The Hillcrest Orchard has been a fixture on the East Medford landscape for more than a century. Owned by the Parsons family since 1908, it's one of the largest independent family orchards in the Rogue Valley. Some of Hillcrest Orchard's original Comice pear trees, planted in 1897, continue to bear gorgeous fruit are used in Harry & David fruit samplers.
A number of Hillcrest Orchard's 250 acres are located on the south-facing slopes of Roxy Ann Peak. With shallow limestone-clay soil and long, sunny afternoons, this part of the property is ideally suited to Bordeaux and Rhone Valley wine grapes.
In 1997, as an experiment, Jack Day (one of the Parsons' eleven grandchildren) cleared a few unprofitable blocks of pear trees and planted five acres of wine grapes. For the first few years, Jack sold his entire production to Rogue Valley pioneer Ted Gerber to use in his Foris Vineyards wines. Then in 2002, Jack founded RoxyAnn Winery, which has quickly established a reputation for producing complex, European-style reds.
Up north in the Willamette Valley, 2004 got off to a cold, wet start and presented some challenges for growers--as one grower put it, "We had May in April, and then April in May." Located close to the California border, Oregon's Rogue Valley is much warmer and drier. According to RoxyAnn winemaker Gus Janeway, the Rogue Valley experienced an ideal season: "2004 was a very warm vintage--but not a 'hot' one--with moderate temperatures throughout. The result was a long extended growing season," which allowed RoxyAnn to harvest at optimal physiological ripeness.
Generations of fruit-growing expertise are bearing terrific results in RoxyAnn's wines, and we were impressed with the entire lineup when we tasted the wines a few months ago. The 2004 RoxyAnn Syrah is powerful and dark with a thrilling minerality and pepper. This wine is a new release so it's a little youthful--but the promise is there. A guaranteed hit with Syrah fans. Drink now-2012.