32 Years of Crafting a Winery – Eola Hills Wine Cellars & the Huggins Family Team

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Have you ever dreamed of starting a winery to create beautiful wines? Where would you begin to make your winery dream a reality? How much grit does it take to buy land and to plant vines starting a winery from scratch? How does that story unfold as the years go by? Where to begin? Planting and tending grapes is where! Tom Huggins had that dream and he had the grit to take that chance. Today, his Eola Hills Wine Cellars is a tasty success. His close knit winery team has collected accolades from many including Sunset Magazine and countless gold, silver and bronze medals in numerous wine competitions.

Dreams Become Rooted Reality in Willamette Valley for Tom

Tom Huggins worked in Oregon’s farming industry with insurance in the early 1980’s. Countless times he drove past this particular wheat field. He was certain of its potential to grow lovely wine grapes. Tom shared his dreams with his family and friends who believed in his dream. So, they pooled their money and purchased the field.

Together they ventured toward this collaborative dream as they pooled their money and their efforts. Tom and his brother, Jim, prepared that wheat field to become their vineyard and planted it with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes in 1982. After all, a delicious wine must begin with delicious grapes, right?

Oak Grove Vineyard / Eola Hills Wine Cellars - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits Blog

The Vineyards of Eola Hills Wine Cellars

As time has passed their vineyard footprint has grown to over 300 acres of vineyards producing wine grapes for Eola Hills Wine Cellars with 200 shareholders in their dream and business. The advantage of their vineyards being scattered geographically a bit is the micro climates to optimally grow varietals with different characteristics to craft complex wines for our palates.

The original vineyard planted by the Huggins family and their friends has become 64 acres of cornerstone vineyard production. Now known as the Oak Grove Vineyard, it grows mostly Pinot Noir grapes with some Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Maréchal Foch and Sauvignon Blanc also planted there. While their first planting produced a few wine grapes for wine production in 1986, now many tons of grapes are carefully cultivated for their Eola Hills Wine Cellars wine production efforts each year. Surprisingly, the 10 acres planted in Chardonnay grapes should produce 40 tons of grapes this year from this one vineyard.

Wolf Hill Vineyard was established in response to growing appreciation of their wines. So, in 1996 the Huggins family lead winery team added 43 more acres of vineyards. This new vineyard was planted with mostly Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. There are a few rows of Chardonnay , Maréchal Foch, Muscat Ottonel and Gewürztraminer vines planted there also. The soils and climate of the Wolf Hill Vineyard have proven themselves superior for growing these grapes. Eola Hills Wine Cellars Reserve wines are now created using them.

Fossil Block Vineyard?

Their Legacy Estate Vineyards began in 2008.  Mainly planted with  varietal planted with Pinot Noir and a smattering of other varietals. However, most notable is their  special 16 acres of Fossil Block Vineyard. Its name comes from the Oligocene – era marine fossils discovered when the field was first cultivated. Due to the lower acidity in the soil combined with the higher elevation and southeasterly exposure the grapes here have a distinct character. Hence, this has created their own Fossil Block label and was first released in 2016.

More vineyards have been purchased and cultivated or leased for their winery.

Oregon’s Wine Country Reputation and Eola Hills Wine Cellars Grow Together

Oregon wine country and Eola Hills Wine Cellars share a concurrent story. In 1983, the Oregon Wine Board was established and in 1984 the Willamette Valley AVA was one of four wine regions established in the state. The rest of the world began to take notice of the Willamette Valley AVA when 100 acres of land there was purchased by a well known French wine family from the Burgundy region of France to create an American winery.

Making the Enjoyable Wine …

Understandably when you pour so much of yourself into cultivating the grapes that will go into your wine, you seek a certain wine making philosophy in your head wine maker. Tom Huggins sought a wine maker that embraced the flavors of the fruit. Steve Anderson has been an award winning perfect fit for the Eola Hills Wine Cellars team.

Steve’s own words express that he agrees with Tom’s wine making philosophy. His goal is to utilize his winemaking talents to enhance their team’s wines. “I like to make wines where you can taste the grape that the wine was made from, more than the barrel in which it was made. That said, the judicious use of oak can elevate, lengthen and broaden the wine overall, in addition to adding flavors and aromas” says Steve.

Family, Value, Extraordinary, Comprehensive, Home, Magnificent & More

While the original winery dream was Tom’s, Jim helped plant the first vines. As the winery grew, he became their vineyard manager.  As you can imagine, running a vineyard requires temporary and permanent help. Family, value, extraordinary, comprehensive, home, magnificent, diverse, intense and gorgeous are words that the Eola team use to describe Eola Hills Wine Cellars.

