A Lifestyle and Philosophy Expressed
Our founders were inspired by the many small wineries of Pomerol and their understated approach to making great wines. That lifestyle philosophy carries over from Cricket Hill’s classic right bank wines to the winery itself. The building was designed to fit the small size of the Cricket Hill Estate Vineyard that it sits beside and with a focus toward minimalist functionality. It’s a simple rustic winery created for one purpose – winemaking.
The French Inspiration
To anyone who has a concept that wine must be made in grand buildings with sweeping, tree fringed driveways and stately castle like towers, Pomerol and Saint Émilion will be something of a surprise.
Even the most imposing Châteaux there look dowdy compared to the great Medoc estates across the river or in California and the norm is more like Chateau Le Pin.
There in the Early 1980s the owner, vineyard worker and winemaker Alexandre Thienpont ends his day, puts away his pruning shears, kicks the mud from his boots, locks the door to the cellar where his wines are aging and walks up creaking stairs to the meal his wife prepared. An unpretentious testament to the power of craftsmanship over fancy buildings and equipment when it comes to making great wine. And what wine he makes!
Of course Le Pin has evolved since those early days but remains unpretentious and focused on presenting itself through its wines rather than overdone architecture.
The whole of Pomerol has an understated rustic atmosphere. The only memorable feature of the entire appellation is a tiny church with its heaven-pointed spire. Many a wine fan has given up when looking for some imposing structure as they try to find that world famous Château Petrus. And in Pomerol there are no hotels, no cafes, no restaurants, not even a place where you can sample the local wines.
The wholesale rejection of ostentation, small lot production, dedication to the wine craft and hands-on work by the owner were inspiring principles for Cricket Hill’s founders. These inspirations they brought to Oregon and they make themselves visible at our winery, estate vineyard and in Cricket Hill’s wines.
Choosing the Applegate Valley
In the 1980s, searching for a place to build their Lifestyle winery, Founders Duane & Kathy searched Napa, Sonoma and California’s North Coast. None felt right. Expanding the search into Southern Oregon they finally encountered the Applegate Valley. It’s rustic charm along with the wineries there reminded them of Pomerol. It felt right so they began looking deeper – into soils until they discovered a tiny place with all the right characteristics to make world class wines. There they settled and began producing wines in their basement. Wines that surprised some of the local winemakers at the time. In 1991, at that site, they founded Cricket Hill Vineyard & Winery. An unpretentious name for an unassuming winery.
The Founders are the Workers
Most of all, Cricket Hill is a hands-on operation. The Founders are not just involved but actually perform every job at the vineyard and winery – from the winery design to bookkeeping to the planting to the label design to the winemaking and selling. No job is too menial or too unimportant for them to do it.
It’s that dedication and attention to detail that makes Cricket Hill wine what it is; their own creative expression of a long tradition.