I realized that I have been doing reviews and write-ups of various wineries that I have been visiting, but have neglected to do one for Seven of Hearts / Luminous Hills, which is probably the one I am most qualified to write about out of all my tasting room escapades. So, without further ado, I shall endeavor to do it justice! (See the end of the post for location and contact information)
First of all, Seven of Hearts features a 10-wine flight for $10, waived with any bottle purchase. It is probably the best deal I’ve ever come across on my wine tasting expeditions (but bring a designated driver or learn how to spit!). It offers a huge variety of wines, ranging from the ever-present pinot noir (which Oregon is so famous for, and rightfully so) to a 100 percent mouvèdre, a grenache/syrah/mouvèdre blend, a viognier, an ice wine, a port-style dessert wine, merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and so on. It would take a lot of time and space to list off all the [limited-production] wines we make.
The Seven of Hearts tasting room is nestled in a quaint little town called Carlton, which is home to more tasting rooms than I can count. The moment you walk in you feel welcome. It has a large window to let in rays of sunshine, and reclaimed wooden bars to sip your wine at. The tasting room is usually bustling, but there are those rare, quiet days where you can taste in utter peace (with either Byron, Lena or myself, of course). The words that come to mind when I picture our tasting room experience are warm, elegant and delicious.
Seven of Hearts / Luminous Hills are two labels under Byron Dooley, who is a quirky, meticulous and devoted winemaker. I noticed from the start that 1. he is always on top of things (when it comes to his wine) and 2. he is super, duper smart. His passion in wine-making is evident in the fact that he is involved in the agriculture all-year round (good wine comes from good fruit!) and he has an understanding of each individual barrel of wine he produces.
Dooley takes an old-world approach when making wine, following the Burgundian way of crafting pinot noir and chardonnay. He doesn’t care about how a wine looks at all, but instead focuses on quality and taste. He does everything by taste: If there is a better tasting blend than the one he planned, he will go with what makes a better wine, even though it’s a nightmare figuring out the new compositions of everything else that must now fit around the modified blend. He will not make or sell a wine that he doesn’t like.
Naturally, the result is brilliant, captivating Pinot noir that dances on the palate and is worthy of aging. Even his whites (ex. 2011 pinot gris) will age for approximately five years.
There is no Seven of Hearts / Luminous Hills wine that I cannot drink. All of the wines I’ve met from this winery so far have been well-balanced, structured, charming and drinkable. What I love the most, however, is how they age. They are like a reward for being patient and the epitome of “patience is a virtue.” They are good now, will be better later and will be best… Probably a year or two after you break down and drink them all.
Should you choose to go, and you should, I would recommend any of the Luminous Hills pinot noirs, whichever special reserve pinot noir that is out (every vintage is different, but also dependably delicious) and if you are lucky enough to come when a “Very Special Reserve” pinot noir is for sale–jump on it!
Come visit me and some amazing wine at the Seven of Hearts tasting room!
217 West Main Street
Carlton, OR 97111
Thursday to Monday, Noon to 5 p.m.
P.S. The winemaker is usually in the tasting room on the weekends :]