines in the Willamette Valley. For me personally, focusing on one grape has always been a failure of our region. It is a distraction from the true potential of Oregon wines. But, for those who believe that this question is important, then you should know that there is strong evidence to suggest that the first planing of Pinot Noir (Burgundy) occurred in the late 1880’s at the Reuter Vineyard in the hills above Forest Grove. Oregon’s history with Pinot Noir didn’t begin in 1965-1966, it began 75 years earlier.

This is not to take anything away from the herculean efforts it took for Charles Coury and David Lett to go against nearly ALL of their professors at UC-Davis at the time, to go against “popular” belief and find their way up to Oregon to root and plant a variety of wine grapes between 1965 - 1967. Without their shear will, stubbornness, and foresight, our industry would not be what it is today….

 

Charles & Shirley Coury

Like many people in the wine business, Charles Coury got bit by the wine bug. He was not born into the industry, the industry seduced him. Charles Coury received his Bachelors Degree in Meteorology from U.C.L.A. Coury was a Korean War veteran, and it was at an officers hall somewhere in Korea were he first encountered European wines. He became a complete convert when he made the connection between weather, place, soil, and taste. This to him was a revelation, so he returned to the U.S.A. He considered going back to school, but he just started having a family, so a job had to come first. Back in L.A. he took a job working for a wine wholesaler. He was selling and drinking wines from around the world and became enthralled with its history, diversity of taste, the communal nature of wine. After much encouragement from his wife Shirley, he went back to school to learn more about wine. He entered the Horticulture program at U.C.-Davis in 1961 and dove into the deep end of the pool. Coury had a meteorological basis for most of his wine beliefs along with a deep appreciation of traditional wine cultures and their wines, mixed with the allure of technology and the foresight of how wine was prime to enter the American psyche. Coury came to Oregon because of a movie. Sometime in the late 1950’s early 1960’s the family watched the WWII movie “Battleground” staring Van Johnson. There’s a scene in the movie where the Americans came to a “T” section in the road. It was in the middle of winter, the sign post read “ ← Paris I Reims → “ This was Coury’s “A-Ha” moment. He’s seeing a sign pointing towards Reims, the capital of Champagne, to him, Champagne is one of the greatest wine regions in the world, his meteorological brain kicks in…..snow…fine wine region…snow…fine wine region…cold…fine wine region. MORE COMING SOON……

Charles Coury with his nursery vines in Portland, August 13, 1972. He had over 200,000 plants in 1972 and had 1,000,000 by 1973.

Charles Coury with his nursery vines in Portland, August 13, 1972. He had over 200,000 plants in 1972 and had 1,000,000 by 1973.

 

David Teppola, Lee Stewart, Michael Dowsett, and others….

David Teppola at Laurel Ridge Vineyard, October 28th, 1988 (a.k.a Reuter’s Hill Vineyard 1978-1980, Charles Coury Vineyard 1966-1977, Reuter Vineyard 1887-1915)

David Teppola at Laurel Ridge Vineyard, October 28th, 1988 (a.k.a Reuter’s Hill Vineyard 1978-1980, Charles Coury Vineyard 1966-1977, Reuter Vineyard 1887-1915)

David Teppola met Charles Coury in the early to mid 1970’s. David was impressed and inspired by Coury’s winemaking experiences in Europe, his viticultural prowess, his ballooning nursery business and Chuck’s vision for the future of Oregon wine. David was a follower of Chuck’s and saw an opportunity to attach his cart to a powerful force. By 1975, David Teppola would become the first investor in the Charles Coury Winery (not the vineyard), his investment secured loans to purchase numerous Stainless Steel tanks from Santa Rosa Stainless Steel. By the 1976 vintage they had an entire SS tank farm outside. It was the largest winery in Oregon at the time….

MORE COMING SOON………

 

Milan Stoyanov Family

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON.

Milan Stoyanov

Milan Stoyanov