: These winery owners and winemakers will unite to celebrate their common Hispanic roots.

Raise a Glass to Oregon’s Latino Wineries

August 17, 2020 (Updated September 10, 2021)

Editor’s note: Face coverings (ages 5 and up) are required at all indoor and outdoor public spaces statewide, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more here. It’s also wildfire season — plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.

Oregon winemakers are no stranger to breaking barriers. Just 50 years ago, a handful of visionaries planted the first grapevines in the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon. Today, there are more than 700 wineries and 1,000 vineyards growing 72 grape varieties statewide. The definition of winemaker is being reshaped too — with Black, LGBTQIA+ and Latino winemakers adding diversity in the industry and inspiring new generations of wine aficionados. 

So it’s only fitting that for Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, 2021) we honor the state’s esteemed Latino wineries who are making a splash in the viticultural world. Coinciding with the special month, the second-annual Celebrating Hispanic Roots invites guests to an in-person wine tasting, available in both English and Spanish, on Sunday, Oct. 3. All state-mandated COVID-19 protocols will be followed.

Two scheduled tasting times are available: noon-2 p.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m., and the event will feature authentic culinary bites. Each of the six participating wineries will offer special wine selections to commemorate the event, with 10% of wine sales throughout the month and 10% of ticket sales directly supporting Adelante Mujeres, which provides holistic education and empowerment opportunities to low-income Latina women and their families to ensure full participation and active leadership in the community. Tickets are available for $50 each.

If you can’t make the event, check out the special wine packages offered by the six wineries all month long, with sales supporting Adelante Mujeres.

“I really wanted to celebrate the diversity of our cultures and backgrounds and share our personal stories,” says event founder Ximena Orrego of Atticus Wine. “It was also very important for me to give back to our Spanish-speaking community here in Oregon.”

Even after Hispanic Heritage Month, you can drink a toast to Oregon’s Hispanic wine community all year long. Raise a glass to these Latino winemakers and vineyards — ¡Salud!

Carla Rodriguez of Beacon Hill Winery stands smiling in her vineyard during harvest season.
Beacon Hill Winery's Carla Rodriguez hails from northern Mexican city of Torreón in the state of Coahuila. (Photo courtesy of Beacon Hill Winery)

Beacon Hill Winery

Gaston, Yamhill-Carlton AVA

When Carla Rodriguez left Torreón, Mexico, to pursue a finance degree in the U.S., she didn’t expect a career in wine. She entered the world of vineyard management through her husband, George Hillberry, a veteran in the Oregon wine industry — and they’ve kept busy, from managing a historic Dick Erath property to establishing plantings at their two vineyards in the Dundee Hills. In 2011, they became owners of Beacon Hill Winery & Vineyard, founded by famed winemaker Tony Soter, in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Here they pour their small-batch wines, specializing in estate-grown pinot noir and whites like albariño. Explore their wines available for purchase online.

Atticus Wine's Ximena Orrego looks out at her vineyard with a smile.
Ximena Orrego of Atticus Wine is a founder of Celebrating Hispanic Roots, a new event in 2020. (Photo courtesy of Atticus Wine)

Atticus Wine

Yamhill, Yamhill-Carlton AVA

It’s a family affair at Atticus Wine, where for more than 15 years the Orrego-Insley family has produced elegant small-batch wines. Winemaker Ximena Orrego and her husband/co-founder Guy Insley raised their children here — and an impressive estate vineyard, too. The Peruvian winemaker specializes in pinot noir, a fitting endeavor for the famed Yamhill-Carlton AVA in the northern Willamette Valley. Open by appointment only, Atticus Wine offers private seated tastings in English or Spanish. Their acclaimed pinots are also available for purchase online.

Cramoisi Vineyard's Sofía Torres-McKay holds wine grapes from a fresh harvest.
Sofía Torres-McKay and her family established Cramoisi Vineyard in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Cramoisi Vineyard)

Cramoisi Vineyard

Dundee, Dundee Hills AVA

Soon after the Torres-McKay family found this property in 2011, they moved from Vancouver B.C. to plan a vineyard from scratch in the Dundee Hills — and we’re so glad they did. In addition to producing fine wines, Cramoisi Vineyard is also making a positive impact in the community. Co-owner Sofía Torres-McKay, who was born in Mexico City, helped found AHIVOY (Asociación Hispana de la Indistria del Vino en Oregon Y Comunidad), which provides education and professional development opportunities to Oregon’s Latinx vineyard workers. Tour the vineyard and learn about its sustainable practices with a private tasting, available by appointment only.

Sam Parra stands in a vineyard during the winter.
Winemaker Sam Parra's grandfather left Mexico to work in U.S. vineyards. (Photo courtesy of Parra Wine Co.)

Parra Wine Co.

Carlton, Willamette Valley AVA

You won’t find PARRA Wine Co. bottles in stores or restaurants yet — winemaker Sam Parra is currently selling his single-vineyard wines exclusively through his mailing list. The label first launched in 2019, a significant feat considering Parra and his wife moved from California to the Willamette Valley just three years prior. During that time he kept himself busy, working as hospitality coordinator at Cana’s Feast Winery, volunteering for ¡Salud! and Luther Community Services in McMinnville and becoming co-chair for AHIVOY. He credits his grandparents, both Mexican-American immigrants, for instilling a strong work ethic in him.

