The History of Becoming a Great Vineyard
The rich history of Cricket Hill begins long before Oregon became a state. At its earliest settled times the land where Cricket Hill Winery now stands was a critical seasonal camp occupied periodically by the Dakubetede Indians who maintained a Salmon fishery and fish drying camp up to the point where gold was discovered around Jacksonville in 1851.
With the discovery of gold miners and prospectors invaded the area in droves and passed through picking up the easiest of the nuggets and moving on. The Chinese followed both as workers and as business owners and miners in their own right. Portions of Cricket Hill were hydraulically mined and the tailings of that destructive mining operation remain to this day. One such notable miner was Gin Lin whose Chinese crews played a major role in the history of southern Oregon as they laboriously hand dug the China Ditch, a water source for their hydraulic mining. That ditch passes through the Cricket Hill property and is still visible crossing the mountain that the Cricket Hill Estate is named after.
Stage Line Comes Through
During the late 1850s and 1860s farms were established with irrigation water from the Little Applegate River and stage service soon followed delivering mail, workers and settlers to Sterlingville, a long gone town that once stood on Sterling Creek Road a few miles from Cricket Hill and was the center of the entire area’s gold rush.
Ghost Towns When the Gold Runs Out
A few pockets of gold were found around the current location of the winery but the work was too much for the reward so in 1883 the land began to be farmed to supply food for the settlers and nearby towns. That began the move toward agriculture for what is now Cricket Hill’s Estate Vineyard.
Around 1910 the town of Buncom was established at the crossroads of Sterling Creek and Little Applegate Roads. Now the only surviving ghost town in the area, visitors can still view Buncom’s few remaining buildings just a mile upriver from Cricket Hill.
Finally, The land meets its purpose – Classic Red Bordeaux!
The soil at Cricket Hill was shallow, only moderately fertile, highly erodible and sloped. While making it ill suited for easily farming corn or major vegetable crops, it was exactly what winegrapes needed to produce wines of distinction and character.
Following studies of the lands and wines of France and recognizing that the the finest “Right Bank” Bordeaux wines are limited volume blends of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Cricket Hill’s founders decided this land was ideal for those grapes and those wines. In France they saw special soils, pedigreed grapes, small hand-tended vineyards and attention to winemaking details formed the hallmarks of the great wines. And that is exactly what our founders brought to Southern Oregon.