Laurel Ridge Winery History: How Laurel Ridge Was Named

This post is the first in a new blog series called “Memories” where Susan will share the stories about the nascent years of growing grapes on our estate vineyard near Carlton and founding Laurel Ridge, our winery. For this first post, we asked her to tell us the story of how Laurel Ridge got its name.

Susan: “So, back in 1986, David and I sat down with the two other couples that were in the process of establishing a winery. We planned to have the meeting over dinner, at the farm where we eventually opened the first Laurel Ridge tasting room. This was near Forest Grove, Oregon, where David Hill Winery now sits today.”

Maija: What was the property named before you founded Laurel Ridge in 1986?

Susan: “Originally, the property was named Reuter’s Hill. This dates back to the mid-1800s and the family that first settled there. Their last name was Reuter. The Reuters built the original farmhouse and planted the first vineyard during the latter half of the 1800s.

The Reuters’ vineyard lived until Oregon Governor Oswald West began prohibition and forced all grape vines to be ripped out of the ground in 1916. The vineyard wasn’t replanted until Charles Coury came along in the 1960s.

Fast forward to 1986, myself and David and two other couples were beginning to form a winery. We had reached the point where I had to fill out all the legal paperwork to incorporate the business and the last thing we had to agree on was a name.

Well, we all had a favorite name that we wanted to give to the winery, and we were having a difficult time agreeing on one.

We all met over dinner and wrote down our preferred name on a small piece of paper. One suggestion was Gale’s Peak, because the property sat on a ridge with a view directly across the valley to Gale’s Peak.

Another suggestion was Madrona View, because the property was full of madrona trees. Madrona trees were remarkable because they’re somewhat rare in the Willamette Valley, where the new winery would be.

David and I wanted to name the winery after the soil type at the vineyard where the winery was being established – Laurel Loam. While the name Laurel Loam Winery didn’t have quite a nice ring to it, Laurel Ridge Winery quickly became his favorite.

So we all wrote our choices on our scraps of paper and tossed them in a cap. David was somehow nominated to be the guy that tallied the votes. After a quick moment of tallying he excitedly announced that the chosen name for the winery was Laurel Ridge! Before anyone could demand a recount David balled up the pieces of paper and shoved them in his mouth. We’ll never actually know if Laurel Ridge was the chosen name for the winery or not, but here we are almost 34 years later!”