During a recent road trip up to the Columbia River Gorge from the Willamette Valley, I decided to check out Hiyu Wine Farm in Hood River. Once I did a little research I realized these guys are pretty off the radar (even in the world of wine and cider) — and that made them even more appealing.
So I emailed a request for a tasting appointment, plugged them in my GPS and started my journey from McMinnville to the Hood River Valley.
Hiyu Wine Farm is approximately 30 acres, roughly half of which are vineyards, but also organic gardens, housing and a big state-of-the-art dining and winemaking production center. It’s a farm-to-table operation complete with grazing animals, expansive herb and veggie gardens and a staff that seems more like a big family.
The close-knit team at Hiyu spent a couple of years getting this site ready for business and still aren’t open seven days a week, but you can taste their wines Thursday through Monday 11-5 p.m. in their tasting room or sign up for one their unique food and wine experiences.
Though the business is primarily focused on the wines and restaurant, Hiyu is also known for making some excellent barrel-aged hard ciders. I was determined to taste them.
The production facility, though modern, still feels like a real cellar, cool and dim. I met with Nate Ready, one of Hiyu Wine Farm’s three owners/founders. Since the ciders hadn’t been bottled yet, we tasted them right out of the barrels.
Hiyu uses 100% natural fermentation processes, even relying on native yeasts to ferment and aging ciders a bit longer in barrels so they can blend in newer vintage and facilitate natural bubbles. And that really makes their cider stand out from the rest.
I tasted their 2015 and 2016 ciders out the barrel with Nate, and I was impressed.
These ciders were a great mix of fresh and balanced, with the organic fruit shining through, and a bit more complexity and character due to the barrel aging. The longer aging process also gave the cider nice tiny soft bubbles. These are definitely dry ciders, with none of that sticky residual sugar.
The production is small — a couple of barrels small. If you’re in this neck of the woods (or even if you’re not), I recommend swinging by Hiyu Wine Farm and imbibing some of their delicious ciders or wine and enjoying the beautiful property.
Hiyu Wine Farm
3890 Acree Dr.
Hood River, OR 97031