In 2004, we (Tom and Marion Vail) purchased 5 acres in the Amity Hills in Yamhill County, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Ours is a small home with a beautiful view. This was a true lifestyle change for us. Neither of us had ever lived in a rural, agricultural community. Our homes had always had a sidewalk in front and neighboring houses just a few feet away. Now we are 12 miles from the nearest grocery store. We had always enjoyed gardening and being outdoors but had no idea what we would do with 5 acres!
We wanted to be good stewards of our land and use it for something to which it was well suited. As we explored the area and studied the land, we learned that we were fortunate enough to have deep Jory soil, renowned for growing some of Oregon’s finest wine grapes, especially Pinot Noir. The thought of planting a vineyard started to take shape.
Had you asked us prior to 2004 if we would end up in Oregon’s premier wine region growing grapes and making Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, we would have wondered what was in your water. If you ask us today if we like what we are doing, you better have a half hour to spare because that will just get us warmed to the topic.
We are truly blessed to have found such a wonderful place and both think we must have been closet farmers all along just waiting for this opportunity.
We have learned that farming is hard work. Hard and very rewarding! Our summers are warm and dry and beautiful. The evenings are long and lovely. We can work in the Vineyard past nine in the evening if we choose or sit outside enjoying the fruits of our labor.
We have also learned that much of the year here in Oregon farm work is muddy work. After the first few years we realized that we needed to become good at “mud management”. This includes cover crops, gravel walkways, stepping stones, and a paved driveway.
We have learned that people here in Oregon are friendly and helpful folk. They give advice freely, they help out willingly, and have accepted us with warmth and friendship.
Our neighbors deserve a special thanks. They have taught us so much and are always willing to lend a hand. And, our friends in the wine industry have been kind and welcoming beyond compare.
As of February 10, 2020, Steve and Luci Saxton of Bravuro Cellers (in Newberg) are the owners of the property we have called Calamity Hill for the past 15+ years.