July 19, 2023

Hiyu Wine Farm

Hiyu Wine Farm

Owner, winemaker, and “Wizard of Hood River,” Nate Ready, grew up in Napa and spent several years as the sommelier at The French Laundry, finally becoming one of the few Master Sommelier’s in the world while at Frasca Food and Wine in Colorado. Recognizing he had a passion for wine but his wine knowledge was only from books, he wanted to do something more hands-on. So, he worked several harvests in Italy, California, and France.

This experience solidified his desire to be on the other side of the wine industry but before he could start farming vines, he was encouraged by a winemaker in Italy to first learn how to farm everything else. In 2008, Nate and his wife China Treseme, who grew up on biodynamic farms in Vermont, went to Oregon to look for a small property so they can experiment on their own. The property they settled on in Hood River had been a farm since the late 1800’s and was now becoming home to pigs, cows, chicken, ducks, and geese, in an attempt to make agriculture look a little more like nature. Instead of mowing or tilling, Nate only rarely clears weeds with a scythe, and allows the animals to do the rest of the work as they happily graze and fertilize all day.

The vineyards on the property were originally planted to other varietals and instead of ripping them out and disturbing the land to plant new vines, Nate grafted field blends onto the vines that were already growing. Some even have multiple varietals growing from the same vine. This would be a scary scene for most winemakers but Nate finds that it actually creates more resilience overall and deep complexity and intensity in the finished product. Their 14 acres are divided up into 1/2-1 acre parcels, each dedicated to a unique field blend based on what they imagined some of the vineyards throughout history would have been like and on the grapes genetics. For example, their wine ‘Cratageus’ is from a parcel completely dedicated to Syrah and its genetic cousins, Teroldego, Lagrein, Marzemino, Mondeuse, Viognier, Roussanne, all co-planted, untouched during the growing season, harvested by hand and fermented together.

Being in the high rainfall region that Nate is in, they are more susceptible to mildew in the vineyards, which is embraced and not fought as it can enhance flavors. Nate doesn’t sort clusters like most wineries - this allows what was out there in the fields to shine through so you get a better idea of what existed in the vineyards. No treatments that are common even on organic farms are done here. In fact they use 85% less material in the vineyards than most Biodynamic farms. Their sprays are based on cinnamon oil and fermented teas which creates microbial competition in the canopy. And the native yeast biome ferments everything, so Nate only cleans with water and no chemicals to encourage a diverse microbial environment in the winery, just like they’re encouraging it out in the field. All bottles are hand-filled with gravity, then hand-labeled with China’s watercolor landscapes.

Today, around 112 different grape varietals along with fruits, vegetables and animals live at the farm allowing health, beauty, and energy to emerge from the relationships between them. They’ve created a true paradise of biodiversity where natural wine, food (directly from the vegetable garden) and nature mix. Even though they’ve been on the property for over a decade now, they only released their first wines in 2017 and feel very much like they’re at the beginning of their journey. We’ll always be supporters of Hiyu and it’s a true pleasure to be able to get our hands on a few releases whenever possible. These are among some of the most interesting wines we’ve ever carried and will be gone in a flash. So if you see something Hiyu, get it! You will not be disappointed.



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