Eola Wine Cellars Team Photo - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits Blog

Originally hired to help in the winery, Steve Anderson proved himself particularly valuable during a harvest season. Understandably, he was added to the team. His wine making abilities blossomed and he was hired away as a winemaker for another winery. However, in a few years he returned to Eola Hills Wine Cellars to become their head wine maker. Now eighteen years later, he is an integral and celebrated part of the Eola team.

Similarly, Antonio Mendez began working for Eola planting vines in 1996. Over the years his 23 years of experience, he has learned a great deal and proven himself many times over. Now that Jim Huggins is retiring as Vineyard Manager, Antonio will replace him.

Eola Hills Wine Cellars Vineyard Crew - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits Blog

Tom’s children grew up with Eola Hills Wine Cellars as part of their lives. Now, both Brett and Kylie work full time alongside their father and uncle as District and National Sales Managers. Additionally, Kylie’s husband, Will Schaefer, has become the Chief of Operations. Even today, Kylie says “My father was the visionary and is to this day.” As you can easily see through their website or when you visit their tasting room, this close nit winery team truly operates more like a family and you can taste the difference in their wine!

To learn more about their terrific team – Eola Hills Wine Cellars Team.

Everyday & Special Occasion Wines Worth Knowing

Eola Hills Wine Cellars Wine - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits Blog

Eola Hills Wine Cellars family oriented team’s goal is to creating enjoyable wines for many families to enjoy. To that end, they have wines that both your palate and wallet can appreciate! Their Classic Pinot Gris won a Gold Medal at China’s 2015 Interwine International Wine Competition. While Wine Enthusiast consistently rates their Classic Pinot Noir as a “Best Buy.”

Eola Hills Wine Cellars Pinot Noir - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits BlogEola Wine Cellars Pinot Gris - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits Blog

Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Rose, Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gerwurztraminer and red wine blends are all available with their Classic Wine line. Affordably priced around $15 domestically, their  Classic Wine Group is wins fans both in a glass and at the register.

Special Occasion? No problem! You should select one of their $30 Reserve bottles to celebrate.

Eola Hills Wine Cellars - Fossil Block - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits Blog

One exception to their normal price range offerings is their very rare and original Fossil Block Pinot Noir wine.

Eola’s website shares this description – “Glacial floods, lava flows and ancient seabeds gave rise to this fossil-rich slope in the Eola Hills of Oregon, where Pinot Noir vines are cooled each night by the ocean’s tempering winds. Fossil Block, fruit-forward and earth-driven with a light touch of French oak, and from a place like no other.” However, this exceptionally rare find retails domestically for $55 a bottle.

(To learn more about – Eola Hills Wine Accolades and Awards Listing)

Holiday Wines with a Bit of Whimsy – Eola’s Reindeer Label Series

While these wines have limited runs and are available on a very limited basis, they exemplify the way the whole Eola Wine Cellars team embraces the magic of the holidays. Definitely, the fun loving spirit of their founder, Tom, is evident with their six holiday wine offerings. Additionally, he personally writes the descriptions of each of these holiday treats. Fun gifts any wine lover would all love to receive!

Eola Hills Wine Cellar - Reindeer Label Series / Rudolph - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits Blog

Eola Hills Wine Cellars - Reindeer Label Series / Comets Cuvee - CKJY Exports Wine & Spirits Blog

Click here to learn more about these two pictured wines or the other Reindeer Series Labels.

32 Years of Crafting a Winery & Eola Hills Wine Cellars Continues to Grow

Terrifically, family traditions continue with Kylie, Brett and Will working alongside Tom and Bill, they have learned what is required to grow delicious wine grapes, create wine and effectively manage the business of Eola Hills Wine Cellars. The extended Huggins family dedicates itself to perfecting their wines and their business as they collaboratively craft their future. Consequently, our CKJY Exports team is proud to share their lovely wines with the world.


Understandably, this dynamic team is a terrific export partner with their combined expertise and long term commitment to quality. Interested in discussing importing Eola Hills Wine Cellars wines? Please contact us.

 

Ruth Logsdon, Operations Officer CKJY Exports Inc.

Born a Southern girl, I was transplanted a few times as a Navy wife! Now, our “retired” USN family, calls CA home. As UNC business school grad, I gained lots of useful insights by finding different opportunities and challenges along our military life’s path. Love of traveling, making friends, experiencing other cultures and sharing the best of all that with everyone are now all part of me.

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