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Stoller Family Estate - A Family Vineyard and Winery
The Stoller Family

History of the Farm, by Bill Stoller

 
Hillside Farms

copyright © Mike Haverkate

From turkey barns to vineyards.

This 373-acre parcel, located on the southern slopes of the Dundee Hills just west of Portland, was originally purchased by my father and uncle, who ran a turkey farm here.

In the 1920s, my grandmother bought a few turkeys as pets, but they reproduced so much she started selling them to local meat distributors. Somehow, my father and uncle took what had been a hobby and became lifelong turkey farmers. They purchased the land in the 1940s, and continued to raise turkeys along with the wheat, barley, and oats to feed them. Later operated by my cousin, the farm grew to be the largest turkey facility in Oregon. In 1993, when the turkey industry all but ceased to exist in Oregon, my wife Cathy and I decided to purchase the property in hopes of planting a world-class vineyard.

From turkey farm to vineyard

The old grain elevator

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Grain elevator in the distance.

Among my memories of growing up on a turkey farm, several made a lasting impression. First and foremost, work was never far from my mind. There was always something to do — gathering turkey eggs, irrigating crops, preparing the brooder house for newborns, feeding and watering them, building fences, taking the turkeys out to range, trucking feed components to the granary, mixing the feed — you probably get the idea. For those of you whose only exposure to live poultry is via television, it's a little more involved than tossing a handful of grain into a pen and collecting some eggs.

Another memory (not related to turkeys, I promise) quite clear in my mind is that of listening to my father and uncle talk about the slopes and soil of the land. They used to complain that it was so rocky that it would break discs and plows when they tilled. They didn't have the rich soil of their valley floor neighbors, hence the feed crops were low yielding. Harvesting wheat at the very top of the farm was difficult and dangerous work. In summary, this land was high maintenance with relatively low return.

Well, as most of you may already know, growing wine grapes defies all farming logic. Rocky terrain? Great! Low yielding soils? Wonderful. Steep hillsides? Even better. It appeared that our turkey farm might well be the ideal location for a world-class vineyard.

Allen Holstein and Jaime

copyright © Mike Haverkate

Allen Holstein and Jaime Cantu.

Famed Burgundian Patrice Rion and vineyard consultants Allen Holstein and Joel Myers were also contributors to the think tank. The rocky, well-drained Jory soils, tight elevation band (300-650 feet), and southerly-sloped hillsides gave us a great head start toward realizing our goal; but like turkey farming, this was no easy task. And we've had to feed it a lot!



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© Stoller Family Estate
16161 N. E. McDougall Rd • Dayton, Oregon 97114
Phone: 503.864.3404 • Fax: 503.864.2580
Email: tastingroom@stollerfamilyestate.com

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