Alumbra Cellars winemaker Elena Rodriguez smiles while holding a bottle of her wine.
Alumbra Cellars winemaker Elena Rodriguez continues the viticultural traditions of her father, founder Baudelio Rodriguez Sr., in Dayton. (Photo courtesy of Alumbra Cellars)

Alumbra Cellars

Dayton, Dundee Hills AVA

Named after the Spanish word for shining light, Alumbra Cellars is owned and operated by Mexican-Americans, the first-generation children of immigrants. Winemaker Elena Rodriguez continues the viticultural traditions of her father, founder Baudelio Rodriguez Sr., who first planted a block of grapevines on this property outside of Dayton in 2005. You can find the small-batch wines at select locations from McMinnville to Portland, including Barrio at the Portland Mercado, or shop for bottles online with deals on cases. Private appointments of the sustainable vineyard also available by appointment only.

Aurora Cória smells a glass of wine while standing between barrels.
Cória Estates winemaker Aurora Cória produced the label's first crush in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Cória Estates)

Cória Estates

Salem, Willamette Valley AVA

It’s hard to believe that just a decade ago Cória Estates winemaker Aurora Cória, a former public health worker, started her career in winemaking. Since then her wines have earned accolades both locally and nationally — as well as two silver awards at the International Women’s Wine Competition. Cória’s parents, Mexico-born Luis and Idaho-raised Janice, planted their first grapes here in 1999; now the vineyard features 17 distinct blocks and a tasting room that overlooks the valley. The dog-friendly property is currently reservation only, with curbside bottle pickup available by appointment and shipping offered to 38 U.S. states. Find the label at numerous markets and restaurants along the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast.

Cubanisimo Vineyards

Salem, Willamette Valley AVA

The saying goes at Cubanisimo Vineyards, “Cuban passion meets Oregon pinot noir.” The labor of love began in 1986 when Cuban-born Mauricio and Debra Collada purchased the vineyard, intending to sell grapes to large wineries. Passion got ahold of them and with the help of winemaker Rob Stuart of R. Stuart & Co. Winery, the Cubanisimo label was born in 2003. When the owners aren’t tending to their medical office (Mauricio is a practicing neurosurgeon), you may find them hosting wine tastings and live music outdoors at the vineyard in west Salem. An assortment of wines, including exclusive library wines, are available for purchase online.

JP Valot holds an award for the 2019 Oregon Wine Competition Best of Show Red Wine given to the Valcan Cellars 2015 Syrah.
JP Valot served as chairman of the Oregon Wine Standing Committee on Research until 2018. (Photo courtesy of Valcan Cellars)

Valcan Cellars

Corvallis, Willamette Valley AVA

Juan Pablo (JP) Valot was destined to pursue a career in wine. The Valcan Cellars owner and winemaker descends from a long line of wine entrepreneurs in the heart of Argentina’s wine country. Since relocating to Oregon in 2001, he’s earned the title of director of winemaking at Silvan Ridge Winery in Eugene and and Elizabeth Chambers Cellar in McMinnville and was appointed to the Oregon Wine Board. In 2012, he launched his label with wife, Doris, using grapes from vineyards in Monroe and the Rogue Valley. Most recently, the 2019 Valcan Cellars White Malbec — the first of its kind in the U.S. — earned a coveted 90-point score from Wine Enthusiast. The tasting room is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, and bottles are available for pickup or free delivery to Corvallis and Albany.

Winemaker Cristina Gonzales smells a glass of red wine in a vineyard.
Winemaker Cristina Gonzales believes "everyone deserves access to quality wines." (Photo courtesy of Gonzales Wine Company)

Gonzales Wine Company

Portland

A journey through South America first sparked a love for wine in Cristina Gonzales. It took her a half-decade of working in the Oregon wine industry, beginning as a harvest intern, before she launched Gonzales Wine Company in 2010. Now with 15+ years under her belt, Gonzales, the granddaughter of Mexican-American migrant workers, produces her label in Portland. Her wines — and eye-catching merchandise — can be purchased online or through the wine club. In addition to making wine, Gonzales stays busy at Portland Wine Cellar and with nonprofit work through Girls, Inc. and AHIVOY.

More ways to celebrate

When honoring Latinx winemakers in Oregon, we must raise a glass to the late Jesús Guillén of Guillen Family Wines and White Rose Estate. Born in Mexico, Guillén came to the U.S. with a computer engineering degree only to fall in love with Oregon winemaking. His story went quickly from picking grapes to launching his own label and starring in a documentary about minority winemakers in Oregon. The Wine Advocate ranked his 2009 vintage pinot noir a 96 — one of Oregon’s all-time highest scores. Sadly, Guillén’s life was cut short in 2018 after a brief battle with cancer.

Guillén’s legacy is honored with Asociacion Hispana en la Industria Vinicola de Oregon (AHIVOY), an organization he conceived to empower Latinx vineyard workers and help them overcome socio-economic challenges to find career paths in the wine industry. In partnership with Chemeketa Community College, AHIVOY offers professional training curriculum that includes technical wine knowledge and English-immersion programs. Yuliana Cisneros-Guillén (Guillen Family Wines), Sofia Torres (Cramoisi Vineyard), Cristina Gonzales (Gonzales Wine Company) and Sam Parra (Parra Wine Co.) are among the AHIVOY board members.

Every November, the Oregon wine industry hosts ¡Salud!, an auction and gala to raise funds for health care services for vineyard workers and their families. Mark your calendars for this year’s event, scheduled for Nov. 8-14, 2021. Bid on curated wines and local getaways and tune into a winemaker telethon — all for a great cause.

About The
Author

Sachie Yorck
Once Travel Oregon's Integrated Marketing Content & Community Manager and forever an Oregon enthusiast, Sachie Yorck loves telling stories that inspire meaningful travel. When in Oregon, she can be found lingering in a waterfall's mist or swirling wine at a vineyard.